February 12, 1894
Ex-Consul Hess Describes the Treatment of Armenians Who Visit Turkey
Mr. W. B. Hess, late United States Consul at Constantinople, Turkey, who has just returned from that city, was seen at the Metropolitan Hotel yesterday. He said that since last September all Armenians who had returned from this country to Turkey had not been allowed to land or had been turned out of the empire as soon after landing as possible. As all of the returning Armenians became during their residence here naturalized citizens, Mr. Hess declared the action of the Turkish authorities was an outrage. He said the Armenians returned for visits only, and that though many of them had made several visits to the empire since they first left it, never before last Fall was any of them molested.
Since the audience last Summer of Minister Terrell with the Sultan”, said Consul General Hess, ”the Turks have secured what they have been contending for years—the right of sovereignty to refuse the admittance to their shores of any undesirable citizens. The outrages since then upon citizens of our country have more than once made my American blood boil. Our passports, signed by the Secretary of State, have been poohpoohed, torn up, and thrown away, after being taken deliberately from American citizens.
”I could cite a number of cases. One will suffice. An Armenian who has been in this country in business for sixteen years, and who had made several visits to Turkey without molestation, arrived at Constantinople. He was not allowed to land until I pre-emptorily demanded his release from the vessel on which he was detained. The Armenian was going on a visit to the interior of Asiatic Turkey. When he arrived at Samsoun, on the Black Sea, he was arrested without having given any provocation and thrown into prison. His passport was taken from him, as well as his clothing and other effects. In the prison he was put into a dark cell with a murderer, who shared his bed and food. His jailers refused to allow him to telegraph to the Consul. He was detained in prison twenty-two days and then sent back to Constantinople.
”He managed to get his story to me, and I investigated. I learned that they were about to deport him, he knew not where. I brought the case before Minister Terrell, who astounded me by saying that, acting under instructions from our Government, he could do nothing. I asked him if he was going to stand by and let these people kick a citizen of our own country out of theirs. He said he had no power to restrain them from doing so under the circumstances. I saw that I could not do much, but I determined to do what I could.
”I went to the Custom House authorities and asked them where they were going to send the Armenian. They replied, to Marseilles. To my interrogation as to whether they had purchased a ticket for him they said they had. I won’t take the word of a Turk. I wanted to see the ticket. They did not have any, and I made them buy one for him. Then I went aboard the vessel and saw that he had some money and all his baggage.
”Every Armenian who enters the port is treated somewhat after this fashion. The Armenians in that country are afire with indignation about it. Some action, I believe, will soon be taken by them, as it will as well by the Armenians of this country. I believe the present Consul, Mr. Short, has not been able to alter the condition of affairs. It is a shame and an outrage, and will not redound to the credit of our Government”.
COMPILED & EDITED BY VOSGAN MEKHITARIAN, REV. VAHAN OHANIAN
News Reports From The International Press, Volume I, THE NEW YORK TIMES 189O-1914 Published By Genocide Documentation & Research Center, 2O11
Published Under the Aegis of the Ministry of Diaspora of the Republic if Armenia