THE NESTORIAN CHRISTIANS - URMIA
URMIA (PERSIA), DEC. 7, 1844
Three French Lazarist missionaries, who had quitted Persia by order of the Schah last year, and who had retired to Mossoul, have returned here. Their journey across the country of the Kurds hae not been fortunate. Having been suprised in a gorge of the mountains by about 20 Kurd freebooters of the tribe of the Hakkary, they were pillaged to their shirts. They arrived here in a miserable state, and have taken up their residence with their countrymen who remained at Urmia after the disturbances which took place between the Nestorians and the Catholics last year. The news which we received by these Lazarists as to the fate of the unfortunate Tigari (such is the name of the Nestorian mountaineers in the Kurdistan) is extremely satisfactory. The noble efforts made by Sir Stratford Canninr, who despatched Mr. Stevens, the British Consul at Samsoun, to the spot to examine the position of affairs has been attended with complete success. The Pasha of Mosoul has received from the Forts the most positive orders to cause the Djeulamerk to be evacuated by the Kurds, and to suffer the remains of the unfortunate Nestorian population which had escaped the massacre of 1843 to return to their homes, and to take energetic measures to prevent the Kurds from re-commencing their attacks against the unfortunate Christians.
Although the authority of the Pasha of Mossoul does not extend past the walls of the city, whilst the Kurd chieftains are the real masters of the country, the Pasha by the aid of diplomatic artifice, has at length obtained from Nurullah Bey and Bader Khan, Kurdistan chieftains, that their bands should evacuate the country of those Christians which they had pillaged and ruined. The Patriarch of the Nestorians has returned to the village of Diss, his ancient residence in the mountains and by degrees the Nestorian families who had fled from the lances of the Kurds are returning to their habitations. Mr. Stevens succeeded in reaching the residence of Bader Khan, not withstanding the immense danger attending a journey across the Kurd mountains. Bader Khan, the most powerful chieftain in all Kurdistan, lives at four daysí journey from Jesirah, in the wildest and the most inaccessible mountains. His residence consists of two citadels well fortified, which are ever guarded by 200 warriors. The formidable and fanatical chief, who is the real King of the mountain, does not wish to set in open rebellion against the Porte, and he received the British consul most hospitabily. Mr. Stevens who speaks the Turkish language fluently, used his utmost efforts to obtain from Bader Khan that the Nestorian children who had been made prisoners, and were compelled to become Mahomedans, by the Kurds, should be set at liberty, and restored to their parents. At first the Kurd chief would not hear of such a proposition, but when Mr. Stevens was taking leave of him he consented, and according to the latest accounts brought by the Lazarists from Mossoul, a certain number of Nestorian children have been set at liberty. Thus the noble energy of Sir Stratford Canning to prevent the destruction of an entire Christian population in Kurdistan has completely triumphed! This is a splendid result in the cause of humanity. But there is some reason to be astonished that the Ambassadors at Constantinople of the other great Powers did not assist Sir Stratford Canning on that occassion.
The mission of the Count de Sartigers has had but little success, although the Court of Tehran has consented to the return of the French Lazarists to Persia. Count de Sartigers had demanded of the Schah that the church of Urmia, which formerly belonged to the Catholics, should be restored to them. This demand was refused, and even the permission for the French missionaries to return to Persia would have been returned, had not Count Medem, the Russian Ambassador, whose assistance had been humbly requested by the French Envoy, condescended to say a few words in favour of the French Lazarists. Hadji Mirza Agasi, the Grand Vizier, declared in the most peremptory manner that the French Lazarists shall not be tolerated in Persia, unless they confine themselves to preaching the Gospel to the Nestorians of the province of Aserbeidgar, and that they refrain from attempting to make proselytes among the Mussulman population.
- Dr. Wolf is about to return to England through Georgia and southern Russia.