The London Times 9 October 1915



A letter giving further particulars of the massacre of Nestorian Christians in Urumiah has just been received from the Rev. Gabriel Alexander by Miss Barclay, Uric, Tranton-road, Bermondsey. Writing under date Tiflis, August 6, Mr. Alexander says:  As soon as I learned that the Russian Army had gone to Urumiah, I left Tiflis in order to distribute the aid offered by noble and kind-hearted English friends in this time of greatest need. Alas ! the destruction of life, wealth, and houses was greater than we had imagined. We have lost by death and murder more than 12,000 souls ; 150 Christian Nestorian villages have been completely plundered and burned to ashes by Turks and Kurds. I must say that plunder and massacre, and carrying off women and girls to make them by force deny Christ and believe in Mahomed is done by Persians. Our homes and property are almost all taken away by our neighbours, Persian Mahomedans. Unspeakably shameful acts were done on five-year-old girls by Persians. We have collected from Moslem villages more than 100 women who have been changed to Mahomedans and their husbands murdered in their sight. As I entered the city I found crowds of pale-faced women and children who were looking like skeletons, only skin and bones, with an expression of hunger, fear and death on their faces. During the five months of captivity (for 1,500 were shut up in the American Mission) each person could have half a pound of bread in 24 hours. But this bread was made in the city and sold to the Missionaries, and the Persian Governor had taught the bakers to mix fine steel dust, and sometimes lime in the bread. In this way thousands died before doctors knew it, but by a petition of the American missionaries it was stopped. We have lost four of our doctors by death, and three of the American Missionary ladies. No one was allowed to peep through the windows in the street, or to go out. In the ground large pits were dug for graves. In one grave they put 1,500 bodies. For three days I went out with the Cossacks to see the country. In all the plain of Urumiah I found the Mahomedan villages full of inhabitants, with much cattle and flocks, but all Syrian Christian villages heaps of ruins, without a single human being, only wild grass grown in their streets. Here and there one could see the bones of human beings left unburied, food for the fowl of heaven and dogs ; one could not but feel deep enmity to see the large, fine and old churches burned up. Bibles were stained in the churches with the blood of virgins and sold for a farthing. We have lost our best men and women. We have lost our wealth and homes, and so have our brethren in the mountains.

The London Times