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330                 JOUKNEYS IS KURDISTAN       LETTER xxx

The wretched poverty of the people of this place made
a very painful impression on me. They may have exag-
gerated when they told me how terribly they are oppressed
by the Kurds, who, they say, last year robbed them of 900
sheep and this year of 300, twenty-five and some cattle
having been driven off a few days before, but it is a
simple fact that the night of my visit the twenty-four
sheep for which there was no room in the stable were
carried away by a party of well - armed Kurds in
the bright moonlight, the helpless shepherds not daring
to resist. It is of no use, they say, to petition the
Government; it will not interfere. The Kurds come into
their houses, they say, and terrify and insult their women,
and by demands with violence take away all they have.
They say that the money for which they have sold their
grain, and which they were keeping to pay their taxes
with, was taken by the Kurds last week, and that they
will be cruelly beaten by the zaptiehs because they can-
not pay. Their words and air expressed abject terror.1

Their little church is poorer than poverty itself, a
building of undressed stone without mortar, and its length
of thirteen feet includes the rude mud dais occupied by
the yet ruder altar. Its furniture consists of an iron
censer, an iron saucer containing oil and a wick, and an

1 I must ask my readers to believe that I crossed the Turkish, .frontier
without any knowledge of or interest in the " Armenian Question ;" that so
far from having any special liking for the Armenians I had rather a pre-
judice against them; that I was in ignorance of the " Erzerum troubles "
of June 1890, and of yet more recent complications, and that the sole
object of my journey by a route seldom traversed by Europeans from
Urmi to Van was to visit the Patriarch of the Kestorians and the Kochanes
station of the Archbishop of Canterbury's Assyrian Church Mission, and
that afterwards I travelled to Erzerum vid Bitlis only to visit the American
missionaries there. So far as I know, I entered Turkey as a perfectly
neutral and impartial observer, and without any special interest in its
Christian populations, and it is only the " inexorable logic of facts " which
has convinced me of their wrongs and claims.