A critical evaluation of a British source concerning the Armenian problem
Taha Niyazi Karaca
Keywords: Armenian Problem, Bogos Nubar Paşa, Paris Peace Conference, Ottoman State
From the point of view of the administrators of the Ottoman State and of the Muslim population, the Armenians were considered tebaa-ı sadıka (loyal subjects) loyal to the state and in good relations with their Muslim neighbours. Nevertheless the rise of nationalist ideologies in Europe and in particular the fact that the Greeks and the Serbians had acquired their independence made a deep impression on Armenian intellectuals. With the support of Britain, this impression quickly turned into a widespread and organised revolt against the Ottoman State and into a movement of independence. After the 1877-78 Ottoman-Russian war, Britain, which supported this revolt, began a campaign against the Ottoman State. The main points of this campaign were the facts that the Ottoman State and the Turks in general were not civilised and that this was not a free country, but a country where people were subjected to immense cruelty and were massacred. Some writers and journalists of the period took up a fundamental role within Britain's campaign to besmirch Turks in the court of public opinion and to justify its own policies. One of the principal instruments of this campaign was Sir Edwin Pears, who as a journalist and writer, worked very successfully in the attainment of these objectives. His news, which used also religious elements, and his works full of lies and false accusations against the Turks, created widespread revulsion, especially among Christians. Due to his success in this activity, Britain gave Pears a baronetcy, while Greece and Bulgaria gave him a knighthood. Edwin Pears preferred basing his writings on hearsay, rather than on what he himself had seen. Nevertheless, even if based on hearsay, these writings accomplished their mission and are used as proof of the claims concerning the massacre of Armenians even in our day. In this article we have tried to critically evaluate his approach to the Armenian question and the information provided by him, on the basis of Edwin Pears's personality, his upbringing and in particular his work titled "Turkey and its people". In this way it becomes clear that the claims concerning the Armenian question were based on works built upon religious prejudices and rumour rather than documents and historical reality.