Support for Relief Work
Decisions which, if carried into effect, should swell the funds and alleviate the distress of the inhabitants of Armenia, were arrived at a meeting convened at the Town Hall yesterday afternoon by the Council of Churches and the Armenian Relief Committee. The principal speaker was Dr. L. Wirt, of the Near East Relief Association, of America, who is visiting Australia in the interests of his organisation. A large audience, composed mostly of clergymen of various denominations, was present.
In introducing Dr. Wirt, Archbishop Lees said that as a result of Turkish oppression the Armenians had been left in dire need. He hoped that political pressure would be used to see that the signatories of the treaties signed since the armistice did not allow the Armenians to be handed back to Turkey.
Dr. Wirt said that in all history there had never been anything so heroic as the behaviour of Armenia while under the heel of the Turk. Half the nation had been exterminated because it would not accept Mohammmedanism and fight alongside its brutal neighbour. Mustapha Kemal Pasha was the virtual ruler of turkey, and Australians should assist the fund, because he was the man who blocked them at Gallipoli. In Armenia he had seen dead children thrown into the gutter where they were picked up and carried away in carts like rubbish. Some of the children were in a terrible condition from eating grass. Ten thousand Armenians had been cured of trachoma, But thousands were suffering from that dissease, and could not be treated because of lack of funds. Cholera and typhus were rampant, and thousands are starving. Children had dogs sat on them by Arabs, and been torn to pieces, and others had fled in fear to the mountains, where conditions were terrible. The Near East Relief had organised 400 relief stations, 220 orphanages, and 63 hospitals, but money and goods were needed to carry on and extend the work. He hoped the Federal Ministry would supply a relief ship for the fund, and he was certain that Australians would load it with goods of all kinds.
On the motion of Mr. Edgar, M.L.C., seconded by the Right Rev. F.H.L. Paton an Mr. E. Lee Neill, it was agreed—
"That this meeting, called by the Archbishop of Melbourne and the Federation of Churches, representing the clergy and layman of the Anglical and non-episcopal churches of Melbourne, desires to express itself in deepest sympathy with the suffering people of the Near East, especially with the Armenian Christians, two million of whom recently suffered martyrdom because of their devotion to our common faith. We voice our approval of the efforts now being made to internationalise the work of Armenian relief, and establish committees in the various States of the Commonwealth to gather gifts for this cause. We especially commend the proposal to send a relief ship from Australia to Armenia, that gifts of food and clothing may reach this land of distress with the least possible delay. We trust that the Commonwealth Government will see its way clear to place one of its ships at the disposal of the Australian General Committee of Armenian Relief. We recommend, further, that the churches and sunday schools throughout Australia set aside one Sunday in the near future to be designed as Armenian Relief Sunday, and that upon that day our churches seek to do their part towards saving some at least of the many starving Christian children in Bible lands who otherwise must perish."
It was also agreed—
"That the committee of the Armenian Relief Fund be given the power to add to its numbers to take part in the campaign, and that a message be sent to Mr. Lloyd George asking that the provisions of the Sevrès Treaty be put into operation, and the Armenians be given protection and a national home."