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THE REPORT OF THE RHODOPE COMMISSION.

Horrible Atrocities.

■ >■■■ ; (CoriespondenHoftlie Argus.) ■""'■ " i t The report of the commission has been signed by the French, Italian, English -and Turkish representatives. It establishes in the most complete manner the charges brought against the Bulgarians, Cossacks, and Buisian regular troops, and shows conclusively that the latter have surpassed their savage allied in cruelty. It declares that, after .the, signing of the' armistice, the Russian arniy burned 80 .defenceless Mahometan villages, on the line between Staminalca and Dembtica. An English surgeon, who accompanied the 'commission on its tour of inspection, and who saw theso ruined villages, assures me that their destruction cannot have been the result of accident, but most have been effected systematically and of set purpose. He declares that the houses were uniformly built of stone, and roofed with slate, and that they were all detached and standing in tolerably large plots of garden ground, so that in order to destroy a village it must have been necessary to set fire to each house separately. She wholesale destruction of these 80 villages must therefore be regarded as an act of premeditated wickedness* . The commissioners passed through many districts which were strewn with the mangled and half-buried bodies and skeletons of Moslem women and children. They examined many living women and girls, who had been subjected to the grossest outrages by Bulgarians, Cossacks, and Russian soldiers and officers. Thep? poor creatures could draw.n o other distinction between their tormentors than this, that, as a rule, the Russian regular soldiers and ofli* cert satiated their ,lusb first, and then handed over their victims to their savage allies. In short, the Bulgarians acted as jackals to the stronger , beasts, sought out and brought the trembling game, watched while t the •foul feast was going on, and then glutted ' their* own ; filthy appetites with whatever happened to be left to themselves. In many cases violation was, sue*' ceeeded by savage cruelty. "The breasts of women were cut; off,. and others were subjected to tortures which cannot be described in your columns. , But in comparison with that which I am about to describe, these atrocities are trivial. ' .Towards the close of February there, were between Haskein and Hermanly about fifteen thousand refugees, mostly women and children, who were striping to make their way through the snow^overed defiles to a place of safety. Tfaeywere attacked and" barbarously treated by the Cossack's, bat when darkness came on were left to continue, their flight in tranquiliby. On the following day* however,; they. Were again attacked ; by » Bulgarians/ uossaclai, and, Russian regular - troops, land' Were at length driven into a{cul-de-sdc formed -by the juncture of the rivers Maritza and Doubeders. And now, when escape was no longer possible to them, there commenced a work of slaughter for whifeh hoparallel; cafi be found tin the history of modern warfare. To rival it we must go back to the days of the Goths and Huns ;and Mongols. No soldiers Jsincc those of Alaric or Attila iofcTamerlan&have, equalled in cruelty those fOf the "DivineFigure of the North." For 12 hours the regular Russian artillery, securely posted on the heights, poured : grape upon the helpless and innocent crowd. Nearly all these hapless people perished. The women, maddened by fright, threw their children into the rivers," and the report of the commission staterthab the corpses of upwards of 2000 children have been found in the river Doubedere. I refrain from comment on this terrible, this hideous, this never-to-be-forgiven crime. Ido ndt suppose that the sound of the 2'e JDeum which is sung for a victory ever rises above the murky atmosphere of earth, but if it had been possible for the jubilant chants which have been sung in every Russian church to have reached the Throne of the Almighty, i their .effect must have been somewhat, marred by the remembrance of the agoniecd shrieks and supplications which rose up from thousands of God's moat helpless creatures on ttfis awful day. I

There aro now in and around Mount Rhodope about 150,000 refugees, and it is computed by the commission that one-half pf these are widows. The commissioners state that the Russians not only do not attempt to assist these poor, people to return to their houses, but they have also encouraged -the Bulgarians to, attack those few persons .who have returned. It is notorious, too, that the Bulgarians endeavour to prevent the sale of provisions to the refugees. At present the refugees barely manage to subsist, but when winter comes on, and it will be upon them in three months, the must perish unless they are substantially relieved. The commissioners, conclude their report; by declaring that the peace of the district cannot be restored,or the repatriation of the refugees effected, unlefo a permanent international commission be, formed to reside in the district, and to have under its control a mixed gendarmerie commanded by European officers. On the whole, the report may be taken as a most decisive and crushing condemnation of the conduct of the Russians in Bulgaria. Of the Bulgarians themselves 6no ; would be disposed to speak somewhat" less harshly." They have been brntalised by long years of oppression, and have, perhaps, not yet had time to become human, but those English friends of the Biil* garians, who were wont to see in them so many virtues, would do well to advise them that unless they speedily begin to put tho^e virtues in practice, Europe may be tempted to restore them w the condition from which, they have been, rescued. ~

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THE REPORT OF THE RHODOPE COMMISSION. Star, Issue 3302, 6 November 1878

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