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Asia Minor (Turks And Christian Minorities)

Volume 154: debated on Monday 22 May 1922

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asked the Prime Minister whether he has received any reply from America as to the willingness of that. Government to co-operate with us in an inquiry into the alleged massacres in Asia Minor; whether any reply is now expected from France or Italy; whether he has decided to send a British mission; and, if so, when?

The reply to the first part of the question is in the negative, but there is reason to hope that an answer may be received shortly. The French and Italian Governments have accepted the proposals of His Majesty's Government. In regard to the third part of the question, I would refer the hon. and gallant Member to the replies which I gave to my Noble Friend the Member for Hitchin on the 17th inst. No date can be fixed at present.

Will the right hon. Gentleman say whether the answer that is anticipated from America is supposed to be favourable or otherwise?

I do not think so. I did not make inquiries immediately before coming to the House. At any rate, I have not seen the answer.


asked the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is aware that when the French left Cilicia the Armenian population fled in terror, leaving about 1,000 out of 200,000; that these refugees are now most of them existing in miserable circumstances in Beirut and other places in Syria, Cyprus, and elsewhere, despite the promises made by the French and Turks that the Armenians would be safe if they remained in Cilicia; that the Turks are holding for a year the property of the Armenians who have fled, to be restored to them if they return in that time; and that within the last two years the Armenian garrison of Hajim was overpowered by the Turkish forces, after a long and heroic resistance, and nearly the whole population massacred and the town destroyed; and whether he will call for a Report and take whatever steps are possible to end this treatment of the Armenians?

On a point of Order. Is this question in order, Mr. Speaker, having regard to the fact that it deals with occurrences in a foreign country, for which no Minister in this House is responsible?

This is a matter in regard to which we are just about to send out a Commission, I understood, and, therefore, it is in order.

Our information is that the Armenians still remaining in Cilicia number at least 5,000, and it is doubtful whether the original total was morn than 150,000. Many of the refugees appear to be fairly well cared for in Syria, but shocking accounts have been received of the condition of those at Alexandretta. According to a recent, but still unconfirmed, report, the Kemalist authorities are about to decree that the property of Armenians who have fled the country will be confiscated if not reclaimed within three months. The report regarding the siege and destruction of Hadjin and the massacre of its inhabitants in October, 1920, is correct. His Majesty's Government are already fully informed on this subject, and it is their constant endeavour to secure in any settlement which is reached all possible protection for the minorities concerned.

Are any steps similar to those which the Government contemplate in reference to the Greek population in contemplation in reference to the Armenians?

I am not quite sure that I gather the purport of my right hon. Friend's question.

Is my hon. Friend aware that the Government have said they are going to send, or ask leave to send, Allied observers over certain parts of Greek territory where the Greek population is supposed to be in great danger, and is a similar course going to be taken with regard to the Armenian population in Cilicia?


asked the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is aware that as recently as last summer the Turks deported eastward from Konia, as a mili- tary measure, all Greek and Armenian males over 12 years of age; that not less than 12,000 Greeks, deportees, have recently lost their lives in the vicinity of Kharput, under precisely similar circumstances to those in which multitudes of Armenians were done away with several years ago; that British consular officers have been informed of the conditions in the Kharput region and have sent the information on to London; and whether he will have inquiries made and a Report issued on the subject?

In regard to the first part of the question, His Majesty's Government have no definite information. In regard to the second part, they have every reason to believe that the facts quoted by my hon. and gallant Friend are correct. In regard to the third part, a report was recently received through His Majesty's Consul-General at Beyrout from a reliable source, relative to the passage of 20,000 deportees through Kharput, largely women and children, who were being driven eastwards, half naked, through deep snow. His Majesty's Government are at present considering the question of publishing some of the numerous reports on this subject which they have received.