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Murder Of British Officers, South Kurdistan

Volume 155: debated on Tuesday 27 June 1922

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asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he can state the cause of the murders of Captain Bond and Captain Makant in South Kurdistan on 18th June; whether these murders are associated with that of Lieutenant Mott, killed at Halabja in South Kurdistan on 1st June, the death of Flight-Lieutenant Hudson in Iraq on 6th June, and the death in action of Captain Fitzgibbon in January last; and whether there is any change in the general attitude of the South Kurds since they showed their loyalty to the British Government during the Iraq rebellion in 1920?

The hon. and gallant Member has no doubt seen the Report which, after being communicated to the relatives of Captain Bond and Captain Makant, was published in the Press this morning. The murder of these two gallant officers was due to an act of individual treachery on the part of a local frontier chief. I greatly deplore their loss; but I am assured by Sir Percy Cox that no political significance need be attached to the incident; that it is not connected in any way with the other occurrences mentioned by the hon. and gallant Member. There has been no change in the general attitude of the Southern Kurds.

What steps are being taken to arrest the said chief who is reputed to have done this act, and is it possible to arrest him?

Troops are moving; both cavalry and infantry are operating in the district, the Air Force is recon-noitring in the air, and we hope to bring the authors of this disgustingly treacherous breach of a parley to which these officers had been bidden to summary punishment and execution in the shortest possible time.

Does the right hon. Gentleman say that there is no connection between that and the quite similar murder of an officer only a fortnight before?

I am advised that there is no serious political significance to be attached to this incident. Of course, there is a considerable amount of uncertainty and unrest in regard to these very turbulent Kurdish frontier troops. Everyone who has to come in touch with them runs considerable risk.

Is it not a fact that during the Arab rebellion of 1920 there was no difficulty, no disturbance, and no turbulence in the whole of South Kurdistan?

I suppose the hon. and gallant Gentleman is anxious to demonstrate that there is some much better political policy to pursue. He will have an opportunity in the Debate on the Colonial Office Vote.

Are not our officers exposed to these constant dangers in Kurdistan simply through the alteration in our policy by the landing of the Greeks in Asia Minor?