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Political Prisoners

Volume 441: debated on Monday 28 July 1947

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75.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will call for a report from the British Police Mission in Greece regarding the way in which the recent arrests of political suspects were carried out in Athens, and the conditions in the prisons in which these persons were detained.

I have already received reports from the British Embassy to the effect that there was no shooting and no organised resistance. Only a small proportion of those detained were kept in Athens. The remainder are not in prison, but were sent off the islands of Ikaria and Ayios Efstratios.

Can my hon. Friend say, in the first place, what representations were made by the British Embassy in Athens about these arrests; second, whether they were carried out with the approval or on the advice of His Majesty's Government? Further, is not the British Police Mission concerned with the deplorable conditions in the islands, to which many thousands of Greeks have been deported?

The first two parts of my hon. Friend's supplementary seem to fall outside the scope of the original Question, and the third part refers to the work of the British Police Mission, which is an advisory body for the organisation and training of the police forces in Greece.

Does not the report which the Minister has received make it clear that this brutal suppression of the Left would not have taken place were it not for the fact that British troops are still quartered in Greece?

Will my hon. Friend, in view of the lying propaganda on both sides, consider publicising the United Nations report about the frontier areas, and the report from the British Police Mission in Greece, so that the facts may be widely known, and we may not have to listen to this propaganda?

Will the Minister call for a report from the Embassy in Athens regarding the recent shooting for political offences in Greece of 12 women, the names and addresses of whom I shall be only too glad to give to him after Question time?

I shall be glad to receive the hon. Member's information. This question refers to the British Police Mission, and the supplementaries are getting very wide of it.

Is my hon. Friend aware that according to the "Daily Mail" and the "News Chronicle" thousands of people have been exiled to the islands without any charge being preferred against them, and cannot an investigation be made into this sort of barbarity?

Again, the British Police Mission cannot be held responsible for the conditions on the islands.

Will the hon. Gentleman assure the House that, without any regard to political charges and counter-charges, the British Government will do everything they can to get humane administration of the law in all parts of the world?

In view of the recent strictures made by my hon. Friend about alleged undemocratic behaviour in Hungary and elsewhere, does he not consider it advisable to take this opportunity of demonstrating his objectivity by reprobating comparable behaviour in Greece?

A question was put down about the report from the British Police Mission. I cannot make a statement on policy with regard to our attitude in the countries of Eastern Europe.

Would the hon. Gentleman consider encouraging his hon. Friends to believe that British subjects who are trying to carry out the policy of His Majesty's Government overseas, are inclined to be right before they are wrong, and not wrong before they are right?