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Rhodesia (Murder Of Mr And Mrs Viljoen)

Volume 728: debated on Wednesday 18 May 1966

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(by Private Notice) asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations whether he will make a statement on the murder of Mr. and Mrs. Viljoen by African terrorists at Hartley, in Rhodesia, yesterday.

I have heard of recent incidents in Rhodesia, including the murder of Mr. and Mrs. Viljoen yesterday, with the deepest regret. The British Government have always condemned violence from whatever quarter it may come.

Would my right hon. Friend agree, first, that under the terms of the Rhodesia Order he is responsible for law and order in Rhodesia? Secondly, would he agree that this murder marks a new phase in the Rhodesian problem—a phase of violence of the gravest description?

We have made our general views clear to all concerned—that we condemn violence and we hope that this kind of murder will not happen. I can only repeat what I said before, that it is the illegal declaration of independence which has led to this kind of terrible murder.

I think that the right hon. Gentleman should think again about his last remark; it is not in accordance with the facts. Will he accept that this incident, which may be followed by others, is another reason for pushing ahead with the talks with the greatest possible urgency?

I quite agree. The discussions are taking place with this objective in view.

Has my right hon. Friend any evidence that this incident is connected with the I.D.I?

No. There is nobody who can give any proof which connects it. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why say it?"] What I said was that illegal action leads to violence, which we condemn.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that incitement to murder is going out with some regularity on the Zambain radio? May I ask him, first, whether he has made any protest to Zambia in that respect; secondly. Whether B.B.C. material rebroadcast from London is also going out from Zambia on the same programme; and thirdly, what steps he can take to stop that practice?

We have made our general views clear to the Zambian Government, but I should require further evidence before making anything in the nature of an official protest.

Is it not inevitable and predictable that as long as Africans are denied constitutional methods of expression violence is bound to increase?

I can only repeat what I have said already, that the British Government have repeatedly condemned violence. We shall continue to do so. We do not think that we can solve any problem by these means.

Does not what the right hon. Gentleman has now said twice almost amount to saying that U.D.I. justifies murder? [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Is not that a very irresponsible thing to say?

The right hon. Gentleman must not put words into my mouth. He has carried the responsibility which I am carrying now, and I am very sorry that he should introduce words which add still further difficulties to a very important matter.

This is not the time to beg leave to move anything. That will come later.