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Volume 32: debated on Wednesday 24 November 1982

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asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will raise at the United Nations the abrogation of human rights in Syria.

No, Sir. I do not think representations to the United Nations would bring about the result that the hon. Member has in mind. The Syrian Government are well aware of our views on human rights.

In view of that reply, will the Minister say whether the Foreign Secretary, during his recent visit to Syria, raised with the Syrian Government the killing of 25,000 innocent civilians in the northern city of Hama, which was reported by Patrick Seale of The Observer? Were any British civilians killed or injured? Was any protest made at that time about the massive violation of human rights? Will he take the opportunity of raising that matter with the Speaker of the Syrian People's Assembly when he meets him later this afternoon?

I do not believe that there were any British casualties or involvement in the events that the hon. Gentleman has mentioned. In all matters of human rights one has to ask oneself whether intervention with the Government concerned will do any good or whether it is likely to make matters worse. We have tried to make that judgment with Syria as we do with other countries.

Surely my right hon. Friend would not have double standards on that matter? He would want to be sure that he treats Israel and Syria equally.

Israeli actions in the Lebanon are of course outside Israel and in a different category. Ministers views on that have been made clear. We are anxious also about certain human rights in the occupied territories which are not part of Israel but which are temporarily under Israeli occupation.