Asia Minor (Turks and Christian Minorities).

Oral Answers to Questions — Ex-Service Men. – in the House of Commons on 17th May 1922.

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Photo of Lord Robert Cecil Lord Robert Cecil , Hitchin

46.

asked the Prime Minister whether observers will be sent out at the same time to Anatolia, to Smyrna, and other districts at present in the occupation of the Greek forces?

Mr. CHAMBERLAIN:

In order to guard against the risk of reprisals, and that we may be in possession of accurate information, His Majesty's Government will at once propose to the Allies and the Government of the United States of America to join in sending officers to the Smyrna district also.

Photo of Lord Robert Cecil Lord Robert Cecil , Hitchin

47.

asked the Prime Minister what number of observers are to be sent to Anatolia, and when will they start?

Mr. CHAMBERLAIN:

I regret that I cannot answer this question until the replies of the Allied and American Governments and of the Angora authorities to the proposals of His Majesty's Government have been received.

Photo of Lord Robert Cecil Lord Robert Cecil , Hitchin

The right hon. Gentleman cannot even tell me the number of observers?

Mr. CHAMBERLAIN:

No, obviously not. That must depend on the communications with the Angora Government, and so far they have not answered our first communication. A request to treat the matter as urgent has been addressed to them, I think, to-day.

Photo of Lord Robert Cecil Lord Robert Cecil , Hitchin

48.

asked the Prime Minister whether, in order to avoid delays which may mean the death of thousands of the non-Turkish inhabitants of Anatolia, the proposed British observers will be sent forthwith without waiting for action by any other country?

Mr. CHAMBERLAIN:

If other Powers do not agree to send Commissioners, His Majesty's Government will nevertheless endeavour to send a British Mission on their own account.

Sir J. D. REES:

Will the instructions to this Commissioner or observer be to report upon atrocities by whomsoever committed, of whatever nationality or religion?

Mr. CHAMBERLAIN:

Most certainly.

Photo of Hon. Aubrey Herbert Hon. Aubrey Herbert , Yeovil

51.

asked the Prime Minister if, in view of the fact that His Majesty's Government has been repeatedly warned that the Allied policy of sending the Greeks to Smyrna would result in massacres of Christian and Moslem minorities, and that the policy of sending British observers is not likely to prove helpful to minorities, it will suggest to a neutral Government the advisability of sending representatives to Smyrna and to Pontus, with the consent of the Royal Government of Greece and the Government of Angora, to bear impartial testimony as to what is happening?

Mr. CHAMBERLAIN:

As I stated on the 15th instant, the Turkish atrocities against the Christian minorities have been going on almost continuously for more than seven years. His Majesty's Government have good reasons to believe that about half a million Ottoman Greeks were deported by the Turks during the War, of whom a very large number perished in circumstances of unspeakable barbarity. I cannot, therefore, accept my hon. Friend's implication that the Turkish atrocities of the last few years are primarily due to the Greek landing at Smyrna. With regard to the second part of the question, I would point out that His Majesty's Government have already asked the Government of the United States of America, which is a neutral power, as well as the Governments of France and Italy, to join them in sending representatives to the Pontine district. In so far as the despatch of similar representatives to the Smyrna district is concerned, I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply which I gave to the Noble Lord the Member for Hitchin to-day.