HC Deb 01 July 1890 vol 346 cc463-6

I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether his attention has been called to the statement in the Daily News of Monday, to the effect that Halil Pacha, Governor of Van, is constantly supplying Martini-Henry rifles to the Kurdish chiefs of the district; that the Kurds, emboldened by the encouragement they meet with in high places, are committing every kind of outrage and atrocity on the Armenian people; that on the 23rd of May the Kurds outraged an Armenian woman of Kavash, and cut off her breasts with their swords, death following shortly after the deed; that murders have been committed by Turkish soldiers in the town of Van itself; that towards the middle of April more than 15 villages lying to the south of Van were raided by the Kurdish brigand cheif Shakir; and that the Governor, Halil Pacha, has effected no arrests; whether the Government have any information relating to these matters; and whether they will cause inquiry to be made?

*MR. SCHWANN (Manchester, N.)

I wish to put this further question to the right hon. Gentleman—whether he has seen the following statement in the Daily News of this morning:— Most of the principal outlaws and bad characters who were arrested last year and cast into prison, in consequence of the Armenian agitation in Europe, have been let loose, and are now overrunning the country. The miscreants have, it is reported, purchased their release through the Turkish Governors on payment of substantial sums. The notorious Hussein Bey, of Hosh, in the Kharpout district, whose name is dreaded throughout the country, and whose misdeeds are almost unsurpassed in the criminal annals of Turkey, having slaughtered more than 15 Armenians during his lifetime, has been released from the Erzeroum Gaol, and appointed to a high public office at Kharpout. The inhabitants of the district are almost panic stricken in consequence. The policy of exterminating the Armenian element is being pursued with unabated vigour. While a great number of Armenians emigrate to distant climes through want of security and protection to life and property, those who venture to return to their country are killed on their way by Kurdish brigands a t the instigation of the local officials. I wish also to ask whether there are still a number of Christians imprisoned at Erzeronm and at Erzingan, where they have been lying for two years and p half; and whether the Cinder Secretary will inquire into the truth of these allegations, and use his influence to prevent further misdoings?


In answer to the question on the Paper I have to say that we have received no such information, but there is no doubt that the Kurds are armed. Nor have we received any information of the shocking occurrence stated by a newspaper correspondent to have occurred at Kavash. On April 19 the Vice Consul at Van reported that a company of 16 mounted Kurds made a descent into the Havatzor Valley, 10 miles from Van, for the purpose of levying blackmail. On May 19 the Consul at Erzeroum reported that the Vali was making "honest and strenuous efforts" to have these Kurds arrested; and I observe today a telegram that one of the leaders has been arrested. With regard to the last question, I have no doubt that these matters will be reported on in due course; but the hon. Gentleman will observe that in the newspaper from which ho takes these statements they are professedly not from its own correspondent, but either from "An Armenian correspondent," or were rumours. In regard to the question of the hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. Schwann), I may say that I only received it just before I came to the House, and I have not had an opportunity of making inquiries. It is a question which I could not undertake to answer off-hand.


Will the right hon. Gentleman make inquiries?


I will make inquiries at the Foreign Office. I cannot carry all the Records of the Office in my head. I shall be happy to give him an answer if he will put the question on the Paper.

MR. A. O'CONNOR (Donegal, E.)

Have the Government received information of any representation having been made by the Russian Consul, and will the right hon. Gentleman consider the advisability of a joint representation being made to the Porte?


I can answer that question now, and also the question of the hon. Member for Eye (Mr. F. Stevenson) upon the same subject. [To ask the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether it is true that the Russian Consul at Erzeroum has addressed remonstrances to the Turkish Authorities on the subject of the outrages which have been committed against the Armenian population; and whether the British Consul has been, or will be, instructed to address similar remonstrances?] We have asked our Consul at Erzdroum, in conjunction with the Russian and French Consuls, to make a joint representation as to the measures thought to be necessary. The recommendations have been brought to the notice of the Grand Vizier at Constantinople by Her Majesty's Charge d'Affaires, and certain orders have been given in accordance with those representations.


Will the Government instruct Mr. Clifford Lloyd to convey information as soon as possible to the Government with regard to the matters referred to in his question?


I can assure the hon. Gentleman that it is totally unnecessary to convey such special directions. Mr. C. Lloyd has interested himself greatly in these things. [Cries of "Oh!" from the IRISH MEMBERS.] I do not know on what grounds hon. Gentlemen should doubt the truth of that statement. Mr. Clifford Lloyd has constantly interested himself greatly in these matters. I have explained to the House over and over again that newspaper correspondents have only to telegraph a rumour; whereas Her Majesty's Representative has to ascertain its correctness before making a Report.