HC Deb 06 February 1908 vol 183 cc1073-4
MR. GOOCH (Bath)

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will inform the House as to the number and condition of the prisoners of war who, with Osman Digna, have been detained at Damietta since 1899; and whether His Majesty's Government will now extend to Osman Digna and his fellow prisoners the clemency of the Crown and procure their release under such conditions as may be deemed expedient.


Lord Cromer reported on 8th March, 1907, that many of the Dervish prisoners had been released, that only eight of the principal members were still detained and that their wives and families, numbering twenty-three individuals, remained with them. They were treated as political prisoners, were comfortably housed, and well fed. They were not subjected to any severe disciplinary regulations. Their children were being educated. Lord Cromer agreed with Sir Reginald Wingate and Slatin Pasha that it would not at present be desirable to send these men back to the Soudan. Their presence would be dangerous to the peace of the country; whilst on the one hand they would probably, if they returrned to the Soudan, become centres of intrigue for the malcontents, on the other hand they would require protection from the very numerous people who are still suffering from the acts of these men and their adherents when they were in power. The question ha" also been considered by Sir Eldon Gorst, and he entirely concurs in the opinion expressed by Lord Cromer. Till we are convinced that the return of these men to the Soudan would be safe, no other decision can be come to.

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