HC Deb 26 February 1920 vol 125 cc2060-2

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn"— [Sir R. Sanders.]


I wish to ask the Government if they have received any further information of more recent and more extensive Armenian massacres in Cilicia. Since this Debate began there has been put into my hand a telegram which came from Alexandria to France and which was sent on here addressed to the Delegation of the Armenian Republic at the Peace Conference. The President of that Delegation assures me that the telegram comes from a worthy source. It is in French, but the translation of the important part of it is: The situation in Cilicia is alarming. The whole Armenian population is in danger of massacre. Twenty thousand have already been slaughtered in the district of Marash, evacuated by the troops. Important Turkish forces are menacing Mersina. Please make urgent energetic representations to save the population by all means. Mersina is the port of Adana. That is where the agents of the Lord Mayor's Committee for the Relief of Armenian Refugees are working, two of them British subjects, and the other native agents. I would ask the Government if there is any confirmation of this telegram. I would point to the date, Alexandria, the 24th inst, as indicating, if the information is correct, that the massacres have taken place since the warning was given to Turkey of what would be the result of the massacres.


I only received intimation from my hon. Friend a few minutes ago. He knows that we are handicapped. No representative of the Foreign Office is available. The Under-Secretary is away ill, and I am not in a position to give the hon. Member any information on the subject. All I can say is that up to this moment I have not heard anything which would indicate that this rumour is true. I sincerely hope it is not. If it is true it produces a very serious state of affairs, and if information of this kind comes into our hands to-morrow it will certainly be taken cognisance of by the Peace Conference, and we shall have to confer together and consider what action is necessary to arrest horrors of this kind. I cannot go beyond that at the moment I cannot presume it is accurate, As my hon. Friend knows, sometimes these rumours are exaggerated by fears and apprehensions, which are quite natural. Experience in the past has shown that when an atmosphere is created these rumours grow. Very often you find that an alarming report is spread, and when you examine it you find that it refers I merely to some village disturbance which has ended, perhaps, in the killing of a few unfortunate people. Such a report would be magnified, as everything is in the East. I sincerely hope that that is the case here. I will not go beyond that at the moment. My hon. Friend may depend upon it that we shall take very serious account of anything of this kind, if it has actually happened.


Can we have any in formation as to whether there are Allied representatives at Marash, Adana, and Mersina?


We were discussing that the other day. At Marash, I believe, there was a skirmish between French troops and others, who are not acting under any authority at all and are insurgents—the Government have no control whatever. We retired from the whole of that territory in September last and handed over to the French. They were in possession of Marash. I think they have withdrawn; I am not sure. With regard to Mersina, I was under the impression that they were fairly strongly garrisoned there. That is what makes me a little doubtful about this story.

Question put, and agreed to.

Adjourned accordingly at Nine Minutes after Eleven o'clock.