57. Sir J. D. REES
asked the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has received any Report, or whether his attention has been called to any Report, to the effect that the Turkish village of Karatepe, near Aidan, was on 14th February surrounded by a Greek force, partly in and partly without uniform, who are alleged to have collected the inhabitants, including women and children, in a mosque, upon which they are alleged to have opened fire and to which they are alleged to have set fire, and to have looted the village, to which also they are alleged to have set fire, so that only 14 or 15 men and women are alleged to have escaped with their lives out of a population believed to have been not less than 400; and whether adequate steps have been taken at the recent Paris Conference to ensure the protection of the Turks in this region and in other regions in the Near East and to put an end to these massacres?
Before the hon. Gentleman answers that question, per haps it will be convenient that I should put to him a supplementary question, namely [reading] whether he is aware that many of the atrocities alleged against the Greek forces——
§ Sir H. CRAIK
On a point of Order. Before a question has been put, can another hon. Member rise to put a question?
§ Mr. SPEAKER
It often happens that a question on the same subject is asked before the question on the Paper is answered, but it is for me to see whether it is relevant or not.
§ Sir C. KINLOCH-COOKE
But is it not understood in this House that no Member shall put a supplementary question and read it?
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I rather wish it was, but this cannot be described as a supplementary question. Perhaps the hon. Member for the Scotland Division (Mr. O'Connor) will wait until the first answer has been given?
The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative, but according to the information of His Majesty's Government, the village was held by a band of about 15 men, believed to have formed part of the following of the noted Turkish brigand, Tekelioglou Ismail, and the Greek irregulars were only able to enter it after about an hour's fighting. With regard to the last part of the question, I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply which I gave to the hon. Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool (Mr. O'Connor) on 3rd April.
May I ask, as a supplementary question, whether many of the atrocities alleged against the Greek forces by Kemalist sources have not been proved to be pure fabrications, and whether a letter written by a Turk publishing these charges, on which the question of the hon. Gentleman is founded, does not at the same time avow that the Turks in the interior have also been—I am quoting the letter—"doing nasty things, and now and then infamous things"; and whether it has not come to his knowledge that the Greek authorities in Asia Minor, civil as well as military, have not only prosecuted, but executed Greeks convicted of atrocities against the Turks?
My hon. Friend knows better than most Members of the House how little or how much credence is to be attached to these charges on the one side or the other. In regard to the latter part of the question, I have not the information that he mentions, but I will inquire.
§ Lord R. CECIL
Does not the hon. Gentleman think that this instance, and many other instances of the same kind which are said to occur, make it very urgent that some steps should be taken immediately by the Powers to protect the inhabitants, whether Greeks or Turks?
I share my Noble Friend's anxiety in regard to the situation which has supervened in Asia Minor, and I can assure him that every measure will be taken to meet possible eventualities.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
If any evacuation takes place, can we be assured that British officials will be there to see the conditions under which it takes place?
Sir J. D. REES
Can the hon. Gentleman say to what extent and for what length of time His Majesty's Government accepts the obligation of protecting Turk or Christian in this area, either or both?