HC Deb 08 March 1937 vol 321 cc778-9
9. Lieut.-Commander Fletcher

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has called for a report upon the reprisals carried out by the Italian authorities in Ethiopia following upon the attempt upon the life of General Graziani?

14. Mr. A. Henderson

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he can make a statement with regard to the situation in Addis Ababa following the attempted assassination of Marshal Graziani?

17. Mr. Noel-Baker

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he can give the House any information concerning the recent massacres in Addis Ababa?

Viscount Cranborne

While it will be realised that precise details are in the circumstances difficult to obtain, my right hon. Friend has received information tending to show that, following the attempted assassination of Marshal Graziani, scenes of grave disorder occurred in Addis Ababa, in the course of which reprisals of a severe character were taken by the Italian soldiery, resulting in a large number of deaths and extensive destruction of property. I am glad to say that, so far as British subjects and protected persons are concerned, those who were arrested when the outbreak occurred have now all been released at the instance of the Acting British Consul-General, and no British lives were lost.

Lieut.-Commander Fletcher

Is the Noble Lord aware of the reports by eye witnesses that these reprisals were carried out with a savagery almost beyond description, and that they represent the worst atrocities committed in Africa since the Congo atrocities?

Viscount Cranborne

I am aware that there have been these reports, and I am sorry to say that our information tends partially to bear them out.

Mr. A. Henderson

Is it not clear that the Italian authorities lost their heads after the attempted assassination, and that a considerable proportion of those who were killed and injured were absolutely innocent people?

Viscount Cranborne

I think it is undoubtedly true that after the attempted assassination there was a state of very great disturbance, which is perhaps what the hon. Member meant. I am afraid it is impossible to give comprehensive information about the matter—the hon. Member will realise that in the circumstances it is impossible to get it—but such information as I have tends to bear out the common report.

Miss Rathbone

Is the Noble Lord proposing to make any representations on behalf of His Majesty's Government to the Italian authorities in regard to this breach of international practice?

Mr. Shinwell

Is this what is meant by spreading civilisation to Africa?

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