HC Deb 05 July 1932 vol 268 cc261-2W

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies who were the Assyrian officers and other ranks who have signified a desire to be released from further service in Iraq; what are the numbers of these troops and what are their grievances; and whether this force is officered by British officers or not?


I am informed that the native officers of the Assyrian levies, a, force numbering some 1,500, with British officers in senior command, whose principal duty it is to guard the British aerodromes in Iraq, recently signed a memorial stating that they and the rank and file proposed to cease serving on 1st July. Their alleged grievance was that His Majesty's Government had failed adequately to safeguard the future of the Assyrian nation; but it is understood that they were also aggrieved at the proposal to discharge a part of the force. For some time there has been dissatisfaction among certain of the Assyrians in Iraq at the impending termination of the British mandate, and this found expression in a number of petitions to the League of Nations, culminating in a demand for the establishment of an autonomous enclave. The Assyrian petition for an autonomous enclave was rejected by the League Council in January last on the recommendation of the Permanent Mandates Commission, and the Assyrians are apparently not satisfied with the guarantees, stringent though they are, for the protection of racial and religious minorities in Iraq which the League Council adopted last May and which the Iraqi Government have now accepted and ratified. I am arranging for copies of Iraq's Declaration of Guarantees to be placed in the Library of the House. The reports which have been received from the High Commissioner during the last few days show that wiser counsels are prevailing, and that the majority of the Assyrian levies have now intimated their willingness to continue serving and to give guarantees of future good behaviour.

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