§ MR. E. JENKINS
asked the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, with reference to statements in despatches published in the "Manchester Guardian" of the 26th of March, Whether any information has been received at the Foreign Office with respect to an outrage committed by Bashi Bazouks under a Bey named Culenovie, who are stated to have fallen on a number of refugees who had returned to a village in Bosnia called Otchievo, and to have cut ten of them to pieces with nameless horrors; also of an outrage in the Herzegovina, at a place called Glomosh, where it is stated that Turks interrupted a Greek bridal procession, beheaded four of the guests and exposed their bodies on poles, and that the bride died from the effects of the outrages she endured; whether any communication has been addressed to or received from any of Her Majesty's Consuls with reference to these events; and, whether the Government have any information to confirm the statement in the paper above referred to that "the state of the rural districts of Bosnia and Herzegovina is becoming inconceivable in its distress and horror?"
§ MR. BOURKE
Mr. Speaker, with regard to the first part of the Question of the hon. Member, I have to state that neither Mr. Holmes, our Consul at Bosna-Seraï, nor Mr. Freeman, our Vice Consul at Mostar, have sent reports which justify the statements published in The Manchester Guardian. On the 13th instant, in consequence of a communication from Belgrade which appeared in The Times of the 12th, to the effect that murders and outrages were on the increase in Northern Bosnia, a telegram was sent to Consul Holmes, instructing him to report whether any atrocities were being committed, and on the 15th he reported that none had been heard of at Serajevo. I cannot say more, or give the House more information than that. But I may observe—as I stated the other day—that a general Circular had been sent from the Foreign Office to all our Consuls in Turkey, drawing their attention to this subject particularly, and directing them to inquire — themselves, if possible — when 549 any outrage of the kind described in the Question of the hon. Member was alleged to have been committed; and they were to make their journeys at the public expense.
asked the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Whether the series of outrages mentioned in the letter of the "Times" correspondent, dated Pera, March 17th, headed "Turkish anarchy," and more particularly in the district of Bitolia, and as occurring in the months of November, December, and January last are correct; whether communications have been received from Her Majesty's representatives at Constantinople, or the Consuls in Turkey in corroboration of the statements mentioned in that letter; and, how soon after Easter Papers will be presented with reference to the internal condition of the Christian provinces of Turkey?
§ MR. BOURKE
In answer to the hon. Member, I have to state that I have read again, since this Question was put upon the Paper, the account of the occurrences in The Times of yesterday. We have not heard at the Foreign Office of the particular outrage mentioned in the Question of the hon. Member; but, as I stated yesterday, we had heard of an outrage near Adrianople. I must also remind the hon. Member that these outrages to which he alludes, and which are described in The Times, are outrages which apparently took place some time ago, and that they are reported to The Times by private persons, or newspaper correspondents. Whether they are true or not it is impossible for me to say. All I can say is that we have not received any information respecting these particular outrages, but our Consuls have reported that the country is in a very disturbed state. There can be no doubt about that. Mr. Vice Consul Dupuis is now engaged in investigating the cases reported to have occurred at a place a few hours' distance from that town which were mentioned in a letter to The Times of March 6, and which have already been referred to in the House. I would also remind the hon. Member and the House that I stated the other day that Mr. Blunt, Her Majesty's Consul at Salonica, had been ordered to proceed to Philippopolis, being detached for that particular duty because he understood the Bulgarian language, and was well acquainted with 550 many of the Bulgarian people, and that he would proceed in a few days to the district to report upon all these occurrences as accurately and as rapidly as possible. I think I have mentioned already, in answer to the Question asked by the hon. Member for Dundee (Mr. Jenkins), that a Circular despatch has been issued; therefore, if any of these outrages are heard of by any of our Consuls in Turkey there is no reason to doubt that they will be reported to Her Majesty's Government.
I wish to point out to the hon. Gentleman that he has not answered the latter part of my Question with reference to Papers. I would also like to ask him whether his remarks in reference to Consul Blunt refer to Philippopolis or to Bitolia.
§ MR. BOURKE
Oh, no; he is to proceed to Bulgaria and then to Philippopolis. With regard to Bitolia, another Consul is to proceed to that part of the country in his place, with the same instructions, of course. With regard to the Papers, they will be presented very soon after Easter.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
Referring to the answer of the hon. Gentleman, if Consul Blunt was sent to Philippopolis, is it the case that Assistant Consul Calvert has left Philippopolis?
§ MR. BOURKE
No, he has not left Philippopolis. Mr. Blunt is to proceed to Adrianople, and he is to go also to Philippopolis, but his head-quarters will be at Adrianople.
§ MR. H. SAMUELSON
Deprecating the censure of the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the House, I wish to ask an unargumentative Question. I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Whether he can give the House any information as to the present state of Bosnia and Herzegovina, particularly with reference to the condition of the non-Mussulman population; and, whether the report is true that the inhabitants of Candia persist in refusing to send a deputy to the Ottoman Parliament; also whether ho has heard from Mr. Jocelyn as to the atrocities which he said he would inquire into?
§ MR. BOURKE
With regard to the general condition of Bosnia, Consul Holmes reported from Serajevo on the 13th that insurgent bands were to be found throughout the country; but he also reported that he had heard of no 551 atrocities in his neighbourhood. Then the hon. Gentleman asks with regard to the condition of the population in the North of Bosnia. We are told that a large emigration has taken place from Bosnia across the Austrian frontier, and generally I stated the other day that great distress prevailed among them. In answer to the Question the hon. Member has asked me with regard to Crete, I beg to state that the Governor General of Crete, some three weeks ago, directed the Council of Crete to elect two members—one a Christian and the other a Mussulman—to serve in the Ottoman Parliament; but the Council refused compliance with the request, on the ground that it was unfair that the Christian population, which numbers, I believe, about 200,000, should only be represented by one representative, and that at the same time the Mussulmans, who were only 70,000, should be allowed to send one representative to the Ottoman Parliament also. They refused also to send deputies on the ground that in 1867 Crete received a Constitution under which they considered that they were not legally bound to do what was required of them. With regard to the outrages, I stated the other day that they were being investigated by Consul Dupuis. We have not received Consul Dupuis' report; but we know that he has gone himself to the scene of the outrages, 10 hours distant from Adrianople, and that he is making his investigation.