99 Garnett to Strahan

Letter CANBERRA, 3 September 1946

SECRET

I am directed by the High Commissioner [1] to refer to the informal discussions which took place in March 1945 between the then Australian High Commissioner in London and the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs, concerning the problem of the resettlement of the Assyrian Christian community in Iraq, following which it is understood that Mr. Bruce communicated with the Commonwealth Government regarding a suggestion which had been made to him that a home might be found in Australia for some at least of these Assyrians. Copies are enclosed of the note which was prepared for Mr. Bruce by the Foreign Office. Copies are also enclosed of an exhaustive memorandum by the Foreign Office on this subject dated April, 1937, and of a more recent memorandum dated February 1944. [2]

2. As the Commonwealth Government will be aware the problem of the resettlement of this community is one which has given the United Kingdom Government concern since 1937 when some informal discussions took place with Australian Ministers who were in London in that year. It was ascertained at that time that there was then no prospect of facilities being offered for the settlement of Assyrians anywhere in Australia.

3. The matter has recently been given active consideration in view of the part played by Assyrian levies in the late war and efforts have been made in many quarters to explore the possibility of securing a satisfactory settlement for these people to whom, as indicated in the documents enclosed, the United Kingdom Government have a strong moral obligation. These efforts have, however, so far been without success.

4. In the light of the recent movement in favour of giving assistance for the resettlement of displaced persons generally the United Kingdom Government feel it incumbent upon them to make a further approach to Dominion Governments on behalf of the Assyrian community. The United Kingdom Government therefore hope that in any consideration which the Commonwealth Government may be giving towards the possibility of providing help for the resettlement of displaced persons, they will give specially sympathetic consideration to the claims of the Assyrian community.

W. GARNETT Official Secretary

1 E. J. Williams.

2 Enclosures not published.

[AA:A1067, M46/10/4]