From Fourth International, July 1946, Vol.7 No.7, pp.206-207.
Transcribed, edited & formatted by Ted Crawford & David Walters in 2008 for ETOL.
Mr. Solley (Thurrock): I have to call the attention of the House to recent events in Cyprus of the utmost gravity, and, indeed, I do not think that I exaggerate when I say that the matters to which I shall have to refer are such as will shock the conscience of every true democrat. I did, in fact, raise the matter originally in a question which I put to the Secretary of State for the Colonies on January 30, 1946. The question was as follows:
Whether he is aware that the law under which the 18 members of the Pan-Cyprian trade union committee were recently sentenced to imprisonment is Fascist and anti-working class in its character; that the substance of the evidence against these trade-unionists was that they were engaged in publicizing the classic works of Socialism; and whether he will take immediate steps to free these trade unionists and alter the law so that it conforms to Socialist principles; and remove from office all those officials who were primarily responsible for instigating this prosecution.
The facts are that after a trial of 34 days, on January 21 of this year, the entire leadership of the Cypriot trade union movement in Cyprus was sentenced to imprisonment. Some received a sentence of 18 months, and others received a sentence of 12 months. They were found guilty of being members of a so-called unlawful association, namely, the Cypriot equivalent to our TUC – the Pan-Cyprian trade unions Committee ….
We find that the entire leadership 18 members of this Committee are now in prison. It would be beyond the limits of the time which I have at my disposal to give the detailed background of this matter. It is sufficient to state that the naked despotism that obtained in Cyprus from 1931 onwards was such to make legal trade unions and political activities at the beginning of 1931 quite impossible ...
It is a fantastic state of affairs when Labor rules at Westminster, and Socialism is a crime according to the law of Cyprus. Considerable comments were made at the trial about Marxism. (Laughter) It is all very well for Members opposite to laugh, but when we were discussing freedom a little while ago, for people to indulge in Fascist activity, they said that that was necessary in a democratic State, and they cannot now logically argue that you cannot give the same rights to the Marxist. In order to show the political nature of this trial I propose to give a quotation from the exchange of questions and answers between the President of the Court and the Solicitor-General of Cyprus:
President: Is Marxist theory a crime?
Solicitor-General: According to Cyprus law, yes.
President: Is the possession of Marxist books a crime?
When I read that I had in mind the Nazi bonfires of books which they did not like.
The Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies: I regret that through the indisposition of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State he is unable to reply to the Debate. I regret further that I have had such short notice in which to prepare a reply. I should like to point out that the charges made against the trade union leaders concerned were charges which were made under section 46, 60 and 61 of the Criminal Code in Cyprus, which is precisely similar to the law of this country. So there can be no suggestion that this is a law of a particularly onerous kind. It is the law of this country which is the basis of the law of sedition in Cyprus. I regret the rather intemperate language my hon. Friend the Member for Thurrock, etc. etc.
(Excerpts from British Hansard equivalent to US Congressional Proceedings)
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