13 DECEMBER 1935, Page 19


[To the Editor of THE SPECTATOR.]

recently was permitted to see a letter in your issue of October 25th from a gentleman in Cullompton, Devon, who seemed to imply that Italy's action in invading Abyisinia was justified, and that the world must not worry at revolution in the regions of Ras Tafari's edict but only if tragedy and anarchy stalked through Lombardy. Your correspondent Mr. Jeffries perhaps is not conversant

with conditions in Italian Eritrea or Italian Somaliland : I should like to enlighten him. To state that only " madmen would say peace in Abyssinia was worth revolution in Italy "

is hardly.the truth. •

If the League compels Italy to put her own house in order it will achieve a great deal. Slave trading from Eritrean ports is today in 11)35 almost a routine affair. Swift sailing .zarougas—a shallow draft dhow—clear regularly from recog- nised haunts under Italian papers, carrying under a stretched- out sail six to twelve slaves, bound for Arabia.

The natives in Eritrea are wretchedly fed and housed, whilst education is still in its infancy. The penitentiary in Assab when I last saw it was (in the native section) in at horrible state. For the smallest offence a sentence of several years is considered normal, prisoners were shackled in pairs, medical supplies were limited and festered insteps and poisoned limbs seen on all sides.

In 1920 it was Italy that refused to agree to the. Slavery , Convention Abolition Bill : her administration made too much money out of this infamous human traffic. Equally so, French and British Somaliland areas are far from being considered unblemished in this respect. Trade permits are given to unscrupulous nakodas, and these use them as a pretext for carrying " live ivory."

Over 50 per cent. of the existing slavery in Abyssinia would drop if European Powers on the lied Sea and Aden Gulf shores in Africa prevented the despatch of these unfortunate women, children and men of all types.

I fail to see where the liberty in Italy exists, when all thought and learning other than Fascist aspects is languishing in island convict settlements. For aiding the widow of Matteotti (a deputy who was murdered in Italy for opposing the Duce) Dr. German was given years of gaol as a punish- ment. It was not enough to deprive the widow and the children of their father ; they must starve in the gutter. This is Fascist intellectual thought.

To the League the lives of Abyssinian women and children, the freedom of this latter country, the retirement of Italian military equipment, the compensation due to Has Tafari for his slaughtered men and women, plus a free port on the coast not under Dalian supervisim, should be the first conditions aimed at irrespective of the fact whether Italian families suffer discomfort, or anarchy in that land should become rampant.

To allow Mussolini to get away with any of his invaded portion will be no League victory but an encouragement to other dictators to try for a whole loaf, and be given a part to remain of good behaviour. Then at a later date a little more can be grabbed, &e., &e.

By all means put in force an embargo on oil in the West, and on camels from Arabia across the Red Sea': thus in a few months Italy will have to " down tools " or perish..- Yours faithfully, GEORGE PERCIVAL-KAYE, formerly. Second-hi-Command H.M.S. `Sussetta' in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden Patrol.

Lansdowne, Chapel Road, Sale, Cheshire.