3 DECEMBER 1948, Page 16


Sta,—The plans agreed upon by Britain and U.S.A. for the future of Eritrea cannot but cause consternation to anyone who knows that country. The scheme looks as if it had originated in Addis Ababa, and it takes little account of the wishes of the people of Eritrea themselves. It should have been made clear long ago that public opinion in this country has been deliberately misled by Ethiopian propagandists, both native and, I regret to say, English, who have succeeded in establishing the myth of Eritrea's" " Ethiopian" character and of her desire to join the Ethiopian Empire.

The facts are these: Both the Western and the Eastern Lowlands are inhabited by peoples having neither racial, cultural, nor religious affmity with the Ethiopians, and even the Plateau, whose Coptic Christian inhabi- tants are of Abyssinian but not Ethiopian character, has a very strong minority fanatically opposed to absorption by a backward Power. They know that they will lose all the benefits and progress achieved under European rule. The pro-Ethiopian Party in Eritrea, organised and sup- ported from Addis Ababa and closely supervised by the Ethiopian Liaison Officer in Asmara, already has a bad record for terrorism, and has also been prodigal of threats as to the vengeance in store for its opponents. If I were to estimate the genttine desires of the Eritreans expressed to me by persons, both Christians and Muslims, in all walks of life, I should say that 60 per cent, wish for a British trusteeship, 30 per cent, union with Ethiopia, and 10 per cent. an Italian mandate. Having witnessed the appalling terrorism which preceded the visit of the Four Power Com- mission I doubt whether the actual voting correctly reflected these figures. When the Ethiopians take over, they will seek to implement their threats. What safeguards are proposed in order to protect the persons and property of former pro-British elements? Are we to expect a new wave of human misery and homeless refugees?—I am, Sir, yours truly,

Hanford Cottage, Bland ford, Dorset. E. F. WISE.