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Tuesday, 22 May 1973
Page: 2471

Mr McLeay asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice:

Has the Australian Government taken any action to protest against (a) the judicial murder of a family of 5 Iraqi Jews in Baghdad and the previous public hanging of Jews in that city; (b) the detention and murder of Pakistani prisoners-of-war in Indian POW camps; and (c) the judicial murder of Asian and Ugandan citizens in Uganda.

Mr Whitlam - The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(a)   On 3 February 1969 the then Australian Government protested to the President of the Security Council and to the Secretary-General of the United Natrons at the public execution of 9 Jews in Baghdad earlier that year. In respect of reports that further executions of Jews have recently taken place in Iraq, Australian diplomatic missions in the area have been asked to try to ascertain the facts. Australia does not, however, have a resident diplomat mission in Baghdad.

(b)   The Australian Government maintains regular contact with the Governments of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh in relation to their attempts to find a solution to the outstanding problems of the South Asian sub-continent. In maintaining these contacts the Government has been aware of the determination of India and Pakistan, expressed in the Simla Agreement of July 1972, to resolve these problems bilaterally, without outside interference. The return of the Pakistani prisoners of war detained in India is one of a number of inter-related problems, Including the recognition of Bangladesh by Pakistan, the prospect of war crimes trials in Bangladesh, the repatria tion of Bengalis detained in Pakistan and of those non-Bengalis in Bangladesh who have opted for repatriation to Pakistan, and the division of assets and liabilities between Pakistan and Bangladesh. The Government welcomes the Joint Declaration made by India and Bangladesh on 17 April as an attempt to move out of the existing stalemate. While recognising the complexity of the issues involved, the Government hopes that further progress towards an early solution acceptable to all parties can be made. The Governments of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh are aware of our views on these matters.

(c)   As the Special Minister of State stated in the Senate on 23 March, the Government deplores recent events in Uganda.

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