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Anti-Slavery Reporter and Aborigines' Friend.
[The Editor, whilst grateful to all correspondents who may be kind enough to furnish him with information, desires to state that he is not responsible for the views stated by them, nor for questions which may be inserted from other journals. The object of the journal is to spread information, and articles are necessarily quoted which may contain views or statements for which their authors can alone be held responsible.]
It is satisfactory to be able to announce that the sum of Finance.
£300, mentioned in our last issue as being required in order to close the year free of debt, has now been raised. Appeal was made to some tried friends of the Society to come to its assistance in view of the amount of good work accomplished during the year, and that appeal met with a favourable and encouraging response, for which the Treasurers are extremely grateful. We would again emphasize the importance of adding further regular subscribers to our list and our hope that all our members will do their best to interest others and induce them to join the Society.
The chief interest in this question centres for the moment Portuguese Slavery.
upon the arrest of Mr. Bowskill, into the circumstances
of which the Society is determined to secure an exhaustive inquiry. The Parliamentary Committee has kept up a continuous stream of questions and “supplementaries" to Sir Edward Grey.
Mr. Harris brought the question forward for the Society at the Free Church Congress at Norwich, and the Society trusts that resolutions will be passed and forwarded to the Government.
It is anticipated that a White Book upon the question of Portuguese labour conditions will be published shortly.
We ask special attention to the questions and answers in New Hebrides,
the House of Commons on the situation in the New Hebrides
reported in this issue, which will show how serious the conditions are felt to be.
At the end of last month a private interview was arranged in Paris for Mr. Travers Buxton and Mrs. Harris with certain influential French friends of native races in that city for exchange of views as to the steps to be taken for an amelioration of the present state of things, and a frank conversation on the whole question, which will, we believe, bear good fruit.
We hope for valuable results also from the Conference of missionary bodies and others interested in the New Hebrides which was called by our Society on March 31, and promised to be of considerable interest.
MRS. HARRIS has again been to Switzerland, and under Meetings in
the auspices of the Swiss League has been enabled to Switzerland.
deliver addresses and hold meetings on anti-slavery subjects in Berne, Basle and Zurich. We hear that the meetings attracted large audiences and aroused much interest.
It will be remembered that the Society was last year inThe Lushai formed in a communication from the India Office that Lord Hills Slavery Crewe was calling for a report from the Government of System.
India on this question. We are glad to learn from the official reply to a recent question in Parliament that the report was expected before the end of March.
We are very sorry to see that the Directors of the Welsh Calvinistic Mission, to which Dr. Peter Fraser, who has made such a bold stand in Lushai against the system, belongs, has declined to send him back to take up his work in the district. Dr. Fraser was asked by the Directors at the general meeting to answer " unconditionally" whether he would promise to
“ co-operate with the missionaries in India, and with the Executive Committee at home. His reply was “ Yes, as far as practicable in my field of labour," but that he dared not surrender his conscience and liberty of speech and action unconditionally to others. The Chairman then told Dr. Fraser that they were not able to send him back to India.
WE draw attention to the special article this month Special
upon “ Native Races and the Dignity of Labour.” Our Article.
subscribers and friends will, we feel sure, appreciate the importance of the figures produced in this article.
We are glad to announce a second and cheaper edition of Dawn in
this work by Mr. Harris, and also that by an arrangement Darkest
with the Committee members of the Anti-Slavery and Africa.
Aborigines Protection Society may now purchase copies at 5s. each. As the supply at this price is limited, requests will be met in order of receipt.
The New Thebrides situation. THE Society has been devoting special attention to this grave question. For years past it has been in communication with the Colonial Office on the increasingly unsatisfactory reports received from the Islands, but no effective step towards reform appears to have been taken. We have been informed that H.M. Government has not failed to propose negotiations of a delicate character with the French Government, but these have not yet resulted in a conference.
The Society having now been referred by the Colonial Office to the Foreign Office, has taken steps to bring the whole question before the latter department, and has sent in a full statement to Sir Edward Grey, which is published separately and has been widely distributed among Members of Parliament, the Press, and among Societies and persons interested.
Copies of this pamphlet can be obtained gratis from the Society's Office,
The reply from Sir Edward Grey is as follows:
February 23, 1914. GENTLEMEN,
With reference to your letter of the roth instant drawing attention to the present situation in the New Hebrides, I am directed by Secretary Sir E. Grey to state that the circumstances referred to in your letter have already been brought to his notice and that His Majesty's Government, who are fully alive to the importance of the question, are in communication with the French Government on the subject.
I am, etc.,
(Signed) W. LANGLEY. To the Anti-Slavery and Aborigines Protection Society.
The Times correspondent at Melbourne reported an important meeting held in that city at the end of last year under the auspices of the Presbyterian Church, at which Mr. Watt, late Premier of Victoria, presided, and the following resolutions were passed :
(1) That this meeting expresses profound regret at the admitted failure of the Condominium as at present constituted and administered in the New Hebrides, and asks that the Convention be strengthened and its terms equally enforced on all residents in the group.
(2) Should the British and French Governments fail to reach an agreement on these lines, we urge that the only solution satisfactory to Australia is an honourable understanding with France, whereby the New Hebrides will pass under British control.
(3) That no proposal for the settlement of the New Hebrides question be even tentatively entertained by the British Government without first giving the Commonwealth an opportunity of expressing its views.
Another Australian telegram to The Times in February stated that protest meetings were being organized in Sydney against the rumoured partial cession of the New Hebrides to France, despite official assurances to the contrary. It will be seen from Sir E. Grey's answer to a question in Parliament that there is no foundation for such disquiet. Other questions and answers in the House relating to the New Hebrides are reported on another page.
Steps have been taken by our Society to bring the question before an important Missionary Committee connected with the Edinburgh Conference, viz., that on “ Missions and Governments.” With a view to effective united action with the Missionary bodies, a private Conference was arranged for the end of March, in which besides the Committee just named and our own Society, the " John G. Paton Mission Fund” and the Melanesian Mission, whose missionaries are at work on the islands, and other bodies and individuals interested, took part.
We referred in our last issue to the indefiniteness and uncertainty of the jurisdiction of the Joint Naval Commission which tries natives in certain cases, and, according to a competent observer, has “invented a jurisdiction of its own.”
We also referred to the arrests of natives effected by the French warship, the Kersaint, on flimsy charges of extortion, in July of last year.
We now learn that the Joint Naval Commission sat on December 20, and heard the cases of six natives who had been arrested and imprisoned on these charges, and sentenced them—or, to speak more precisely, “recom mended " that they should be sentenced--to terms of imprisonment varying from one to six months.
From correspondence which has been forwarded to us we learn that the native defendants were not allowed to be represented by counsel, even at their own charges, and that no witnesses were heard for the defence. It is contended that under the Convention of 1887 and the Declaration and Rules of 1888 the Joint Naval Commission has no power to sit as a Criminal Court, and that on this occasion it was irregularly constituted. In any case, the accused natives cannot be said to have had a fair trial, as they are unable to follow the proceedings of the Court and were not allowed counsel. Even the services of the official Native Advocate-who would seem to be appointed for just such a purpose as this—are not granted by the British and French Governments to natives accused before the Joint Naval Commission. The prisoners were condemned unheard at a trial held on a ship of war moored in the harbour, no public notice having been given of the sitting of the Commission.
We are informed that the French officials contend that by Art. 17 of the Convention the Native Advocate can only assist natives before the Joint Court, and that he is consequently forbidden to go outside Vila. It is obvious