Then & Now

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The Independent Online
7 May, 1877: Gladstone, then in opposition, was outraged at the mistreatment of Christians in the Balkans, then ruled by Turkey. Disraeli, concerned about Russian ambitions in the region, refused to break with the Turks on the issue, and restricted himself to mild diplomatic protests. Gladstone assailed this policy in the Commons:

'I do not hesitate to say that the cause of the revolted subjects of Turkey against their oppressors is as holy a cause as ever animated the breast, or ever stirred the hand of man. Sir, what part are we to play in it? Looking at this latter controversy - the controversy between Turkey and her subjects - the horrible massacres of last year, the proofs of which have been afforded that they are only parts and indications of a system; that their recurrence is to be expected . . . can we, Sir, say, with regard to this great battle of freedom against oppression which is now going on, which has been renewed from time to time, and for which one- third of the population of Bosnia and Herzegovina are at this moment not only suffering exile but, terrible to say, are upon the very verge of absolute starvation - can we, with all this before us, be content with what I will call a vigorous array of remonstrances? Can we, I say, looking upon this battle, lay our hands upon our hearts and, in the face of God and man, say with respect to it: 'We have done well and sufficiently performed our part'?'

7 August, 1992: Amid widespread public outrage and demands for military intervention, the Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd calls on the UN Human Rights Commission to meet in emergency session to investigate reports from Bosnia-Herzegovina of atrocities in Serbian camps, set up for Muslim prisoners.

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