Persian Oil Fields (Disturbances)

House of Commons | April 13, 1951

The Mossadegh Project | November 16, 2022                   

An April 12th riot at the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (AIOC) in southern Iran was addressed at the British House of Commons.

British House of Commons | Archive
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Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (AIOC/BP) | Archive

Persian Oil Fields (Disturbances)

HC Deb 13 April 1951 vol 486 cc1333-4

Mr. Eden (by Private Notice) [Anthony Eden, Conservative Party] asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has any statement to make about the riots in Abadan and its vicinity.

The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Herbert Morrison) We have so far had only preliminary reports regarding the disturbances in the Persian oilfields.

It seems that a Persian military force attempted to disperse a meeting of apprentices and workers on strike at Abadan, and were attacked by a crowd numbering perhaps 4,000 people. The military did not open fire until the crowd had broken through the cordon. A party of Europeans who were in a neighbouring cinema were later extricated with difficulty by the military.

I regret to say that, according to our present information, two British seamen have been killed and six British adults and two children injured, but not seriously. One Italian seaman has been killed. Nine Persians have been killed and 11 injured. Armoured cars are reported to be on their way to Abadan and reinforcements of troops have already arrived.

We are most concerned at this development, more particularly since we had hoped that the problem that has arisen about Persian oil could be discussed in a quiet and friendly atmosphere. We are watching the situation closely, and reserve the right to act as we see fit to protect British lives and property. We must hold the Persian Government responsible for all injuries and loss that may be sustained by British nationals and interests.

The House will appreciate that the factual information I have given is subject to confirmation.

Mr. Eden I am obliged to the right hon. Gentleman for giving us this full statement. May I ask him two questions? First, whether he will do everything in his power to impress upon the Persian Government that it is their responsibility to protect both Persians and Britishers working for this company, which is there by international agreement; and, secondly, whether he has any information if ships of the Royal Navy are available and whether any other ships are proceeding to the neighbourhood?

Mr. Morrison On the first point, I entirely agree with what the right hon. Gentleman has said. On the second point, if the right hon. Gentleman will excuse me, I think I would rather not say anything about that at the moment, but that the matter is under consideration.

Mr. Eden Will the right hon. Gentleman give us the assurance that any steps that may be considered necessary will, without hesitation, be taken?

Mr. Morrison Yes, Sir. One has to consider expediency in this matter, of course, but the right hon. Gentleman can be assured that we should not hesitate to take appropriate action.

Commander Noble [Sir Allan Noble, Conservative Party] The foreign Secretary has said that two British seamen were killed. Does that mean that we have landed men?

Mr. Morrison No, Sir.

Mr. Emrys Hughes [Labor Party] Has the Foreign Secretary any information about the way in which the dispute and demonstration originated? What were the conditions which caused this demonstration?

Mr. Morrison I cannot go into that, because I am not prepared for it, but it is no good evading the issue that, if British lives are in peril, we have got to do something about it.

• Source: Parliamentary Debates (Hansard): House of Commons Official Report
[Annotations by Arash Norouzi]


Related links:

Persia (Anglo-Iranian Oil Company) | May 1, 1951

Troubles in Iran Are Serious | Walter Lippmann, May 15, 1951

British Oil Interests In Persia | House of Lords, May 1, 1951

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