Emily Greene Balch to Hamar Greenwood, April 16, 1920


April 16, 1920.

Dear Sir,

May I in my personal capacity, acting in harmony with the whole [program] of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom but without special instructions in this case beg you to consider favorably the plea of hunger-striking Irish prisoners to be considered as political prisoners.

At the International Congress of Women at Zurich in May 1919 at which 15 countries were represented, and in which a notable British delegation [played] a leading part, a resolution was passed maintaining the right of Ireland to self-determination and urging amnesty for political prisoners. A fortiori we should urge the claim, put forward so earnestly by imprisoned advocates of women suffrage both in England and in my country, the United States, for treatment as political prisoners.

The Women's International League for Peace and Freedom stands for those statesmanlike methods which instead of increasing the divisions between different groups and laying a basis for further ill-will and misunderstanding by severities, bind up the wounds of the past and build a better future.

It is as a lover of England's finest traditions that I long to see the day when Ireland shall be no longer a thorn in England's side but a help-mate and friend. The fact that I recognize that my own country has so much to regret in her own conduct does not make me less eager to see England do all that is both just and generous.

I therefore once more beg you, Mr. Secretary, to reconsider, in the spirit which seeks to find a basis for [accommodation], the status of the unhappy men now in prison in Dublin.

Yours very truly,

(Signed) Emily Balch.

Sir Hamar Greenwood,
Secretary for Ireland,