ModernityBlog

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Abraham Lincoln

Posts Tagged ‘Britain

Britain Can Be Sued For Torture.

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I covered this months ago, finally and thankfully the case went the way of the Kenyans, as BBC News reports with typical English understatement:

“Four elderly Kenyans have been told they can sue the Foreign Office for their alleged torture by British colonial authorities 50 years ago.

The High Court said the group could seek damages over their treatment during the 1950s and 60s.

Mr Justice McCombe said the claimants had an “arguable case” and it would be “dishonourable” to block the action.

Ministers say the UK government is not responsible for the actions of the colonial administration.

The decision means that the government will have to defend accusations of torture, murder, sexual assault and other alleged abuses at a full damages trial in 2012.

The four Kenyans, Ndiku Mutwiwa Mutua, Paulo Muoka Nzili, Wambugu Wa Nyingi and Jane Muthoni Mara, all in their 70s and 80s, say ministers in London approved systematic abuse in special camps. A fifth claimant has died since the action began.

The High Court heard that Mr Mutua and Mr Nzili had been castrated, Mr Nyingi was beaten unconscious in an incident in which 11 men were clubbed to death, and Mrs Mara had been subjected to appalling sexual abuse.”

After Kenya, Malaya.

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The British Government has done it again, tried to hide its crimes and murders:

“The documents, released by Malaysian sources ahead of a judicial review related to the massacre, also reveal how a Metropolitan police investigation in 1970 into the allegations was “terminated” because an incoming Conservative government did not want the darker aspects of Britain’s colonial past exposed.

The plantation workers were shot in cold blood by a 16-man patrol of Scots Guards in December 1948. Many of the victims’ bodies were found to have been mutilated and their village of Batang Kali was burned to the ground. No weapons were found when the village was searched during a military operation against Chinese communists in the post-second world war Malayan emergency.

The British government has refused to apologise for the incident or offer reparations, and last November it said it would not hold a public inquiry into an incident that campaigners dub “Britain’s My Lai massacre”. A recent letter from Treasury solicitors indicates that the government is not prepared to discuss whether the killings were lawful or not.

News of the suppressed investigations follows last week’s disclosure of government reports in the high court revealing the extent of British brutality during the Mau Mau rebellion in Kenya.”

(H/T: Peter Tatchell)

Written by modernityblog

10/04/2011 at 00:00

Her Majesty’s Government And Torture.

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British newspapers were rightly critical when the US government used rendition and carted people off to faraway countries to be tortured, but Britain’s own use of torture is often forgotten.

A new court case concerning HMG’s activities in 1950-60s Kenya should reveal more.

Dave Osler has details:

“The Foreign and Commonwealth Office – which denies all liability – will tell the judge that the case should be thrown out, because legal responsibility for any abuses were transferred to the Kenyan government upon independence in 1963.

Mr Justice McCombe will listen to both sides over the next week or so and come to a decision in line with the applicable laws. Not being a lawyer myself, I have no worthwhile opinion on the strict legal aspects of this matter.

Yet the ethical issues surrounding this case seem to be absolutely clear. True, there were atrocities on both sides, to use the classic formula, and the exact death toll is a matter of debate between specialist historians.

But it is firmly established that the bulk of the atrocities were perpetrated by the colonialists, who of course had no business being in the country in the first place.

The lowest credible estimate of the number of Kenyans killed is around 11,500, although the claims go as high 70,000. The Mau Mau were responsible for around 2,000 of these deaths. The courts authorised 1,090 executions, and the use of torture and mass detention was widespread.

It must of course be established whether the plaintiffs were indeed the recipients of such treatment. But if this is demonstrably so, they have a moral right to recompense.

Of course, if Britain were to be held retrospectively liable for the slave trade, the Irish and Indian famines, the decimation of Australia’s indigenous population, the concentration camps of the Boer war, the Amritsar massacre and all too many other occurrences throughout its imperialist history, this country would be skint.

There is an argument to be had as to what cut off point – if any – should apply. But the suppression of what was known at the time as ‘the Kenya emergency’, with the first word pronounced ‘keen-yer’, was the work of my father’s generation.

The PA has more:

“The test case claimants, Ndiku Mutua, Paulo Nzili, Wambugu Wa Nyingi and Jane Muthoni Mara, who are in their 70s and 80s, have flown 4,000 miles from their rural homes for the trial, which will also consider whether the claim was brought outside the legal time limit.

The judge heard that Mr Mutua and Mr Nzili had been castrated, Mr Nyingi was beaten unconscious in an incident in which 11 men were clubbed to death, and Mrs Mara had been subjected to appalling sexual abuse.

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A Split In The Making.

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Whilst I wouldn’t normally be terribly interested in the British political scene even from these early days it’s possible to see how the Tory and LibDem coalition will split, William Hague (once a spotty youth at Tory Party conferences) reveals more:

“”Of course we’ve all had to make compromises, but we’ve made those in a sensible way. Really it is the best of the Liberal Democrat manifesto with the bulk of the Conservative manifesto. And it’s politics, it’s government, to make the necessary compromises. “

Key words: the bulk.

In the run-up to the final deal there were plenty of derogatory comments from Tory politicians showing their natural contempt for the Liberals and they might be able to keep it under control for a period of time during their honeymoon, but it won’t last.

The Tories are downright contemptuous of the Lib Dems, but had such a lust for power that they can moderate it in the short-term.

The Lib Dems, outside of Parliament, will come to hate the Tories and all they stand for, any radicals in their ranks would surely agitate against this coalition.

Certainly, it does give both parties what they want, for a brief period of time, which is POWER.

However, such an alliance is by its very nature unstable and conflicted. if Labour can attack them competently and prepare themselves for a new election then all bets are off.

I can’t see this alliance lasting a year, you might even expect another general election within six to nine months.

That’s the type of political calculation that should be focusing any opposition to the Tory government and their Lib Dem lackeys.

Racism In The UK.

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The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) has just released a report on racism in the United Kingdom.

There have been four such reports since 1999 and they can be found here, in English and French.

Briefly scanning the report I noticed a few issues, particularly concerning blacks in Britain, the Roma, refugees and how many Muslims feel stigmatised in the current political climate:

“While progress has been made towards eliminating discrimination, many inequalities remain. Black children are still around twice as likely as others to be permanently excluded from school, and outcomes in the field of de facto ethnic and religious segregation in schools also do not seem to have improved significantly. Not enough has been done to eliminate prejudices and discrimination occurring in the workplace, for example against Muslims; Black and minority ethnic groups are also under­represented across the public sector. In parallel, discrimination law has become more complex, meaning victims need legal assistance in this field. Some ethnic minorities continue to face specific health problems, and their health in general is vulnerable to conditions of social and economic disadvantage. Ethnic minorities continue to be over­represented in the prison population, and their proportion continues to rise.

Gypsies and Travellers are still among the most disadvantaged minority ethnic groups in the United Kingdom and the most likely to face discrimination in all fields of daily life, and they face some of the most severe levels of hostility and prejudice. Much more still needs to be done to redress the situation. Adequate site provision, which is frequently at the crux of escalating community tensions, remains an especially pressing issue.

Refugees and asylum seekers also remain vulnerable in the United Kingdom to destitution, wrong decisions and wrongful detention, and the tone of public discourse remains frequently hostile towards them. At the same time, measures put forward by the authorities as part of proposals to consolidate immigration legislation foreshadow generally more restrictive policies in this field, and hostility towards migrant workers appears to be increasing.

Anti­terror provisions also continue to cause concern. Stops and searches under anti­terror legislation disproportionately affect members of Black and minority ethnic communities. Research has shown that Muslims feel stigmatised and alienated by these measures, and young Muslims who have been regularly stopped and searched feel increasingly marginalised. Black men are also around four times more likely than White men to be included in the national DNA database. Overall, Black and minority ethnic people are more likely to be imprisoned than White people, and more likely than White people to die in prison. “

I think the ECRI’s report paints an accurate picture as far as I can make out. I will come back to it later, time permitting.

Update 1: The ECRI discusses the Crown Prosecution Service’s annual report on hate crime.

Unfortunately it’s not very easy to find nor is the latest report terribly lucid, it doesn’t tell you anything significantly worthwhile. I was hoping for a breakdown on racial offences in Britain, etc but the best I could find was that some “75% of hate crime defendants were identified as belonging to the White British category, and 79% were categorised as White.”. That’s about it.

Record High.

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The Press Association reports:

“More than 924 reports of bigoted violence and abuse were received last year by The Community Security Trust (CST).

The charity, which monitors anti-Semitism in Britain, said the figures marked the worst year since records began in 1984. They included violent street attacks, arson, egg-throwing, racist graffiti, website hacking and hate mail.

The majority of incidents recorded by the CST, from violence to desecration of Jewish properties, took place in London (460), followed by Manchester (206), Hertfordshire (48) and Leeds (35).

They included an incident in which a Jewish man driving an electric wheelchair was rammed by a car after leaving a synagogue. The driver shouted “Jew, Jew” at him but he escaped with minor injuries. In Yorkshire, strips of bacon were arranged in the shape of a star of David and stuck the fence of a home where a Jewish family lived with the word “Jewboy” written underneath. A 12-year-old girl, the only Jew at her school, was attacked by a mob of up to 20 fellow pupils who pulled her hair and chanted: “death to Jews, kill all Jews.” “

I can’t help thinking that the climate created by hostility to Israelis, everyday Israelis in terms of negative boycotts, pejorative language in the media and a decidedly unhealthy focus on one country in the Middle East, has contributed to racial attacks on Jews in Britain.

Those involved in campaigning against Israelis bear some responsibility for that climate of antagonism and the resultant racial violence.

Update 1: The CST blog reports on an extreme attack in Ilford, and figures for France, which have risen by 75%.

Update 2: Topically, students should read the CST guide, A Student’s Guide to Antisemitism on Campus [ A PDF download].

In fact, everyone should read it, as it is well written and easy to digest.

Update 3: Engage has good coverage, with Mark Gardner in the comments threads.

Update 4: If ever you wanted to see an indicator of social anti-Jewish racism on the web, then take a trip to the Comment is Free thread, which discusses the rise in physical attacks on Jews in Britain during 2009. It is on Britain’s leading liberal newspaper’s web site, the Guardian and yet its comments threads are littered with snide remarks about Jews and Israelis. Terrible. What an indictment.

Written by modernityblog

05/02/2010 at 02:53

Photographed And Fingerprinted

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The Independent has an awful tale of how children are treated at Yarl’s Wood:

“The thundering knock came early in the morning. It was 6.30am. Without waiting for an answer the security chain across the door was smashed from its fittings. Feet thundered up the staircase. The five children, all under the age of 10, were alarmed to be woken from their sleep by the dozen burly strangers who burst into their bedrooms, switched on the lights and shouted at them to get up.

This is not a police state. It is Manchester in supposedly civilised Britain in the 21st century. There is a clue to what this is about in the names of the children: Nardin, who is 10; Karin who is seven; the three-year-old twins Bishoy and Anastasia, and their one-year-old baby sister Angela.

Their parents, Hany and Samah Mansour, are Coptic Christians who fled to the UK after a campaign of persecution by a group of Islamic fundamentalists in Egypt whose friends in the secret police tortured Hany. But even though six Coptic Christians were shot dead by Muslim extremists only last week in a town not far from their home, the British Government has decided that it does not believe them. And so Britain’s deportation police have launched another of their terrifying dawn raids on sleeping children.”

Written by modernityblog

12/01/2010 at 01:44

Tory Poor Laws.

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History might well repeat itself if the Tories win the next General Election in Britain, when they will aim to starve the unemployed and bring back modern day workhouses.

Comrade Coatesy has more.

Update:
In other related news, the Tories seem to have appointed that poor vacuum cleaner salesman, Dyson, as UK’s ‘tech tsar’. Oh my.

Written by modernityblog

05/10/2009 at 14:34

The BBC, License Fee and Racism.

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Apparently Lord Reith set high standards at the BBC, from wearing peculiar evening dress whilst delivering the news on the radio to more recently a diversity of news coverage, which is said to be the envy of many national broadcasting services.

The BBC has been renowned for producing intelligent, provocative and questioning documentaries.

Part of its remit was educational, to improve the minds of its listeners and later on interviews.

So it is all the more shocking that bits of the BBC empire are used by racists to push their propaganda.

It is a fairly common practice as members of the Far Right and neo-Nazis use modern technology to disseminate their views, and part of that, is posting on message forum such as 5Live.

This is a sample:

“Message 4 – posted by Brandon (U11763530) , Yesterday
//This is good news – it sends a message that inciting hatred by spreading lies//

No-one knows how many Jews died in the Holocaust.Sticking rigidly to a figure of six million is the lie.”

“Message 12 – posted by Brandon (U11763530) , Yesterday
//If you insist an exact figure which is wrong then you are lying.//

“Not true.

It’s only a lie if I KNOW the figure is wrong.”

Well we know the figure for Jewish deaths is not exactly six million so it’s a lie to say it is.”

“Message 24 – posted by Brandon (U11763530) , Yesterday
//In which countries does the law require people to agree that precisely 6 million Jews died in the Holocaust?//

If you go under you’re in serious bother in quite a few countries.From my recollection the number has gone from 3 million-odd to anything up to 12 million.Some have even suggested counting the unborn children that the Holocaust victims would have had if they had not been killed. “

“Message 27 – posted by Brandon (U11763530) , Yesterday
//No but when you make idiotic statements it just gives others on here more ammunition. //

You write your posts and I’ll write mine.If you want to appease the Islamophobes on here that’s your business.I just tell the truth.On this topic there is considerable doubt that the number of Jewish holocaust victims was actually as high as six million.Incidentally the Holocaust would be of no interest to Muslims but for the fact that it led to the creation of Israel.”

“Message 79 – posted by Brandon (U11763530) , 14 Hours Ago
//Brandon you yourself said that you had heard estimates ranging from 3-12 million.//

We don’t have Holocaust denial laws in the UK.Nor do the Americans.

//Have any of the people who made those estimates been prosecuted?//

I dunno.There haven’t been that many prosecutions in total.What number did David Irving come up with?

I think the tone and nature of Brandon’s views are clear.

The BBC is complicit in this articulation of anti-Jewish racism, not because it does it itself, but rather it does little to curb it. Their in-house rules say:

“We reserve the right to fail messages which

* Are considered likely to disrupt, provoke, attack or offend others
* Are racist, sexist, homophobic, sexually explicit, abusive or otherwise objectionable
* Contain swear words or other language likely to offend
* Break the law or condone or encourage unlawful activity. This includes breach of copyright, defamation and contempt of court.
* Advertise products or services for profit or gain
* Are seen to impersonate someone else
* Include contact details such as phone numbers, postal or email addresses
* Are written in anything other than English – Welsh and Gaelic may be used where marked
* Contain links to other websites which break our Editorial Guidelines
* Describe or encourage activities which could endanger the safety or well-being of others
* Are considered to be ‘spam’, that is posts containing the same. or similar, message posted multiple times
* Are considered to be off-topic for the particular message board”

As Burke once argued “It is necessary only for the good man to do nothing for evil to triumph”

Time for the BBC to act, or be reminded of its inaction when faced with the rise of anti-Jewish racism and Holocaust denial.

(H/T: Arfur)

Written by modernityblog

04/09/2009 at 02:35

Green Thursday And Other Things.

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As the events in China show, the people are revolting. So it is with Iran, and although in both countries massive state repression has been implemented the people still keep revolting.

Now is your chance to share in those revolts:

“Here is something you can do about it. An anniversary demonstration at the Iranian embassy in London is scheduled for this Thursday, starting at 6 PM. Please wear green and come along to 16 Prince’s Gate, SW7. The nearest Tube station is South Kensington.”

Two Weeks Notice: A Latin American Politics Blog has more coverage of Honduras (thanks to Flesh is Grass). I am still looking for decent local information on events.

Darran at Red Star has a deceptively clever original essay which seeks to answer the question: why has marxism had only limited influence in Britain?

Recommended.

Over at Tulip there’s a piece about the Israeli journalists’ union being expelled from the International Federation of Journalists.

Mick Hartley has provided excellent background to events in and around Xinjiang for many years, read on: Razing Kashgar, A Force for Good, Hizb ut-Tahrir in Xinjiang, China’s Empire and China and Xinjiang.

Update: See Left Luggage for Where now for anti-fascism?

Update 2: Hates Crimes at Racismreview.com.

Harry Barnes In Memory Of My Father.

Eric Reeves Sudan Elections and Southern Self-Determination: At Growing Risk.

At the El Nuevo Pantano Peronism: A Brief History.

Written by modernityblog

07/07/2009 at 18:36