ModernityBlog

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

Posts Tagged ‘British Empire

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.”

Bahrain Ruling Elite Attack Doctors.

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Libya might be in the news, but for utterly contemptible behaviour look no further than Bahrain. The regime there is attacking doctors and other medical staff in the open.

The contemptible rulers of Bahrain felt emboldened when Saudi Arabia flexed its imperialist muscle and sent security forces to the small kingdom, since then the crackdown has intensified, as the Independent reports:

“The intimidation and detention of doctors treating dying and injured pro-democracy protesters in Bahrain is revealed today in a series of chilling emails obtained by The Independent.

At least 32 doctors, including surgeons, physicians, paediatricians and obstetricians, have been arrested and detained by Bahrain’s police in the last month in a campaign of intimidation that runs directly counter to the Geneva Convention guaranteeing medical care to people wounded in conflict. Doctors around the world have expressed their shock and outrage.

One doctor, an intensive care specialist, was held after she was photographed weeping over a dead protester. Another was arrested in the theatre room while operating on a patient.

Many of the doctors, aged from 33 to 65, have been “disappeared” – held incommunicado or at undisclosed locations. Their families do not know where they are. Nurses, paramedics and ambulance staff have also been detained.

Emails between a Bahraini surgeon and a British colleague, seen by The Independent, describe in vivid detail the threat facing medical staff as they struggle to treat victims of the violence. They provide a glimpse of the terror and exhaustion suffered by the doctors and medical staff.

Bahraini government forces backed by Saudi Arabian troops have cracked down hard on demonstrators since the unrest began on 15 February – and the harshness of their response has now been extended to those treating the injured. “

What is shocking is, how such brutality is barely mentioned in the wider Western media and how Britain has played a part in consolidating the power of the minority rulers in Bahrain.

(H/T: Hussein Ibish)

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

An Empire On The Cheap? Or How Not To Pay Your Taxes?

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The British Empire has a certain resonance to the Brits, and remains a popular historical myth within the wider public discourse, that longing for a bygone age when Brits could survey the world and take any bits that took their fancy.

Ascension Island was one of them, a lump of rock in the Atlantic, but the near terminal decline of the British Empire and penny-pinching in Whitehall have yet to embarrass the British into paying the taxes that they owe, the Times has more:

“Unless the Ministry of Defence pays millions of pounds in unpaid taxes for its RAF airbase, the island will be bankrupt by June. The only school will have to close, the hospital will have no doctors, the few shops, one hotel and fledgeling tourist trade will be unviable. Even the conservation programme will have to be abandoned.

The threat comes because the MoD is determined to cut costs to pay for Afghanistan. Its refusal to pay back-taxes on the airbase that Britain shares with the US has left Ascension with a £900,000 deficit on its £6 million budget. The island’s small council and government, responsible for all services to the 900 inhabitants, have cut spending to the bone.

Unless a deal can be done in Whitehall, Britain’s strategic asset in the South Atlantic may soon become no more than a barren fortress, the function it first had when troops arrived in the 1820s to prevent a French fleet from rescuing Napoleon. “

Oh, the Brits and their pith helmet style diplomacy.

Written by modernityblog

22/10/2009 at 20:16