ModernityBlog

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

Posts Tagged ‘Colonial thinking

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.”

Liberal Conspiracy, Ben White And Racism.

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I use to read Liberal Conspiracy years back, however, its capricious moderation policy put me off. Still I recently saw that Ben White had been given a platform, again.

I was surprised, as White has had a wide range of disreputable political views, but more so when White invoked the name of the CST in his arguments.

In the discussions a member of the CST, Dave Rich, tries to correct White’s misrepresentations:

“Ben White’s research is as poor as his reasoning. The Working Definition is linked to from the CST website and quoted in our guide to combating antisemitism on campus. We use it as it was intended: as a rough guide to antisemitism, a starting for investigation. It is not the sole, definitive definition and was never intended to be: hence all the caveats about context etc.

I find the horror at the eumc’s consultation with Jewish groups laughable. Is the suggestion that it is wrong for a governmental body to consult with a particular minority when investigating prejudice against them? And if they found contradictory views, I guess they went with those views which carried more weight in that community.

The issue with UCU is not so much their rejection of eumc as their rejection of macpherson. In recent years large numbers of Jewish academics have complained about antisemitic bullying and harassment in the union and have been ignored, ridiculed and persecuted as a result. Many have resigned. You may disagree with their view of what is antisemitism, but this is their perception. The motion on eumce is just an attempt to formalise this, because the Union feels that any worries about antisemitism hamper their ability to campaign against Israel.

In reality, eumc does no such thing. NUS use the working definition, but just last month passed a very pro-Palestinian policy. However for people like Ben White, “criticism of Israel” is a euphemism to hide an anything-goes attitude to attacking Israel and its supporters. But then what do you expect from a man who says he can understand why people are antisemitic? ” [My emphasis.]

Later on, the thread becomes a bit of a car crash, but the discussion of EUMC has a relevance as Jhate shows in its latest post:

“In the Fars article, Toben presented Holocaust denial as a technique for depriving Israel of its “main tool of propaganda.” This is consistent with the approach taken by many Holocaust deniers in the Arab and Muslim world, who argue vociferously that they are not in favor of Nazis or against Jews; they are merely anti-Zionists. This point was made ad nauseum during the infamous 2006 Tehran Holocaust denial conference convened by President Ahmadinejad’s government, at which Toben was a delegate. [Toben wrote about his experiences at that conference here. He has visited Iran numerous times since then, including as recently as Feb. 2011.] “

That’s, how antisemites, Jew haters and Jew baiters will adjust their propaganda depending on their audience and try to seem more mainstream than they really are, which is where the EUMC Working Definition of Antisemitism comes in, as a helpful guide.

A copy can be found on the EUMC’s successor body, the Fundamental Rights Agency.

The FRA covers a lot of ground and whilst a few of their reports are a little dated they are worth a read.

Their earlier report on Muslims in the European Union: Discrimination and Islamophobia should be read by anyone genuinely interested in antiracism.

More of their reports are here.

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 »

Ben White, Bigot Or Colonialist?

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Ben White will be well known to this blog’s readers and whilst normally I try to ignore that individual, I will make an exception in this case.

Ben White has a lot of form.

But what I find worrying, in this instance, is White’s underlying thinking as Seismic Shock ably illustrates:

Last year, White wrote for Comment is Free:

” […] the Palestinian Authority is also staffed with “native” West Bank leaders for whom business interests long since trumped fighting for national liberation. Then there are also the groupings created by individuals who have a loyal power base around them.”

White here criticises huge swathes of Palestinian society in a terribly unfair manner. Also I can’t help thinking that his use of the term “native” sounds horribly colonialist.

Having told us that he understands antisemitism (which might vex Israelis), and then criticised the “natives” in the West Bank (which might vex Palestinians), we have to wonder, is Ben White really the best person to be running political campaigns about the Middle East?

The more you read White’s new site, well, it just gets more and more confusing.

[My emphasis.]

I couldn’t have put it better.

Written by modernityblog

24/11/2010 at 14:29

Nation Or Government?

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Colin Shindler’s letter in the Guardian highlights some of the dodgy thinking behind the Guardian editorial which uses the phrase:

“Both events in London and Washington are the marks of an arrogant nation that has overreached itself. “

Arrogant nation?

Not as Shindler points out Government or administration (if we were discussing North America), but the Guardian editorial writer chose to use the words “arrogant nation”

That says to me that he or she has wider problems with the very notion of Israel, and not the actions of a particular administration.

The Guardian editorial will have been the product of much discussion within that newspaper, and the writer will have been a highly educated individual, lucid, experienced and in command of his or her words, so the choice of “arrogant nation” is particularly revealing of their underlying psychology, or should that be complex.

Written by modernityblog

25/03/2010 at 11:56