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Bitter memories: Tule Lake

(1975) – A documentary on the Tule Lake Japanese Relocation Camp presented through interviews with Japanese Americans who were interned there.

Link for video: https://alethonews.wordpress.com/2017/10/24/bitter-memories-history-of-the-tule-lake-japanese-relocation-center/

 

March 24, 2014 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , , , | Comments Off on Bitter memories: Tule Lake

A short history of British torture

ICC | December 2005

When the House of Commons was debating how much to increase the time limit for detention without trial the question of torture came up. Officially this was limited to the nice considerations of whether it was all right to send people to places where torture is used and whether Britain can use information collected by the use of torture in other countries. This discussion gave an impression of democratic Britain as the home of civilised behaviour where the very idea of torture is repugnant to our legislators – unlike, say, the US with its secret CIA jails and where Cheney has been labelled the ‘Vice President for Torture’. In reality, the British state has a long history of using and developing a whole range of torture techniques.

Interrogation in Northern Ireland

Between 1971 and 1975 more than 2000 people were interned without trial by the state in Northern Ireland. Picked up without having any charges laid, or knowing when they were going to be released, detainees were subject to all sorts of treatments, some coming under the heading of ‘interrogation in depth’. Apart from prolonged sessions of oppressive questioning, serious threats, wrist bending, choking and beatings, there were instances of internees being forced to run naked over broken glass and being thrown, tied and hooded, out of helicopters a few feet above the ground. The ‘five techniques’ at the centre of the interrogators’ work were: sensory deprivation through being hooded (often while naked); being forced to stand against walls (sometimes for over 20 hours and even for more than 40); being subjected to continuous noise (from machinery such as generators or compressors for periods of up to 6 or 7 days); deprivation of food and water; sleep deprivation for periods of up to week. Relays of interrogation teams were used against the victims.

The British state tried to discredit reports of torture. Stories were fed to the media about injuries being self-inflicted – “one hard-line Provisional was given large whiskies and a box of king-size cigarettes for punching himself in both eyes” (Daily Telegraph, 31/10/77). There were indeed instances of self-harm, but these were either suicide attempts or done with the hope of being transferred to hospital accommodation.

Then the press said that any measures were justified if they helped to ‘prevent violence’. They contrasted “ripping out fingernails, beating people with steel rods and applying electric shocks to their genitalia” (Daily Telegraph 3/9/76), examples of “outright brutality”, with the measures used in Northern Ireland.

In 1978 the European Court of Human Rights said that the techniques Britain had used caused “intense physical and mental suffering and … acute psychiatric disturbance”, but that while this was “inhuman and degrading treatment” it didn’t amount to torture. This was a victory for the British state because it was keen to use means that would cause the maximum distress to the victim with the minimum external evidence. They had been previously referred to the European Court over torture in Cyprus, but in fact British interrogators had been using various combinations of the ‘five techniques’ for a long time. When the army and RUC approached Northern Ireland’s Prime Minister, Brian Faulkner, for formal approval “They told him that the ‘in-depth’ techniques they planned to use were those the army had used … many times before when Britain was faced with insurgencies in her colonies, including Palestine, Malaya, Kenya, Cyprus, the British Cameroons, Brunei, British Guyana, Aden, Borneo, Malaysia and the Persian Gulf” (Provos The IRA and Sinn Fein Peter Taylor).

By any means deemed necessary

British intervention in the Malayan ‘emergency’ in the 1950s has been held up as a model of suppression and ‘counter-insurgency’. Apart from the camps established, the murder squads, use of rigid food controls, burning down villages and the imposition of emergency regulations, the use of torture was an integral part of British operations. With 650,000 people uprooted and ‘resettled’ in New Villages, or put in concentration camps, there was also a programme of ‘re-education’.

British action in Kenya in the 1950s also showed what British civilisation was prepared to do. At various times over 90,000 ‘suspects’ were imprisoned, in either detention camps or ‘protected villages’. At one point Nairobi (population 110,000) was emptied, with 16,500 then detained and 2,500 expelled to reserves. Assaults and violence, often to the point of death, were extensive. As in Malaya, ‘rehabilitation’ was one of the goals of the operation. More than 1000 people were hanged, using a mobile gallows that was taken round the country. Overall, maybe 100-150,000 died through exhaustion, disease, starvation and systematic brutality.

Recent revelations in The Guardian (12/11/5) concerned a secret torture centre, the “London Cage”, that operated between July 1940 and September 1948. Three houses in Kensington were used to interrogate some 3500 German officers, soldiers and civilians. Still in use for three years after the end of the war, interrogation included beatings, being forced to stand to attention for up to 26 hours, threats of execution or unnecessary surgery, starvation, sleep deprivation, dousings with cold water etc. “In one complaint lodged at the National Archives, a 27-year-old German journalist being held at this camp said he had spent two years as a prisoner of the Gestapo. And not once, he said, did they treat him as badly as the British.”

No exceptions

There is a continuity in the British state’s actions. The Lieutenant Colonel in charge of the ‘London Cage’ received an OBE for his interrogation work in the First World War. In the 1950s there were reports of Britain experimenting with drugs, surgery and torture with a view to designing techniques that would be effective but look harmless. In the 1970s thousands of army officers and senior civil servants were trained to use psychological techniques for security purposes. Inevitably, the truth about current activities is not in the public domain.

In general, British democracy has been better than others at concealing the brutal way its state functions. Anything that is exposed is denied or dismissed as being an isolated excess. In France the extensive use of torture in the war in Algeria was publicised as part of a battle between different factions of the colonial aparatus. Victims had hoses inserted in their mouths and their stomachs filled with water, electrodes were put on genitals, heads were immersed in water. During the Battle of Algiers 3-4000 people ‘disappeared’: fatal victims of French torture techniques.

Although France, and more recently the US in Iraq and Guantanamo Bay, have been less successful than Britain in keeping their actions under wraps, all these “democracies” use the most brutal methods of interrogation and detention. They also learn from each other’s activities, most notably in Vietnam, where the US drew on British experience in Malaya as much as earlier French experience in Indo-China.

Source

January 1, 2014 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Canada’s Concentration Camps – The War Measures Act

Japs Keep Moving Photo: Unsourced, tumblr
By Diana Breti | The Law Connection | 1998

Canadian Concentration Camps

By world standards Canada is a country that respects and protects its citizens’ human rights. That has not always been true, however. Many people are familiar with the story of the internment of Japanese-Canadians in BC during World War II. But not many people are aware that the Japanese were not the only Canadians imprisoned during wartime simply because of their ethnic origin. The history of Canada includes more than one shameful incident in which the Canadian government used the law to violate the civil rights of its own citizens.

The War Measures Act

The War Measures Act was enacted on 22 August 1914, and gave the federal government full authority to do everything deemed necessary “for the security, defence, peace, order and welfare of Canada”. It could be used when the government thought that Canada was about to be invaded or war would be declared, in order to mobilize all segments of society to support the war effort. The Act also gave the federal government sweeping emergency powers that allowed Cabinet to administer the war effort without accountability to Parliament, and without regard to existing legislation. It gave the government additional powers of media censorship, arrest without charge, deportation without trial, and the expropriation, control and disposal of property. This Act was always implemented via an Order in Council, rather than by approval of the democratically elected Parliament.

World War I

After Great Britain entered the First World War in August 1914, the government of Canada issued an Order in Council under the War Measures Act. It required the registration and in certain cases the internment of aliens of “enemy nationality”. This included the more than 80,000 Canadians who were formerly citizens of the Austrian-Hungarian empire. These individuals had to register as “enemy aliens” and report to local authorities on a regular basis. Twenty-four “concentration camps” (later called “internment camps”) were established across Canada, eight of them in British Columbia. View a list of World War 1 Concentration Camps. The camps were supposed to house enemy alien immigrants who had contravened regulations or who were deemed to be security threats. In fact, the “enemy aliens” could be interned if they failed to register, or failed to report monthly, or travelled without permission, or wrote to relatives in Austria.

Other less concrete reasons given for internment included “acting in a very suspicious manner” and being “undesirable”. By the middle of 1915, 4,000 of the internees had been imprisoned for being “indigent” (poor and unemployed). A total of 8,579 Canadians were interned between 1914 and 1920. Over 5,000 of them were of Ukrainian descent. Germans, Poles, Italians, Bulgarians, Croatians, Turks, Serbians, Hungarians, Russians, Jews, and Romanians were also imprisoned. Of the 8,579 internees, only 2,321 could be classed as “prisoners of war” (i.e. “captured in arms or belonging to enemy reserves”); the rest were civilians.

Upon each individual’s arrest, whatever money and property they had was taken by the government. In the internment camps they were denied access to newspapers and their correspondence was censored. They were sometimes mistreated by the guards. One hundred and seven internees died, including several shot while trying to escape. They were forced to work on maintaining the camps, road-building, railway construction, and mining. As the need for soldiers overseas led to a shortage of workers in Canada, many of these internees were released on parole to work for private companies.

The first World War ended in 1918, but the forced labour program was such a benefit to Canadian corporations that the internment was continued for two years after the end of the War.

World War II

During World War II the War Measures Act was used again to intern Canadians, and 26 internment camps were set up across Canada. In 1940 an Order in Council was passed that defined enemy aliens as “all persons of German or Italian racial origin who have become naturalized British subjects since September 1, 1922”. (At the time, Canada didn’t grant passports and citizenship on its own, so immigrants were “naturalized” by becoming British subjects.) A further Order in Council outlawed the Communist Party. Estimates suggest that some 30,000 individuals were affected by these Orders; that is, they were forced to register with the RCMP and to report to them on a monthly basis. The government interned approximately 500 Italians and over 100 communists.

In New Brunswick, 711 Jews, refugees from the holocaust, were interned at the request of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill because he thought there might be spies in the group.

In 1942, the government decided it wanted 2,240 acres of Indian Reserve land at Stony Point, in southwestern Ontario, to establish an advanced infantry training base. Apparently the decision to take Reserve land for the army base was made to avoid the cost and time involved in expropriating non-Aboriginal lands. The Stony Point Reserve comprised over half the Reserve territory of the Chippewas of Kettle & Stony Point. Under the Indian Act, reserve lands can only be sold by Surrender, which involves a vote by the Band membership. The Band members voted against the Surrender, however the Band realized the importance of the war effort and they were willing to lease the land to the Government. The Government rejected the offer to lease. On April 14, 1942, an Order-in-Council authorizing the appropriation of Stony Point was passed under the provisions of the War Measures Act. The military was sent in to forcibly remove the residents of Stony Point. Houses, buildings and the burial ground were bulldozed to establish Camp Ipperwash. By the terms of the Order-in-Council, the Military could use the Reserve lands at Stony Point only until the end of World War II. However, those lands have not yet been returned. The military base was closed in the early 1950’s, and since then the lands have been used for cadet training, weapons training and recreational facilities for military personnel.

After the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1942, the government passed an Order in Council authorizing the removal of “enemy aliens” within a 100-mile radius of the BC coast. On March 4, 1942 22,000 Japanese Canadians were given 24 hours to pack before being interned. They were first incarcerated in a temporary facility at Hastings Park Race Track in Vancouver. Women, children and older people were sent to internment camps in the Interior. Others were forced into road construction camps. There were also “self-supporting camps”, where 1,161 internees paid to lease farms in a less restrictive environment, although they were still considered “enemy aliens”. Men who complained about separation from their families or violated the curfew were sent to the “prisoner of war” camps in Ontario.

The property of the Japanese Canadians – land, businesses, and other assets – were confiscated by the government and sold, and the proceeds used to pay for their internment. In 1945, the government extended the Order in Council to force the Japanese Canadians to go to Japan and lose their Canadian citizenship, or move to eastern Canada. Even though the war was over, it was illegal for Japanese Canadians to return to Vancouver until 1949. In 1988 Canada apologized for this miscarriage of justice, admitting that the actions of the government were influenced by racial discrimination. The government signed a redress agreement providing a small amount of money compensation.

Could This Happen Today?

The War Measures Act was repealed in 1988. It was replaced with the Emergencies Act. The Emergencies Act allows the federal government to make temporary laws in the event of a serious national emergency. The Emergencies Act differs from the War Measures Act in two important ways:

1. A declaration of an emergency by the Cabinet must be reviewed by Parliament
2. Any temporary laws made under the Act are subject to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Thus any attempt by the government to suspend the civil rights of Canadians, even in an emergency, will be subject to the “reasonable and justified” test under section 1 of the Charter. Restrictions and limitations on freedom were inevitable during times of war. To the Canadian government, internment during both World Wars was a practical solution to a perceived security problem. However the terms of the Orders in Council, and the methods used to carry them out, reveal that the government was influenced more by racial discrimination and anti-immigrant sentiments than by any real threat to national security. The stories of the internees are a reminder of how human rights are vulnerable in situations of crisis.

By Diana Breti
Centre for Education, Law and Society (CELS)
Simon Fraser University
Vancouver, British Columbia

October 10, 2010 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments