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What archives? UK ordered destruction of ‘embarrassing’ colonial papers

RT | November 30, 2013

Britain systematically destroyed documents in colonies that were about to gain independence, declassified Foreign Office files reveal. ‘Operation Legacy’ saw sensitive documents secretly burnt or dumped to cover up traces of British activities.

The latest National Archives publication made from a collection of 8,800 colonial-era files held by the Foreign Office for decades revealed deliberate document elimination by British authorities in former colonies.

The secret program dubbed ‘Operation Legacy’ was in force throughout the 1950s and 1960s, in at least 23 countries and territories under British rule that eventually gained independence after WWII. Among others these countries included: Belize, British Guiana, Jamaica, Kenya, Malaysia and Singapore, Northern Rhodesia (today Zambia and Zimbabwe), Tanzania, and Uganda.

In a telegram from the UK Colonial Office dispatched to British embassies on May 3, 1961, colonial secretary Iain Macleod instructed diplomats to withhold official documents from newly elected independent governments in those countries, and presented general guidance on what to do.

British diplomats were briefed on how exactly they were supposed to get rid of documents that “might embarrass members of the police, military forces, public servants (such as police agents or informers)” or “might compromise sources of intelligence”, or could be put to ‘wrong’ use by incoming national authorities.

‘Operation Legacy’ also called for the destruction or removal of “all papers which are likely to be interpreted, either reasonably or by malice, as indicating racial prejudice or bias”.

The newly declassified files revealed that the Royal Navy base in Singapore was turned into the Asian region’s primary document destruction center. A special facility called a “splendid incinerator” was used to burn “lorry loads of files”, Agence France-Presse reported.

The “central incinerator” in Singapore was necessary to avoid a situation similar to that in India in 1947, when a “pall of smoke” from British officials burning their papers in Delhi, ahead of India proclaiming independence, filled the local press with critical reports. That diplomatic oversight was taken into account, as ‘Operation Legacy’ operatives were strictly instructed not to burn documents openly.

But not all the doomed archives could be shipped to Singapore. In some cases documents were eliminated on site, sometimes being dumped in the sea “at the maximum practicable distance from shore” and in deep, current-free areas, the National Archives publication claims.

The newly published collection of documents reveals that the British cleared out Kenyan intelligence files that contained information about abuse and torture of Kenyans during the Mau Mau uprising against British colonial rule in the 1950s. A special committee formed in 1961 coordinated document elimination in Kenya. Yet some files were spared simply when an estimated 307 boxes of documents were evacuated to Britain, just months ahead of the country gaining independence in December 1963.

The existence of some remaining Mau Mau legal case documents was revealed in January 2011.

Even after eliminating important evidence half a century ago, earlier in 2013 the British government was forced to pay 23 million dollars in compensation to over 5,200 elderly Kenyans, who had suffered from Britain’s punitive measures during the Mau Mau uprising.

In another documented occasion, in April 1957, five lorries delivered tons of documents from the British High Commission in Kuala Lumpur to the Royal Navy base in Singapore. Files were incinerated there; these contained details about British rule in Malaya, such as a massacre of 24 rubber plantation workers at the Malayan village of Batang Kali in 1948, who had allegedly been murdered by British soldiers.

Despite the mass document elimination, Britain’s Foreign Office still has some 1.2 million unpublished documents on British colonial policy, David Anderson, professor of African history at the University of Warwick, told AFP.

So Her Majesty’s government might still publish more valuable material that can shed more light on how one of the biggest empires in human history used to be governed. Overall, Britain had total control over 50 colonies including Canada, India, Australia, Nigeria, and Jamaica. Currently, there are 14 British Overseas Territories that remain under British rule, though most of them are self-governing and all have leaderships of their own.

November 30, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

£3K to torture victims ‘isn’t much’: British MP

Press TV – June 9, 2013

British Respect party MP George Galloway has slammed the government’s small payment of £3,000 apiece to Kenyan victims of torture and mistreatment under British colonial rule during the 1950s.

On Press TV’s weekly program Comment, Galloway reviewed the torture Kenyans experienced during the Mau Mau uprising against British colonial rule, explaining that a recent compensation of around £20 million to 5,000 victims is not enough.

“Now that sounds like a lot of money [£20 million] but it actually works out at £3,000 compensation each”, Galloway said.

“We’re talking about men who were castrated by the British colonial administration in Kenya. I’m talking about women who were multiply raped and sexually abused, for that kind of torture. £3,000 ain’t much,” he added.

Galloway also said that British Foreign Secretary William Hague did not accept the legal liability for British colonizers’ brutal crimes in Kenya.

At least 10,000 people died during the 1952-1960 Mau Mau uprising against British colonial rule, with some sources giving far higher estimates.

Moreover, Galloway highlighted that the British government still has “hundreds of thousands” of uncompensated victims of British imperial crimes around the world.

June 9, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Britain pays £20m to Mau Mau victims

Morning Star | June 6, 2013

Foreign Secretary William Hague stopped short of issuing an apology today to the elderly Kenyans tortured by British colonial forces during the Mau Mau uprising.

The Mau Mau movement emerged in central Kenya during the 1950s to get back seized land and push for an end to colonial rule. Supporters were detained in camps and thousands were tortured, maimed or executed.

Mr Hague told the House of Commons that the government had reached a full and final settlement with solicitors of 5,228 claimants totalling £19.9 million.

The government would also support the construction of a memorial in Kenya’s capital Nairobi to the victims of torture and ill-treatment during the colonial era.

But he said the British government continued to deny liability for what happened during the uprising.

Shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander said Labour supported the government.

However left Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn said it was strange of the government to offer compensation but to deny any formal responsibility.

“I’m a bit surprised,” he said, adding: “This is a very strange result, to offer compensation and a settlement for Leigh Day and at the same time deny liability,” he said.

Mr Corbyn pointed out that many MPs in the 1950s raised the issue in Parliament at the time, praising the Kenyans for their “tenacity” in seeking justice.

“When we deny rights and justice, when we deny democracy, when we practise concentration camps, it reduces our ability to criticise anybody else for that fundamental denial of human rights, and I think this is a lesson that needs to be learnt not just in Kenya but in other colonial wars as well where equal brutality was used by British forces,” he said.

Mr Hague said there was no inconsistency in recognising the suffering endured by many of the victims while continuing to deny liability.

June 7, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Over 8,000 Mau Mau victims seek compensation from Britain

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Press TV – June 5, 2013

More than 8,000 Kenyans, severely mistreated under British colonial rule during the 1950s Mau Mau uprising, are seeking compensation from the UK.

According to the reports, thousands of names have been submitted to the Law Society of Kenya (LSK), seeking multi-million pound compensation from the British government.

“The Law Society of Kenya has received lists of ex-Mau Mau fighters seeking compensation running into billions of shillings from the British government,” LSK chief Apollo Mboya said in a statement.

More names are expected to be submitted from the Kenya Human Rights Commission, the statement added.

There are also reports that Britain agreed on a compensation settlement totaling £14 million. Britain’s Foreign Office, however, has refused to comment on the issue.

At least 10,000 people died during the 1952-1960 Mau Mau uprising against British colonial rule, with some sources giving far higher estimates.

The British government has admitted to British forces’ torturing of detainees at the time following disclosure of a vast archive of colonial-era documents which the Foreign Office had kept secret for decades.

June 5, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

UK in damages talks with torture victims

Press TV – May 7, 2013

Britain is negotiating out-of-the-court settlements to compensate thousands of Kenyans severely mistreated under British colonial rule during the 1950s Mau Mau uprising.

According to a letter sent to lawyers representing some of the claimants, the Foreign Office has changed its mind on appealing last October’s High Court ruling that gave victims the green light to sue the government, The Guardian reported.

“The parties are currently exploring the possibility of settling the claims brought by our clients,” Dan Leader, a partner with the Leigh Day law firm told the paper.

“Clearly, given the ongoing negotiations, we can’t comment further.” He added.

The Foreign Office has refused to comment on the issue, but admitted the victims suffered “pain and grievance” during the bloody events of the Emergency period in Kenya.

Three victims won the case to sue the government at the High Court last year.

The trio’s lawyers said one of them was castrated, antoher severely tortured and the third subjected to appalling sexual abuse in detention camps during the Mau Mau rebellion.

There was also a fourth claimant Susan Ngondi who has died since legal proceedings began.

The British government has admitted to British forces’ torturing of detainees at the time following disclosure of a vast archive of colonial-era documents which the Foreign Office had kept secret for decades.

May 7, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , | Leave a comment

How Britain covered up a brutal Kenya massacre

By Will Stone | Morning Star | November 30, 2012

Never before seen files on Britain’s cruel colonial grip on Kenya have revealed a desperate attempt to cover up the massacre of unarmed prisoners during the Mau Mau uprising.

Eleven prisoners at the Hola detention camp were brutally clubbed to death and dozens more injured by prison wardens on March 3 1959 after they refused to work.

One of three elderly Kenyans, who last month won a High Court ruling to sue the British government for damages over torture, claims he was beaten unconscious during the incident.

Despite the overwhelming evidence nobody has ever been prosecuted.

Shockingly, the previously secret documents show that British colonial officials refused to identify individuals involved and attempted to blame the deaths on the prisoners “drinking too much water.”

The prison camp was one of many built during the uprising in which suspected rebels were detained by British colonial forces, often in dire conditions.

Shortly before the Hola deaths, a plan had been drawn up by colonial authorities allowing prison staff to use force to make detainees work if they refused, the Foreign Office files released by the National Ar­chives show.

Prison officer Walter Coutts told the inquest into the Hola deaths that the detainees either “willed themselves to death or had died because they drank too much water.”

But a colonial official’s assistant, Kenyan Johannes Ezekiel, said he saw camp commandant Michael Sullivan moving between groups of prison warders, and could “see perfectly well what was going on.”

Mr Ezekiel’s comments were discounted by attorney-general Eric Griffith-Jones, who was in charge of criminal prosecutions, as he was “strongly suspected” to have links with Kenyan nationalist opposition politician Tom Mboya.

After post-mortem examinations revealed the deaths were caused by violence, the commissioner of prisons, who authorised the plan to use force, claimed that he had warned there were risks.

To make matters worse the attorney-general caused uproar in Britain after announcing that no charges could be brought against any individuals.

He said in a secret letter to the Kenyan chief secretary: “No evidence was available to establish whether any, and, if so, what, injuries had been inflicted by the beating in question or on whom.”

The Hola deaths signalled the beginning of the end of Britain’s clampdown on the Mau Mau uprising as colonial authorities began to close prison camps around Kenya in the following years.

Kenya declared independence from Britain just over four years after the Hola deaths, on December 12 1963.

Separate government files, also released for the first time today, show that colonial officials in Cyprus had considered producing adventure comic books and running an essay competition in the 1950s as part of a propaganda bid to stop youngsters rebelling against British rule.

Cyprus won independence from Britain in 1960.

December 1, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Britain admits atrocities in Kenya

Press TV – July 18, 2012

Britain has admitted that Kenyan prisoners were tortured and sexually abused under the UK rule in Kenya, local media reported.

For the first time ever, British ministers were forced to issue a public confession admitting that atrocities were carried out ‘at the hands of the colonial administration’.

The admission came via a Whitehall lawyer addressing three elderly Kenyans who had gone to the High Court in London to demand damages and an apology.

Now in their 80s, one of them told the court how he had been brutally castrated in a British detention camp during the Mau Mau rebellion – Britain’s bloodiest colonial war.

If the trio win their case, it would open the door to up to 20,000 Kenyan survivors of the Mau Mau purge to sue Britain for millions of pounds, using no-win, no-fee lawyers.

The Foreign Office is contesting the case because it officially denies liability and maintains the Kenyans have left it too late to make claims.

Yesterday, each of the three claimants walked slowly to the witness stand to deliver their graphic testimony.

But before Guy Mansfield, the Foreign Office’s QC, cross-examined them, he said: “I wish to make it clear that the British government does not dispute that each of you suffered torture and other ill-treatment at the hands of the colonial administration.”

The Mau Mau uprising began in 1952 to end British colonial rule. Britain initially dismissed reports of unrest, but later declared a state of emergency – introducing the death penalty for Mau Mau members. The violence ended in 1956, but the state of emergency was only revoked in 1960.

July 18, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , | 2 Comments

UK annihilates records of colonial crimes

Press TV – April 20, 2012

Thousands of documents detailing some of the most shameful acts and crimes committed during the final years of the British empire were systematically destroyed to prevent them falling into the hands of post-independence governments, an official review has concluded.

Those papers that survived the purge were flown discreetly to Britain where they were hidden for 50 years in a secret Foreign Office archive, beyond the reach of historians and members of the public, and in breach of legal obligations for them to be transferred into the public domain.

The archive came to light last year when a group of Kenyans detained and allegedly tortured during the Mau Mau rebellion won the right to sue the British government.

The Foreign Office promised to release the 8,800 files from 37 former colonies held at the highly-secure government communications centre at Hanslope Park in Buckinghamshire.

The historian appointed to oversee the review and transfer, Tony Badger, master of Clare College, Cambridge, says the discovery of the archive put the Foreign Office in an “embarrassing, scandalous” position.

“These documents should have been in the public archives in the 1980s,” he said. “It’s long overdue.”

The papers at Hanslope Park include monthly intelligence reports on the “elimination” of the colonial authority’s enemies in 1950s Malaya; records showing ministers in London were aware of the torture and murder of Mau Mau insurgents in Kenya, including a case of aman said to have been “roasted alive”; and papers detailing the lengths to which the UK went to forcibly remove islanders from Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean.

April 20, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | Comments Off on UK annihilates records of colonial crimes