Irish Blog Whacked

Monday, May 13, 2013


Rule Britannia For Global Crimes

By Finian Cunningham
May 12, 2013 "Information Clearing House" - It’s an anthem that is usually sung with chest-thumping pride and misty eyes by British imperialists. “Rule Britannia, Britannia rules the waves”. This jingoistic celebration of Britain’s former global conquest may yet degenerate into “Rue Britannia, Britannia rues the waves”.
This is because, as The Guardian newspaper reports this week, the London government has at long last been forced into recognizing compensation payments for as many as 50,000 Kenyan nationals who were victims of torture and other crimes against humanity during that country’s independence struggle in the 1950s. The eventual bill for compensation could run up to tens of millions of pounds.

But the bad news for financially bankrupt Britain does not end there. With this precedent established of compensation for past British imperialist crimes, that now leaves the way open for a global flood of similar claims.

Jingoistic British imperialists may therefore soon rue their often-made reference to Britain ruling the waves and so many countries the world over - at the height of the British Empire some 20 percent of the globe’s land mass was under colonial domination. That’s a lot of people who can claim recompense for past British horrors and deprivation.
If the bill for Britain’s crimes against humanity in Kenya alone runs into tens of millions of pounds, then we can easily multiply that sum manifold if the millions of other victims from across the world who suffered under the British jackboot come forward to claim justice.
The Guardian listed just a handful of additional class-action cases for compensation against the British government. They included the former colonies of Cyprus, Yemen, Swaziland and British Guiana. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg when measuring Britain’s global legacy of crimes and human suffering. Many others would include Britain’s dirty wars and repressive colonial regimes in Bahrain, British Somaliland, Burma, Ghana, Nigeria, Northern Ireland, Oman and Zimbabwe. Even that list is far from complete.

Iran presents a challenging case too. After the British-assisted coup in 1953 that led to the 26-year reign of terror under Shah Pahlavi, tens of thousands of Iranians were subjected to torture by the Western-trained and armed Savak secret police. Iranians therefore have a case for compensation against the British government.

Previously, the British House of Lords decreed arbitrarily that no cases for compensation stemming from before 1954 can be brought to an English court. Fortunately for the British establishment, that ruling excludes millions of more potential litigants from former British India, which gained independence in 1947.

Given the appalling suffering inflicted by the British overlords in India - from starvation, massacres, mass imprisonment and destruction of farming and textile livelihoods to give British exporters a competitive advantage - the resulting claims if filed to the Exchequer would definitely spell good night for Britain’s sputtering economy. Far from ruling the waves, Britannia would sink to a watery grave.
But the real point perhaps is more about principle than money - important though material redress is to victims of injustice. What the case of the Kenyans against the British government is really achieving is to strip bare the truth about Britain’s imperial legacy. British national conceit and history books are replete with double standards and moral relativism. It is too widely and fatuously assumed that Britain’s Empire represented somehow a benevolent contribution to history. British people, and unfortunately English-language academia and media across the world, tend to perceive Britain’s “decolonization” - its retreat from imperial territories - as a magnanimous gesture of granting independence. This delusional notion is best summed up in the Orwellian term “the British Commonwealth of nations”.
With conceited moral duplicity, Britain insists that Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany must pay out compensation to victims of their conquests. But no such obligation pertains to Britain, according to the British rulers. Why not? Only imperial arrogance and a certain sense of victor’s justice stemming from the Second World War are invoked to subjectively justify that contradiction. In the world of objective facts and evidence, Britain is equally liable for redress to its global victims of crimes against humanity.

When Britain set out to destroy the Mau Mau struggle for Kenya’s political independence during the 1950s, the British were not interested in benign, passive “decolonization”. For the British rulers, it was a life-or-death challenge to the entire global system of British Empire and its exploitative excrescence on the world. The same British “siege mentality” manifested ruthlessly against the independence movements in all its colonies.

Up to 300,000 Kenyans were incarcerated in concentration camps during what the British euphemistically called “The Emergency”. That same quaint word - “Emergency” - was used by the British to dissemble their barbarism and brutality in Burma against pro-independence communist guerrilla. During Bahrain and Northern Ireland’s struggle for freedom from Britain’s unlawful dominance, the preferred euphemism for repression was “The Troubles”.

But these semantics aside, the nature of repression meted out by British rulers and their officers was systematically criminal and brutal and comparable to the worst genocidal regimes the world has known.

The Kenyan Mau Mau may have suffered the most, probably owing to a twist of racist depravity among the white British counterinsurgency practitioners. Kenyan prisoners were castrated and roasted over fires by British officers using methods of torture that even classified British records explicitly sanctioned as “Gestapo techniques”.
During the British suppression of the Cypriot insurgency during the 1950s, inmates were routinely tortured by water-boarding sessions in which Kerosene was added to the drowning water. Later, during the 1970s in Northern Ireland’s conflict, Irish prisoners were incarcerated without charge and tortured by hooding, prolonged wall-standing, sleep deprivation, white noise and intimidation with guard dogs, not to mention routine physical beatings.
If such torture and generally repressive regimens sound similar to what has since been uncovered in Afghanistan, Iraq and Guantanamo Bay it is because they are wholly consistent. These are the standard operating practices of British military doctrine and that of its close American ally.

The reason why such barbarity continues to be practiced is because of the moral duplicity and propagandized version of history that the Western media and academia instill. Barbarity is something that others perpetrate, not us.

The glacial pace of justice - as shown by the more than six decades’ delay for the Mau Mau victims of British crimes - is reflective of the massive public deception instilled by Western media on behalf of their criminal governments.

However, thanks to the courageous pursuit of justice by many people across the world, this edifice of deception will eventually be broken down. This is imperative as a matter of justice for the millions of victims of British crimes against humanity.

But, in addition, the exposure of British criminality is crucial to deleting the duplicity that serves to give contemporary British and other Western governments a veneer of legitimacy. Britain has no right to pontificate and brow beat Syria, Iran or any other nation about “international obligations”. With the full record of British criminality on display, this is a country that, far from lecturing others, should be made to hang its head in shame and remain silent.
Finian Cunningham, is a prominent expert in international affairs. The author and media commentator was expelled from Bahrain in June 2011 for his critical journalism in which he highlighted human rights violations by the Western-backed regime. He is a Master’s graduate in Agricultural Chemistry and worked as a scientific editor for the Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, England, before pursuing a career in journalism. He is now based in East Africa where he is writing a book on Bahrain and the Arab Spring. He co-hosts a weekly current affairs programme, Sunday at 3pm GMT on Bandung Radio

Comments (9

DrS's avatar
DrS· 11 hours ago
Many now will seek compensation from the colonial powers.

It will bankrupt many and will ensure there is no recovery.

Could things be any more bleak than that?

It is understandable why many non-Westerners want justice.
Can you blame them!?
Basic James Rabbit's avatar
Basic James Rabbit· 11 hours ago
The anthem continues: "Britons never, never, never shall be slaves." But it is obviously untrue. "Anyone will tell you it's a prison island, hidden in a cloud for 10,000 years."

Jigsaw's avatar
Jigsaw· 11 hours ago
Good article The British Empire was monstrous in it's disregard for the living conditions of most of it's unwilling 'subjects' throughout the world. It was not unique in that as far as empires go but because they controlled the fate of more people so the number of casualties was much greater. One thing perhaps nearly unique about the Brit empire was it's love of settler colonialism, they wanted to eventually transform entirely - new landmasses they claimed... through eradicating the natives and importing white people to create a new nation on the old... They were the most successful in history at doing this - the scarce, marginalised populations of native peoples in N America and Australia are a testament to this.

Be thankful they do not 'rule the waves' today as they used to, bad as the yanks are at least there are still Vietnamese people abundant in Vietnam and plenty of Iraqis living a (mostly) unchanged Iraqi way of life today... Although you see in some actions like Starvation sanctions (so beloved of 'liberals') a whiff of the old British Imperial indifference to mass civilian suffering.
Ipse_Dixit's avatar
Ipse_Dixit· 1 hour ago
The Spanish and Portuguese did similar things in Latin America. And in fairness it was the United States that committed genocide rather than Britain.
Don't forget the indigenous peoples such a Australian Aborigines and Canadian Indians and Inuits.

Overall more than 90% of the earth felt the lash of the British Empire including Britain itself.

The English ruling class today are the direct descendants of the Normans who conquered England in 1066. As Vikings (recently arrived in NW France from Scandinavia) they had no empathy with their newly defeated Germanic Anglo-Saxon peasants. Like other ethnic in-groups (Israel?) they emotionally distanced themselves from the majority of their fellows. This led them to readily extend this attitude to foreign lands when they created the British Empire.
Sadly, some of their direct descendants also formed the US elite who have continued this imperial nightmare.
No JO Jo's avatar
No JO Jo· 9 hours ago
Nazi Germany must pay out --Wrong! England and gang brother France declared war on Germany 1938 and fire bombed several German cities. Why? Because Germany invaded Poland. Germany had a good right to do it--Polish Jews were being abused and Unlce USA Scam was funding the Nazi government to send Polish Jews into Palestine--record 175,000. And what was Eng's terror business to go after Germany? Same as USA--get control of all of Europe. It did work-NATO and millions more Jews to Palestine
ian's avatar
ian· 9 hours ago
then the people can after the french for their atrocities in northern africa and while they consider that go after the italians for their brutal treatment of the libyians but tell me how can you get anyone in the US to front any tribunal when they don't recognise any international laws
BP Storm's avatar
BP Storm· 8 hours ago
The British have invaded all but 20 or so nations on Earth. That says something right there. Just ask a native Tasmainian what they think of Britain. That's a joke son, you can't ask a native Tasmainian what they think of Britain, because Britain killed them all. Marched women and children(not to mention the men) over cliffs into the Sea. The Brits will tell you that they are civilized though. Not really though, England is not Civilized. The English are just a bunch of Dandies. Like that Prime Minister they have now. The Irish called the Union Jack(and still do to this day) the Butcher's Apron. They have invaded Afghanistan at least 5 times since 1839. And they have gotten their butts kicked out everytime. They pulled out a few weeks ago leaving The Americans and NATO holding the bag, because they know what Afghanistan becomes when conquerers begin to loose power, as will happen as the US pulls out. Prince Harry in his brilliance called the Afghans a bunch of Towel Heads a few years ago, easy to see the racism involved. The only important thing to ever come out of Britain were some Rock'n'Roll bands. Everything else was crime laden.