It was the largest empire ever to have existed. And as the saying used to go, the sun never sets on the British Empire. At its height in 1922, the colonial power was lording it over a fifth of the world’s population and for many of them, the sun never rose again.
Under the policies of British colonialism, people around the globe were subjected to mass famines, atrocious conditions in concentration camps, and brutal massacres at the hands of imperialist troops. The Brits also played an integral role in the transatlantic slave trade.
Although the atrocities of the British Empire are well documented, the myth of the noble colonising power continued into recent decades.
The Migrated Archives
During proceedings in the British High Court in 2010, University of Warwick historian David M Anderson submitted a statement referring to 1,500 files that went missing from Kenya as British rule in the region was coming to an end.
This led the British government to concede that they had hidden or disposed of those files, and many others at a high-security facility north of London. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office was hiding around 600,000 historical documents in breach of the 1958 UK Public Records Act.
The stash included around 20,000 undisclosed files from 37 former British colonies. Indeed, it’s common knowledge that as the British colonial edifice was disintegrating, administrators of the colonies were told to either burn their documents or try and smuggle them out.
The legal proceedings where Mr Anderson made his revelations related to a case brought against the British government by three elderly Kenyans who claimed they’d been tortured and abused by the colonial authorities during the British occupation of their country.
The British gulag in Kenya
The British first moved into East Africa in the late 19th century, and Kenya was declared a Crown colony in 1920. In the 1940s, after half a century of British occupation, a small group of Kikuyu people – the country’s largest ethnic group – formed the Mau Mau movement and vowed to oppose colonial rule.
As word spread, Mau Mau resistance grew and they began knocking off colonial officers and local loyalists. In October 1952, Governor Evelyn Baring declared a state of emergency, which held until 1960.
In 1964, the colonial army began erecting a network of concentration camps. Historians estimate that 150,000 to 1.5 million Kikuyu people were detained. Conditions within the camps were atrocious, and people were systematically beaten and sexually assaulted during questioning.
The grandfather of Barack Obama, Hussein Onyango Obama suffered severe mistreatment in the camp where he was held, which included having pins forced under his fingernails.
The British government, after being continually defeated in the High Court, agreed to settle the Mau Mau case in 2013.
On June 6 that year, then UK foreign secretary William Hague announced 5,000 survivors would each receive £3,800 payment, and he also expressed the nation’s sincere regrets to Kenyans who were subjected to “torture and other forms of ill-treatment at the hands of the colonial administration.”
The desecration in India
It’s said that India was the jewel in the crown of the British Empire. The British East India Company began making avenues into the subcontinent in the 17th century, and India was established as a Crown colony in 1858.
The British Raj systematically transferred the wealth of the region into their own coffers. In the north eastern region of Bengal, “the first great deindustrialisation of the modern world” occurred.
The prosperous two centuries-old weaving industry was shut down after the British flooded the local market with cheap fabric from northern England. India still grew the cotton, but the Bengali population no longer spun it, and the weavers became beggars.
India suffered around a dozen major famines under British rule, with an estimated 12 to 29 million Indians starving to death.
The Orissa famine occurred in north eastern India in 1866. Over one million – or one in three local people – perished. As the region’s textile industry was destroyed, more people were pushed into agriculture, and were dependent on the monsoon.
That year, the monsoon was weak. Crops didn’t grow and many starved to death. The colonial administration didn’t intervene as the popular economic theory of the time reasoned that the market would restore proper balance, and the famine was nature’s way of responding to overpopulation.
When the British finally got out of India, they simply drew a line down the map and partitioned the subcontinent into India and Pakistan. The move led to the mass migration of around 10 million people, and when it escalated into sectarian violence an estimated one million lost their lives.
A southern invasion
The British began invading Australia in 1788, under the pretext that it was terra nullis: a land with no owners. The High Court of Australia abolished the legal fiction of terra nullius in its 1992 Mabo versus Queensland (No 2) ruling.
It was a landmark decision, but not everyone was surprised that the court found that there were actually sovereign people living on the land prior to the arrival of the British. At that time, there were an estimated 750,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living across the continent.
The First Fleet arrived in the vicinity of what is now the city of Sydney in 1788. Around 15 months later, at least 50 percent of the local Aboriginal population was dying due to a smallpox epidemic.
Some historians put the outbreak down to contact with the Macassans from Sulawesi in the far north of the continent. However, others argue that bottles of smallpox were brought across on First Fleet ships, and the disease was then released, either accidentally or with clear intent.
Dozens of massacres of Indigenous people were carried out by the British right up until the 1920s. On June 10 1838, the Myall Creek massacre occurred near Inverell in NSW. This tragedy is well-known as it was the first time Europeans were brought to justice for such an atrocity in Australia.
At the time about 50 Aboriginal men were working for stockmen in the area. One evening the stockmen rode into the local people’s camp, tied up 29 men, women and children, and beheaded them. Seven of the perpetrators were eventually brought to trial and hanged.
Today, in Australia, the colonial legacy continues. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are the most incarcerated population on earth.
As of March this year, there were 11,288 Indigenous adults detained in the Australian prison system. First Nations peoples account for only 2.5 percent of the overall Australian adult population, yet they represent 28 percent of the adult prisoner population.
A bloody trail
But these are only some of the crimes perpetrated by the British as they carried the greatest land grab the world has ever seen.
There were the concentration camps in South Africa, where tens of thousands of the Boer population were detained in the first years of the 20th century. The Irish potato famine occurred in the 1840s, leading to the deaths of well over a million people.
There were the torture centres in Aden in the 1960s, where nationalists were kept naked in refrigerated cells. When the Empire was facing communist insurgents during the Malaya Emergency of the 1950s, they simply decided to imprison the entire peasant population in detention camps.
And the list goes on…
Originally published on 2017-06-02
About the author: Paul Gregoire is a Sydney-based journalist and writer. He has a focus on civil rights, drug law reform, gender and Indigenous issues. Along with Sydney Criminal Lawyers, he writes for VICE and is the former news editor at Sydney’s City Hub.
Source: Sydney Criminal Lawyers
Origins of immages: Facebook, Twitter, Wikimedia, Wikipedia, Flickr, Google, Imageinjection & Pinterest.
Read our Disclaimer/Legal Statement!
Donate to Support Us
We would like to ask you to consider a small donation to help our team keep working. We accept no advertising and rely only on you, our readers, to keep us digging the truth on history, global politics and international relations.
World leaders gathered in Paris on Sunday under the Arc de Triomphe to mark the centennial anniversary ending World War I. In an absurd way, the Napoleon-era arc was a fitting venue – because the ceremony and the rhetoric from President Emmanuel Macron was a “triumph” of lies and platitudes.
Among the estimated 70 international leaders were US President Trump and Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, each sitting on either side of Macron and his wife. German Chancellor Angela Merkel was also given pride of place beside the French president.
Macron’s address to the dignitaries was supposed to be a call for international ...
Over the past 15 years, fighting-talk has periodically flared over ‘what to do about that alleged “crazy Asian dictator” in North Korea. Today’s round of brinkmanship by the US/Western ‘deep state’ against North Korea will – in all probability – unfold the same way as in previous episodes; it will fizzle out. China is a guarantor of North Korean security, so the US will not go to war with North Korea. Period.
The battle between Trump and the Washington Crazies for control of the reins of empire continues, however, and the ‘Krazy Korean’ is relevant to that. I hope ...
The full extent of the damage to international peace and security caused by the US-led Syrian strikes will take some time to become clear. But its impact on the very concept of legality in international affairs is already evident.
Simply put, the most powerful county in the world and its chief satellites, the UK and France, have thrown the rule of law into the trash can. The only "law" now is the law of the jungle. There is no going back.
Ironically, the attack itself was claimed by its perpetrators as enforcement of legality, not of its obliteration. For example, NATO Secretary-General ...
What is the European UnionIn Europe, regionalization after WWII is taking the form of a gradual process of integration that was leading to the creation of the European Union (the EU) which is a collaborative association of some of the European states previously known as several different communities. Since agreeing at a summit meeting in December 1991 in the city of Maastricht in the Netherlands to move beyond a custom union and common market towards full economic and monetary union (up to that time the EU was similar to the European Free Trade Association – the EFTA), the association of ...
Canada has a reputation for being a relatively progressive state with universal, single-payer health care, various other social benefits, and strict gun laws, similar to many European countries but quite unlike the United States. It has managed to stay out of some American wars, for example, Vietnam and Iraq, portrayed itself as a neutral “peace keeper”, pursuing a so-called policy of “multilateralism” and attempting from time to time to keep a little independent distance from the United States.Behind this veneer of respectability lies a not so attractive reality of elite inattention to the defence of Canadian independence from the United ...
1917 was not a good year for any of the belligerent countries, but for the members of the Entente – France, Britain, and Russia – it was nothing less than catastrophic. The main reasons for that were the mutinies in the French army, which made the situation on the western front extremely precarious, as well as the revolution in Russia, which raised the spectre of Russia exiting the war, leaving Britain and France bereft of the ally that forced Germany to fight on two fronts. Add to this the fact that civilians as well as soldiers in France and Britain ...
The corporate media presents Russia as militaristic but ignores Canada’s invasion of that country.
100 years ago today a popular revolt ousted the Russian monarchy. Enraged at Nicholas II’s brutality and the horror of World War I, protests and strikes swept the capital of Petrograd (Saint Petersburg). Within a week the czar abdicated. Later in the year the Bolsheviks rose to power in large part by committing to withdraw from the war.
The English, French and US responded to the Bolshevik’s rise by supporting the Russian monarchists (the whites) in their fight to maintain power. Six thousand Canadian troops also invaded. According ...
More than six decades after Berlin’s capitulation which capped World War II, the war is still raging, now in the form of revisionist attempts to cast a shadow over the memory of Soviet soldiers who fought in it. Among other things, the efforts aimed at equating fascism – a monster nurtured by the West in the 1930s-1940s – and Russia’s XX century wartime past are supposed to divert attention from the continuity between the Anglo-Saxon imperialism and the German national socialism. The nature and key traits of the continuity are exposed in “From Imperialism to Fascism: Why Hitlers’ India was ...
Sunday January 24th 2016 marks the anniversary of the death of one of the most lionized leaders in the Western world: Sir Winston Churchill.
The current British Prime Minister, David Cameron, has called Churchill “the greatest ever Prime Minister”, and Britons have recently voted him as the greatest Briton to have ever lived.
The story that British schoolbooks tell children about Churchill is of a British Bulldog, with unprecedented moral bravery and patriotism. He, who defeated the Nazis during World War II and spread civilisation to indigenous people from all corners of the globe. Historically, nothing could be further from the truth.
Unification of Europe has brought about radical new divisions within Europe. The most significant split is between the people and their political leaders.The June 23 British majority vote to leave the European Union has made strikingly evident the division between the new ruling class that flourishes in the globalized world without borders and all the others who are on the receiving end of policies that destroy jobs, cut social benefits, lower wages and reject as obsolete national customs, not least the custom of democratic choice, all to make the world safe for international investment capital.Actually, the lines are not quite ...
IntroductionThe goals of this article are: 1) to investigate the role of the revived Patriarchate of Peć in Serbian and Balkan history?; and 2) to explore and present the results of investigation of the problems with respect to: a) the role of the Serbian Church during the first decades of the Ottoman occupation of Serbian lands in the process of the creation of a Serbian national identity; b) Serbian-Turkish relations in the second half of the 16th century; and c) the reasons for Serbian disloyalty towards the Ottoman government at the turn of the 17th century.The article addresses the reasons ...
In British mainstream commentary, the 1999 NATO bombing campaign against Slobodan Milosevic’s Yugoslavia is seen as a ‘humanitarian intervention’. Tony Blair still receives much praise for coming to the defence of the ethnic Albanians in Kosovo, whose plight was surely serious as they were subject to increasingly brutal abuses by the Yugoslav army towards the end of 1998 and early 1999. Yet the NATO bombing that began in March 1999 had the effect of deepening, not preventing, the humanitarian disaster that Milosevic’s forces inflicted on Kosovo. The bulk of the atrocities committed by Yugoslav forces took place after the NATO ...
The anti Serbian hysteria, ignorance, corrupted officials, media and public is something the British have to take consequences for. The consequences are: blooming criminal, narco business, robberies, theft, prostitution, kidnappings, radicalism, terrorism and other criminal officially supported (and) by Great Britain activities. But only while on Serbian soil. The Serbs were not allowed to defend their state form the criminals; there were NATO bombs to support Neonazi regime(s) in Croatia, radical Islamists in Bosnia and Islamofascists Albanian quasi state Kosovo, built on drug trade, prostitution and Serbian harvested organs.
Since Albanians were not happy with ‘Kosovo’ state anymore, and after they ...
Never mind the slow but steady dismantling in the fabled West of the “welfare state”, that temporary horror the elites grudgingly used to tolerate. But that was only as a means of pacifying their subjects and winning over credulous hearts and minds in the competing socialist camp, while it still existed. To be fair, concern for public wellbeing never was an ideological item in the Western “value” system to begin with. It was dissimulated for a while merely as a tactical measure to confuse the masses. But one assumes that at least the various personal “freedoms” that Western countries used ...
Anthony Charles Lynton Blair currently back in Britain, cast a dark shadow over those campaigning to stay in the European Union in the 23rd June referendum. Inflicting himself on the Britain Stronger in Europe group, he spoke at every opportunity – reminding even the most passionate Europhile of the last time he assured: “I know I’m right” – Iraq.
If the “Remainers” had an ounce of sense Blair should have been ditched in a nano-second. He is not “Toxic Tony” for nothing.
However, since the long awaited Chilcot Inquiry in to the Iraq invasion is to be published just thirteen days after ...
President Donald Trump appears sui generis. Other troublesome populists, like Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines, hold power. But no other nation of great influence is governed by someone so little rooted in reality and so much dominated by personality.
However, the president has a historical soul mate who ruled a century ago. The similarities are striking, though their lives obviously differed in important ways. One wonders: was the German Empire’s Kaiser Wilhelm II reincarnated as President Trump?
Wilhelm II was born in 1859 in the house of Hohenzollern. A grandson of British queen Alexandrina Victoria, he grew up in a life of wealth ...
PrefaceThe article deals with relations between on the one hand the supporters of pan-European identity, which has to take the place of the particular national ones, and on the other hand the proponents of maintaining specific national identities as the top priority within the European Union (the EU). Certainly, the European Union continues to expand its borders, individual national currencies are becoming unified into the common EU currency - Euro (€), and the political and economic climates are gravitating towards pan-continental unification. However, what does this unification process mean in terms of identity? The crucial question is: Will the success ...
State frontiers are established by human beings
and may be changed by human beings.
Adolf Hitler. Mein Kampf
Diplomacy, with all the conventions of its forms,
recognizes only real facts.
Charles de Gaulle
All of Adolf Hitler’s actions, from the time he rose to power in 1933 until 1939, could be described as one triumph after another. He met each challenge he faced: he took over as head of the country, returned Germany’s lost territories without a struggle, and was given permission from England and France to rearm. But one further task lay before him, and failure now would make his previous achievements almost pointless. ...
Syria is being bombed as part of a “counter-terrorism campaign” allegedly against the Islamic State, an elusive “outside enemy” based in Raqqa, Northern Syria.
While the ISIL is said to be “threatening the Western World”, the evidence confirms that the Islamic State is supported and financed by the Western military alliance, together with Turkey, Israel, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states. Amply documented, Al Qaeda and its various affiliates including the Islamic State Caliphate Project are creations of Western intelligence.
Moreover, whatever the justification, the bombing of a sovereign country is an illegal and criminal act under international law. It constitutes a war of ...
Bosnia and Kosovo are two of the biggest exporters of jihadists joining the Islamic State (ISIS) and al-Nusra Front (al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria) from the Balkans. As The Cipher Brief reported last month, legacies of the Communist era and the wars of the 1990s – presence of foreign fighters, economic and physical destruction, a lack of funding to rebuild, and the near eradication of moderate Islamic institutions – paved the way for Islamic extremist groups to establish a foothold in both countries. Now, ISIS recruiters are targeting Bosnia and Kosovo, and many Bosnians and Kosovars have left to fight in Syria and ...
World War I Homage – A Triumph of Lies and Platitudes
How the US Empire Was Made in North Korea
Syrian Strikes are ‘Legal’ – But Only According to the ‘Law of the Jungle’
The European Union and the Euroscepticism
Why Canada Defends EuroUkrainian Fascism?
One Hundred Years Ago, in the Spring of 1917: Why Did America Go to War in 1917?
When Canada Invaded Russia
Anglo-Saxon Roots of German Nazism
Winston Churchill: Britain’s “Greatest Briton” Left а Legacy оf Global Conflict аnd Crimes Against Humanity
European Unification Divides Europeans: How Forcing People Together Tears Them Apart
Serbian Patriarchate of Peć in the Ottoman Empire: The First Phase (1557−1594)
Britain’s Collaboration with pro-Jihadist Forces in Kosovo
Albanian Organized Crime in UK and Mainstream Media
Canadian ‘Srebrenica Genocide Denial Law’: When Even the Truth is no Defense
From Iraq to the Brexit Referendum: Tony Blair’s Toxic Legacy
What Trump Has in Common with the Last German Emperor
The European Union and Common Pan-European Identity
Why London Presented Hitler with Vienna and Prague?
The Criminalization of Parliamentary Democracy
Exporting Jihad: Bosnia and Kosovo