Letter: Britain's colonial war crimes

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The Independent Online
THERE may indeed be collective amnesia in the Netherlands about colonial war crimes ('Colonial atrocities explode myth of Dutch tolerance', 29 May), but it can hardly be said that the situation here is any better.

During the Kenyan Emergency of 1952-55, more than 1,000 rebels were hanged by the British authorities, while over 400 men were shot dead while 'trying to escape' in one six- month period alone. Over a million people were compulsorily moved from their homes into British-controlled villages.

There were similar scenes during the Malayan Emergency (1948-60). As many as 34,000 people were interned without trial, and 650,000 people were forcibly moved to villages enclosed by barbed wire. In the worst-known single attrocity, 24 Chinese civilians were killed by a British patrol in the Batang Kali massacre in December 1949.

In more recent times we could cite the shooting dead of 14 unarmed demonstrators by the Parachute Regiment in Derry on ''Bloody Sunday' in 1972, for which nobody has been prosecuted. There has been little discussion in Britain about these and other episodes. It is surely time that the darker side of British military history was subjected to a closer scrutiny.

Neil Barnet

London SE24

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