14 June 1953 – On 13 June, Captain Gerald S.L. Griffiths had led a company of British soldiers into the Chuka region of Kenya to flush out Kenyan Mau Mau rebels hiding in the forests.  Two Mau Mau suspects, Njeru Ndwega and Kvenji Njoka, were handed over by local police and were interrogated the next day.   When they proved unable or unwilling to inform on their comrades location, Griffiths ordered that one of Njoka’s ears be bayoneted and then threaded with a leash while Ndwega, after being threatened with castration, had his right ear amputated. Ndwega was then shot dead when he still refused to talk.  Meanwhile Njoka was left tethered by his ear, until the soldiers returned five days later. When he still refused to talk, he was also summarily shot and his body left without even any attempt at burial.(1)

Griffiths later explained in court that Njoka had been shot while attempting to escape and while he had not ordered his ear to be bayonetted, once it had been done he felt it was “proper” for a suspect Mau Mau prisoner to be led on a leash through the forest threaded through his ear. “It would not cause pain,” he argued, explaining that “these men have holes made in their ears when they are very young.”  He also insisted that he had only ever ordered a soldier to threaten Ndwega with castration, after his pants had been pulled down, but argued that a mere threat caused the prisoner “no harm”, and that the soldier had amputated the prisoner’s ear so quickly that he couldn’t stop it. (2)

Griffiths had been acquitted of murder in an earlier trial due to the supposedly insufficient evidence but he was found guilty on four charges of what the press termed “cruelty to Africans” and sentenced to five years imprisonment.(3)  His Defence Counsel had argued for mitigating circumstances, alleging that some time earlier his beloved horse had been brutally treated by Mau Mau rebels.(3)


14 June 2018 – In a closed session of the UN security council, the UK joined the United States and France in making it clear it would veto any attempt to halt the military assault on the Yemeni port of Hodeidah, launched two days earlier by the U.A.E. and Saudi Arabia.  However international humanitarian organizations warned that unless conflict was avoided, the Yemeni famine, which had already made 22 million reliant on food aid, was likely to worsen, with catastrophic consequences for the country’s population.

Meanwhile Saudi Aircraft, which are almost entirely supplied by either the United States or Britain, bombed the road linking the port with Yemen’s capital Sanaa. Conservative MP Andrew Mitchell, no radical leftist, was scathing in his criticism of Britain’s position arguing that Britain was not behaving as an honest broker at the United Nations, but siding with Saudi Arabia because of British big business interests.(4)  The historian Mark Curtis put it more bluntly, tweeting that the “UK has been apologising for mass murder in Yemen at UN for 3 years.”(5)

Critics and aid organizations will not have been encouraged by the explanation of Britain’s position by its UN ambassador Karen Pierce. She said “We make our own decisions in the security council and we make them on the basis of the British national interest including wider issues of security.”(6)

The United Nations had issued a public statement a week earlier saying that it was expecting up to 250,000 civilian fatalities if the assault was allowed to continue(7) but this appeared to weigh less than Britain’s supposed national interests which presumably have much to do with the profits of big business from friendship with the Saudi and Gulf dictatorships.



  1. David Anderson, “A Very British Massacre,” History Today – ahttps://historyslc.files.wordpress.com/2008/09/a-very-british-massacre.pdf and also http://allafrica.com/stories/200607170327.html
  2. “3 Witnesses Lied Says Griffiths,” The Daily Herald, 11 March 1954 p2
  3. “Cruelty To Africans,” The Aberdeen Evening Express,  11 March 1954, p16 and “British Captain Gets Five Years For Cruelty To Mau Mau,” Jet, The Weekly Negro News Magazine“, 25 March 1954, p12.
  4. “UN Rejects Plan to Demand Immediate Ceasefire in Yemen Port,”  The Guardian online at https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jun/15/un-rejects-plan-to-demand-immediate-ceasefire-saudi-uae-coalition-in-yemen-port
  5. https://twitter.com/markcurtis30/status/1007991827830657024
  6. Quoted in “UK Opposes Immediate Ceasefire in Yemen Port of Hodeidah as Coalition Forces Close in,” The Daily Telegraph online at https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/06/15/uk-opposes-immediate-ceasefire-yemen-port-hodeidah-un-coalition/?WT.mc_id=tmg_share_tw
  7. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jun/10/aid-groups-in-yemen-warned-attack-could-endanger-all-supplies

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