12 DECEMBER

BRITISH TROOPS MURDER 24 UNARMED CIVILIANS

12 December 1948 – British troops executed 24 unarmed men, after separating them from the women and children at a Malayan rubber plantation at Sungai Rimoh near the small town of Batang Kali. The men had been subjected to mock executions before being herded into a hut where they were shot down with automatic weapons.  After murdering the men, the soldiers then burned down the villagers’ homes.

The massacre occurred during  a “counter-insurgency” operation by a sixteen man patrol of the Scots Guards searching for communist insurgents, although in this instance not a single weapon or other evidence of insurgency had been found in the village. None of the alleged perpetrators were ever charged.

In initial reports the killings were misrepresented as soldiers having killed bandits who were trying to escape and it was also falsely claimed that weapons and explosives had been found in the village.  Shortly afterwards, however, the plantation owner testified that all the men were of good character but despite that an initial inquiry set up by Sir Stafford Foster-Sutton, Malaya’s Attorney General, informed the media that he was “absolutely satisfied a bona fide mistake had been made”.(1)

Another inquiry set up in the 1960s by Labour’s Defence Secretary Denis Healey revealed the some soldiers now admitted that they had been pressured into lying and that when they were reluctant to shoot the unarmed men they were given the option of not participating in their murder.  The investigation, however, was soon dropped in 1970 when a Conservative Government took office.

Then in 1993, the Foreign Office pressured Malaysia’s High Commissioner to halt a Malaysian police investigation into the murders. After years of subsequent activism, lobbying and legal action, the High Court in London finally ruled in 2012 that Britain was responsible for the massacre, but three years later, in 2015, Britain’s supreme court ruled that despite the evidence that it may have been a war crime, the government was not obliged to set up a public inquiry, because the killings had occurred a long time ago.(2)

UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY PASSES RESOLUTION CONDEMNING BRITAIN’S USE OF MILITARY FORCE AND TORTURE IN ADEN.

12 December 1966 – After listening to damning reports from the International Committee of the Red Cross and Amnesty International, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution (2183) expressing its opposition to Britain’s “maltreatment of political detainees and prisoners” and against its “continuation of military operations against the people of the Territory.”(3)

BAHRAIN’S DICTATOR KING WELCOMED AT DOWNING STREET

12 December 2011 – The Mafia boss of Bahrain, King Hamid bin Issa al-Khalifa was welcomed at 10 Downing Street at 12.45 pm. Prime Minister David Cameron discussed with the Bahraini tyrant how British business could best profit from both trade with his country and direct investment.

Meanwhile democracy activists in Bahrain were being subjected to disappearances, torture and show trials in what Amnesty International called a “relentless crackdown on human rights.”  However the British Foreign Secretary William Hague strongly defended the meeting on Twitter.

“Some people saying PM shouldn’t meet King of Bahrain. I disagree. Engagement isbest way to encourage reform and Bahrain is important partner.”

 

FOOTNOTES

2. https://www.theguardian.com/law/2015/nov/25/relatives-lose-fight-for-inquiry-into-1948-batang-kali-massacre

3. Aaron Edwards (2015), “Mad Mitch’s Tribal Law: Aden and the end of Empire,” Penguin, London, p 131.

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