21 AUGUST

LORD ELGIN’S NOTES ON “LIVING AMONG INFERIOR RACES”

[ 21 August 1857 ]

On this day in 1857 Lord Elgin makes some observations in his diary about British attitudes to Indians in the Raj –

“It is a terrible business, however, this living among inferior races… There are some three or four hundred servants in this house… One moves among them with perfect indifference, treating them not as dogs, because in that case one would whistle to them and pat them, but as machines with which one can have no communion of sympathy.”

TONY BLAIR BACKS THE U.S. ATTACK ON A SUDANESE PHARMACEUTICAL COMPANY.

[ 21 August 1998 ]

On this day in 1998, British prime minister Tony Blair gave his full backing to a U.S. cruise missile attack on the Al-Shifa pharmaceutical factory in the suburbs of Khartoum, the capital of Sudan, declaring  “I strongly support this American action against international terrorists.” The Guardian later reported that Blair’s unequivocal support was given “against the advice of appalled British diplomats.”[1]

The site was visited soon afterwards by several international journalists but no evidence could be found that any chemicals weapons had been manufactured there, as had been alleged by Washington. Nor could the many technicians and others familiar with the site recall anything sinister about the building.  Werner Daum, the German ambassador to Sudan, immediately condemned the attack, declaring that there was nothing secret about the factory and that  “one can’t, even if one wants to, describe the Shifa firm as a chemical factory.”[1]

The inevitable consequence of the strike was that hundreds, possibly thousands of Sudanese died due to a lack of essential medicines it had been producing. The facility had been one of only three pharmaceutical factories in the country and the only one producing TB medication for over 100,000 patients.[3]

FOOTNOTES

  1. James Astill, “Strike one,” The Guardian, 2 October 2001, accessed online at https://www.theguardian.com/world/2001/oct/02/afghanistan.terrorism3
  2. “The Al-Shifa Bombing, “The European Sudanese Public Affairs Council,” September 1998 accessed online at http://www.espac.org/al_shifa_pages/al-shifa_3.asp
  3. James Astill, “Strike one,” The Guardian, 2 October 2001, accessed online at https://www.theguardian.com/world/2001/oct/02/afghanistan.terrorism3

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