1950-1959 | Civilians slaughtered | Kenya

23 NOVEMBER

‘CALCUTTA IS QUIETER’ AFTER 32 PROTESTERS ARE SHOT DEAD

[ 23 November 1945 ]

Today in 1945, Richard Casey, the governor of Bengal, called on British troops to take to the streets of Calcutta to support the police who had shot dead five student protesters earlier in the day.

THE KIRUARA MASSACRE

Alan Lennox-Boyd, Colonial Secretary (in trilby, centre), inspects members a Home Guard unit. © IWM (MAU 775) This unit is not known to have been involved at Kiruara.

On 23 November 1952, in the marketplace of the Kenyan village of Kiruara, a young man claimed to have a vision of the end of British colonial rule. His preaching had soon attracted a crowd of several hundred locals.  Several white police officers then arrived leading a unit of black policemen and loyalist ‘Home Guard’ militia.  They ordered everyone to disperse, but when the crowd stood their ground, the police and militia opened fire several times with automatic weapons, killing at least fifteen, according to official figures, and up to a hundred, according to eye witness accounts of the villagers. No police officer or member of the militia involved was ever brought to trial.1

FOOTNOTE

  1. Caroline Elkins, Britain’s Gulag: The Brutal End of Empire in Kenya, The Bodley Head, London, 2014, p. 51.  See also David Anderson, A History of the Hanged: Britain’s Dirty War in Kenya and the End of Empire, Phoenix Books, 2006, p. 70. Anderson gives a slightly different account and gives the date as 22 November.

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