1970-1979 | Northern Ireland | Torture

Routine use of torture in Ulster exposed

17 October 1971 On 17 October 1971, the Sunday Times published a front page article entitled ‘How Ulster Internees are Made to Talk,’ in which former detainee Pat Shivers recounted how, over a period of several days, he was hooded and forced into agonizing stress positions and fell unconscious repeatedly.  The Ministry of Defence immediately held a…

1960-1969 | Martial law | Torture | Yemen

Britain suspends the Aden constitution and imposes direct rule

25 September 1965 On 25 September 1965, the British government suspended the constitution in its colony of  Aden, officially known as the South Arabian Federation. All governing powers were placed in the hands of Sir Richard Turnbull, the high commissioner. The state legislature was dismissed and a dusk to dawn curfew imposed.1 A Downing Street…

2000-2009 | Iraq | Torture

Iraqi hotel receptionist tortured to death by British troops in Basra

15 September 2003 On 15 September 2003, Baha Mousa, a hotel receptionist, was kicked, beaten and tortured to death by British troops in the Iraqi city of Basra.  He was one of a group of ten innocent civilians, who were subjected to appalling brutality. Their agony was witnessed by other soldiers, a medic, officers and…

1920-1939 | Burning villages | Civilians slaughtered | Flogging | Massacres | Palestine | Torture

20 Arabs killed when British troops force a bus to drive over a mine

7 September 1938 Shortly before the dawn on the morning of 7 September 1938, a company of the Royal Ulster Rifles (RUR), backed by several Rolls Royce armoured cars belonging to the 11th Hussars, surrounded the Palestinian village of al-Bassa, a large settlement of about two thousand Christian and Muslim Arabs located near the Lebanese…

1970-1979 | Detention without trial | Northern Ireland | Torture

Army arrests hundreds of catholics under ‘internment without trial’ powers

9 August 1971 On 9 August 1971, hundreds of British soldiers were deployed across Northern Ireland to arrest 342 Catholics and two protestants with suspected Republican sympathies under new powers of ‘internment without trial.’1 They kicked down doors and dragged men of all ages from their beds. Only Catholic areas were targeted. The British government saw…

1960-1969 | Detention without trial | Torture | Yemen

A Yemeni civil servant’s brief encounter with Britain’s Guantanamo

6 July 1966 At about 2 am on 6 July 1966, Hashim Jawee, a 22 year old Yemeni civil servant, was woken to the sound of his door being kicked in. He was taken away by British soldiers to an interrogation centre at Fort Morbut.  On arrival his senses would have been overwhelmed by the…

1950-1959 | Concentration camps | Detention without trial | Kenya | Torture

Colonial detention camps in Kenya worse than Japanese POW camps

16 June 1959 Today in 1959, the Labour MP Barbara Castle read out a letter in parliament she had received from the former assistant commissioner of police in Kenya, Duncan MacPherson. He had attempted to clear up some of the human rights abuses committed by colonial police and prison guards ‘until in despair, disgust and…

2010-2019 | Torture

UN expert – the UK has subjected Assange to ‘psychological torture’

31 May 2019 On 31 May 1919, Nils Melzer, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, accused Britain and the United States of subjecting Wikileaks founder Julian Assange to ‘psychological torture’ over a prolonged period. He added that ‘It was obvious that Mr Assange’s health has been seriously affected by the extremely hostile and arbitrary environment…

1500-1799 | Jamaica | Slavery | Torture

Slave overseer’s diary notes on a summer of depraved torture

26 May 1756 On 26 May 1756 in Jamaica, plantation overseer Thomas Thistlewood, who was unusual in keeping meticulous notes on the punishments he meted out to the slaves under his care, noted in his diary the depraved punishment given to a hungry slave, Derby, who was seen eating sugar cane.  Thistlewood ordered that he…