1920-1939 | Palestine

English policeman describes extrajudicial killings in Palestine

19 December 1937 On 19 December 1937,  Constable Sydney Burr, based at Haifa in the British mandate of Palestine, wrote home to his parents describing the extrajudicial executions of Arabs suspected of participating in an insurgency against British rule. After expressing his disappointment at the ‘military courts’ which were ‘being so lenient and want too…

1940-1949 | Burning villages | Civilians slaughtered | Malaysia | Prisoners murdered

British troops murder 24 unarmed civilians in Malaya

12 December 1948 On 12 December 1948, British troops executed 24 unarmed labourers, 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 were subjected to mock executions before being herded into a hut where they were shot down with automatic…

1950-1959 | Kenya | Torture

General warns against inquiry into British crimes in Kenya

10 December 1953 On 10 December 1953, in a letter to the War Office, General George Erskine, commanding British forces in Kenya, admitted that he was aware that the police and army in the colony frequently resorted to summary executions and torture against suspect Mau Mau insurgents. ‘There is no doubt’, he confessed to Whitehall…

1920-1939 | Ireland | Torture

The mutilated corpses of two Irish nationalists found dumped in a pond

5 December 1920 On 5 December 1920, three boys discovered the mutilated bodies of two brothers, Pat and Harry Loughnane, 29 and 22 years old.  They had been tortured and killed by British auxiliary forces known as the Black and Tans, who had been deployed to crush a widespread Irish rebellion against British rule.  The…

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…

1900-1919 | Civilians slaughtered | Executions | Flogging | Martial law | Sri Lanka

Martial law in Ceylon, hundreds shot on sight, thousands arrested

2 June 1915 On 2 June 1915, Sir Robert Chalmers, the governor of Ceylon, on the pretext that ethnic rioting between Muslims and Sinhalese Buddhists had been provoked by German agents, declared martial law. There was, however, no evidence to suggest any German involvement.  Bonar Law, Secretary of State for the Colonies, admitted a month…

1800-1859 | Barbados | Battlefield butchery | Executions | Massacres | Slavery

British militia massacre hundreds of Barbadian slaves

14 April 1816 On Easter Sunday, 14 April 1816, the slaves of Barbados rose up against their British masters.   It took four days for soldiers to suppress the insurrection, which had been caused, according to one Barbados resident, because  ‘the poor deluded negroes took it into their heads that they were so far emancipated by…

Civilians slaughtered | India | Looting and plunder | Prisoners murdered

No quarter given as Redcoats sack the Indian city of Jhansi

3 April 1858 On 3 April 1858, Redcoats, under the command of General Hugh Rose, stormed the Indian city of Jhansi, where Lakshmibai, the legendary rani (queen), was leading a rebellion against British rule.  Rose later proudly acknowledged that he had avenged an earlier massacre of British officers and their families a thousand times over, a…

1900-1919 | Burning crops | Livestock targeted | Prisoners murdered

British officer – my instructions – shoot prisoners – loot the farms

26 February 1900 On 26 February 1900, the Irish nationalist MP, John Dillon, read out a letter in parliament that he had received from a British officer who was engaged in a campaign of virtual genocide against the Boer population of South Africa. ‘The orders in this district from Lord Kitchener  ( commanding British forces…

1800-1859 | Battlefield butchery | India | Prisoners murdered | Wounded killed

British officer – ‘I never saw such butchery and murder’

21 February 1849 On 21 February 1849, during the Second Anglo-Sikh War, British troops under the command of Lieutenant General Sir Hugh Gough gave no quarter to Sikh soldiers fleeing the battlefield of Gujrat. An officer of the Ninth Lancers recalled: ‘We overtook numbers of their infantry who were running for their lives – every…