Friday, 12 July 2019

British Empire and some of its atrocities against humanity - a brief note

Map of the British Raj. commons.wikimedia.org
A new 'You Gov poll' taken in January 2016 had  found that  a large chunk of the British public were proud of their past British colonial history and  the British Empire, ie,  44 per cent, while  21 per cent very much regretted it.  The same poll came up with the conclusion that 43% of the public thought the British Empire was good, whereas 19% said it was bad and 25% of them said it was ''neither''.

 It is a known fact a preponderance of the British population both the old and younger generation have not  a clear picture of the British colonial rule  across the globe and how a small country like Britain gobbled up so much land over a period of 200 plus years on which the sun had never set. In the last several decades, many Indians as well as English Historians claim that the British school students are taught a biased  and distorted British colonial history in which their oppressive rules, massacres, atrocities on natives, racial discrimination, exploitation of lands and resources, wheeling dealing in businesses, etc  are wantonly left out. What  they are studying  is a concocted story of colonial history and its benefits to the natives. During its heyday in 1922, the British Empire, believe it or not,  was responsible for governing a fifth of the world's population and a quarter of the world's total land area; with colonies in very corner of the continents.

The proponents of Empire vociferously argue that the empire was responsible for the  various economic developments in many parts of the world it controlled. Most importantly, they introduced democratic systems in many countries.  In India, the British introduced the railways and built harbours, not for the benefits of Indian natives, but for their own benefits to move the raw materials fast from the hinterland to the harbours to be exported to English factories and to transport and distribute the finished products from England  ex, textiles to the Indians across the country. This is true of other colonies as well.    
British Enpire flag. reddit.com
Many Historians are critical of their autocratic unjust rule and the way they  handled the administration, encouraging the exploitation of Indian labor, etc. They committed mass killing and stood mute to the worst famine conditions in Bengal in the early 1940s.

The following  are  some of the atrocities committed by the British Empire:  01. Boer concentration camps:
During the Second Boer War (1899-1902), the British rounded up around a sixth of the Boer population the way the cowpokes round up the cattle on the western ranches. They detained  mainly women and children  in camps. Because of overcrowding, the people were prone to outbreaks of disease. The food ration was just minimum. .

The Second Boer War (11 October 1899 – 31 May 1902) was fought between the British Empire and two Boer states, the South African Republic (Republic of Transvaal) and the Orange Free State, over the Empire's influence in South Africa. The war lasted  for years with Boer guerrilla warfare, until harsh British counter-measures brought the Boers to terms. Of the 107,000 people interned in the camps, 27,927 Boers died, along with an unknown number of black Africans. 

02.  Jallianwala Bagh Massacre, India: 
 Gen. Dyer, butcher of Amritsar, 1919. reformation.org
The Jallianwala Bagh massacre, also known as the Amritsar massacre - the worst tragedy took place on 13 April 1919 when troops of the British Indian Army under the command of Acting Brigadier-General Reginald Dyer fired rifles into a crowd of unarmed Indian civilians who had gathered in Jallianwala Bagh, Amritsar, Punjab. The unarmed civilians had assembled for a peaceful protest to condemn the arrest and deportation of two national leaders, Satya Pal and Saifuddin Kitchlew, and to honour the Sikh festival of Baisakhi. The firing was done without any warning whatsoever.

 Dyer had the main entrance behind them in the bagh blocked, His soldiers took up position on a raised bank, and on Dyer's orders opened fire on the  fleeing crowd for about ten minutes. They kept firing  towards the few open gates through which people were trying to flee, until the ammunition supply was almost exhausted. The following day Dyer stated in a Report to the General Officer Commanding that "I hear that between 200 and 300 of the crowd were killed. My party fired 1,650 rounds.", a number apparently derived by counting empty cartridge cases picked up by the troops afterwards. The actual unofficial figure was more than 1000 and several hundreds severely injured. No first aid  and no  ambulance services available. Countless men, women and children bled to death without any medical help. It was the darkest day in British history. 

03. Partition of India: 

Indian subcontinent. origins.osu.edu
 It was the Britisher's  divide and rule led to the partition of India. India's freedom was already delayed by Winston Churchill who wanted to keep India at any cost because the subcontinent happened to be Britain's cash cow. The conservative British politicians understood the weakness of Jinnah and indirectly instigated the Muslims to demand a separate land for them. Jinnah became a sucker and fell into the trap. 

In 1947, Cyril Radcliffe was entrusted with the job of drawing the border between India and the newly created state of Pakistan over a short time.  Cyril Radcliffe, without using discretion and common sense  divided the subcontinent along religious lines, and this caused the  uprooting of over 10 million people,  Hindus in Pakistan and Muslims in India were forced to leave their homes. It was a mass exodus - cross border trans-migration of people and majority of the families became helpless and penniless to start a new life afresh in a new home. The frustrations, resentment and hatred boiled down to violence, mayhem and killings. Some estimates suggest up to one million people lost their lives in sectarian killings. The British government did not plan it properly as they were in a hurry to leave India. On top of it the Indian govt. treasury had barely the minimum. There was money to sustain for some months.   
04.  Mau Mau Uprising, Kenya:
Brtish colony, Kenya. sahistory.org.za
When the British occupied Kenya, they had let lose atrocities on the natives. Members of the Kikuyu tribe were ill-treated and detained in camps, Described as "Britain's gulags" or concentration camps, here they  were, without remorse, tortured and suffered serious sexual assault.   In the aftermath, there was a big casualty; eestimates of the deaths vary widely:  According to historian David Anderson  20,000 people died, whereas Caroline Elkins believes the total death may be up to 100,000. Thousands of elderly Kenyans, who claim British colonial forces mistreated, raped and tortured them during the Mau Mau Uprising (1951-1960), have filed  a £200m damages claim  suit against the UK Government.  .
05. Bengal Famine, India


Before partition, Bengal, India en.wikipedia.org
The Bengal famine of 1943  was a major natural calamity that happened in  the Bengal province in British India during World War II.  It is widely believed that an estimated 2.1 to 3 million, out of a population of 60.3 million, died  mainly due to  starvation, malaria and other diseases aggravated by  such factors as malnutrition, , unsanitary conditions and lack of health care.  A crisis situation developed as millions  became emaciated and  impoverished leading to a big impact on the economy  and social life of the people. According to countless  Historians, this calamity and its impact on the population could have been reduced considerably had the British Indian govt.  taken the action at the right time. This famine is often tagged as  as "man-made"  because  the wartime colonial policies aggravated the worst situation on the food front.   A minority view that  the famine arose from natural causes is true, but it became a crisis because of wanton negligence on the part of the conservative government in Britain led by India- baiter and hard core racist Winston Churchill who refused to unload the food grain from the Australian ships (laden with  countless tons of wheat) docked at Calcutta and asked the captain move on to Europe to supplement the buffer stock meant for war contingency. 

When honest British officials pleaded Churchill to redress the famine situation, he peevishly wrote on the margin of the file sent to Delhi. Had Gandhi not died yet?  When India was reeling under the worst famine, Churchill was particular about storing food grains for future war purposes. 
Talking about the Bengal famine in 1943, Churchill said: “I hate Indians. They are a beastly people with a beastly religion. The famine was their own fault for breeding like rabbits''.
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2007/aug/24/india.randeepramesh