Saturday, June 8, 2013

News and Issues 6 8 2013

News and Issues 6 8 2013


From the Eagle Watch
June 8, 2013

While our history, culture and issues are very different from those of African people in Africa, British imperialism is the common factor. As we continue to state, there is no justice for Indigenous or peasants anywhere under a judicial system created by and for the British Empire.

We must add here that this imperialism is not a thing of the past as some think. It is the same imperialism with a few additional players thrown in to make it look like a global order. A rose by any other name is still a rose.

Study your precedents and don't ever give up!!

William Hague's statement

Full speech on Mau Mau compensation by Foreign Secretary William Hague
Updated Thursday, June 6th 2013 at 15:41 GMT +3

With permission, Mr Speaker, I would like to make a statement on a legal settlement that the Government has reached concerning the claims of Kenyan citizens who lived through the Emergency Period and the Mau Mau insurgency from October 1952 to December 1963.

During the Emergency Period widespread violence was committed by both sides, and most of the victims were Kenyan. Many thousands of Mau Mau members were killed, while the Mau Mau themselves were responsible for the deaths of over 2,000 people including 200 casualties among the British regiments and police.

Emergency regulations were introduced: political organisations were banned; prohibited areas were created and provisions for detention without trial were enacted. The colonial authorities made unprecedented use of capital punishment and sanctioned harsh prison so-called ‘rehabilitation’ regimes.

Many of those detained were never tried and the links of many with the Mau Mau were never proven. There was recognition at the time of the brutality of these repressive measures and the shocking level of violence, including an important debate in this House on the infamous events at Hola Camp in 1959.

We recognise that British personnel were called upon to serve in difficult and dangerous circumstances. Many members of the colonial service contributed to establishing the institutions that underpin Kenya today and we acknowledge their contribution.

However I would like to make clear now and for the first time, on behalf of Her Majesty’s Government, that we understand the pain and grievance felt by those who were involved in the events of the Emergency in Kenya.

The British Government recognises that Kenyans were subject to torture and other forms of ill treatment at the hands of the colonial administration.

The British government sincerely regrets that these abuses took place, and that they marred Kenya’s progress towards independence. Torture and ill treatment are abhorrent violations of human dignity which we unreservedly condemn.

In October 2009 claims were first brought to the High Court by five individuals who were detained during the Emergency period regarding their treatment in detention.

In 2011 the High Court rejected the claimants’ argument that the liabilities of the colonial administration transferred to the British Government on independence, but allowed the claims to proceed on the basis of other arguments.

In 2012 a further hearing took place to determine whether the cases should be allowed to proceed. The High Court ruled that three of the five cases could do so. The Court of Appeal was due to hear our appeal against that decision last month.

However, I can announce today that the Government has now reached an agreement with Leigh Day, the solicitors acting on behalf of the Claimants, in full and final settlement of their clients’ claims.

The agreement includes payment of a settlement sum in respect of 5,228 claimants, as well as a gross costs sum, to the total value of £19.9 million.

The Government will also support the construction of a memorial in Nairobi to the victims of torture and ill-treatment during the colonial era. The memorial will stand alongside others that are already being established in Kenya as the country continues to heal the wounds of the past.

And the British High Commissioner in Nairobi is also today making a public statement to members of the Mau Mau War Veterans Association in Kenya, explaining the settlement and expressing our regret for the events of the Emergency Period.

Mr Speaker this settlement provides recognition of the suffering and injustice that took place in Kenya. The Government of Kenya, the Kenya Human Rights Commission and the Mau Mau War Veterans Association have long been in favour of a settlement, and it is my hope that the agreement now reached will receive wide support, will help draw a line under these events, and will support reconciliation.

We continue to deny liability on behalf of the Government and British taxpayers today for the actions of the colonial administration in respect of the claims, and indeed the courts have made no finding of liability against the Government in this case.

We do not believe that claims relating to events that occurred overseas outside direct British jurisdiction more than fifty years ago can be resolved satisfactorily through the courts without the testimony of key witnesses that is no longer available.

It is therefore right that the Government has defended the case to this point since 2009.

It is of course right that those who feel they have a case are free to bring it to the courts. However we will also continue to exercise our own right to defend claims brought against the Government. And we do not believe that this settlement establishes a precedent in relation to any other former British colonial administration.

The settlement I am announcing today is part of a process of reconciliation. In December this year, Kenya will mark its 50th anniversary of independence and the country’s future belongs to a post independence generation. We do not want our current and future relations with Kenya to be overshadowed by the past.

Today we are bound together by commercial, security and personal links that benefit both our countries. We are working together closely to build a more stable region. Bilateral trade between the UK and Kenya amounts to £1 billion each year, and around 200,000 Britons visit Kenya annually.

Although we should never forget history and indeed must always seek to learn from it, we should also look to the future, strengthening a relationship that will promote the security and prosperity of both our nations. I trust that this settlement will support that process. The ability to recognise error in the past but also to build the strongest possible foundation for cooperation and friendship in the future are both hallmarks of our democracy.

From the Eagle Watch
June 8, 2013

We point to PM Stephen Harper's almost apology to Indigenous people over the Residential School/Internment Camps for Indigenous children legacy.  These injustices will not go away until they are addressed, acknowledged and atoned for
.  We must never give up...

-------- Original Message --------
Subject:[LegacyofColonialism] Mau Mau accept an almost apology from Britain
Date:Fri, 07 Jun 2013 09:56:28 -0000

this email contains:

1). 59 years late - but Mau Mau accept an almost apology, by Daniel Howden & Kim Sengupta (The Independent)

2). Britain has said sorry to the Mau Mau. The rest of the empire is still waiting, by Caroline Elkins (The Guardian)


59 years late - but Mau Mau accept an almost apology
by Daniel Howden & Kim Sengupta, The Independent
Friday 07 June 2013

Elderly survivors of brutal colonial torture express satisfaction with Hague's statement of regret – and sorrow at its cause

Fifty-nine years after he was tortured in a concentration camp run by British colonial authorities in Kenya, Wamutwe Ngau received a statement of "regret" and the promise of a cheque for £2,658 yesterday.

The 82-year-old is one of 5,228 veterans of the Mau Mau uprising against British rule who will share £13.9m in an out-of-court settlement with the British government, which will also pay £6m to the law firm Leigh Day, which represented the victims, and fund the construction of a memorial to victims of colonial-era torture in Kenya.

The statement from the British Foreign Secretary William Hague was relayed to about 100 of the octogenarians at a hotel in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi. Mr Ngau remembered how he had been beaten with rifle butts and had his testicles crushed with a pair of pliers during his three-year internment. His left leg is largely numb and he lifted a worn-out shirt to reveal the scar from a bullet hole on his hip.

His greatest pain, he said, was that he was unable to have children.

"A man without children is worthless, but in my culture if someone says sorry you have to accept it," he said. "It's what we have been waiting for."

Like many of the veterans who travelled to Nairobi from the old battlegrounds in the forests of central Kenya, he said the apology was worth more than the "little money" which they said would not alleviate the poverty in which most of them live.

The Mau Mau, which took up arms against the colonisers in 1952, was the first resistance movement of its kind in the British empire. It was violently put down with as many as 90,000 Kenyans tortured, maimed or executed.

The statement from Mr Hague in the House of Commons came after a four-year legal battle in which the Government tried and failed to argue that it was not responsible for the actions of the colonial administration. That stance was rejected by the High Court in 2011 when it ruled that four Kenyan torture victims had a case arguable in law.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office then claimed that there were "irredeemable difficulties" in retrieving documents and witnesses from the period. This argument was thrown out last October and the way cleared for a trial. In the process reams of archive documents that emerged helped to prove the scope of abuse of thousands of Kenyans interned in camps during the emergency period.

Yesterday's admission of "torture and ill-treatment" should correct the view the British empire was more benign than those of other European powers, said Professor Caroline Elkins, the author of Imperial Reckoning: The Untold Story of Britain's Gulag in Kenya. An expert witness during the legal battle, she pored through "absolutely horrific" testimony of violence meted out to Kenyans by British colonial officers. "People were beaten to death, raped, sodomised with foreign objects, and in some cases tied to the back of Land Rovers and dragged to their deaths."

All this was done with the "full knowledge" of the colonial office in London.

"These crimes were committed by British colonial officials and have gone unrecognised and unpunished for decades," said Daniel Leader, a partner at Leigh Day.

There is mounting concern the relatively modest compensation could be diverted from claimants. Since Leigh Day's legal effort first began 10 years ago, numerous rival organisations claiming to represent the Mau Mau veterans have sprung up.

Bryan Cox QC from another British outfit, Tandem Law, said that his firm has signed up more than 8,000 Kenyan veterans and the "matter was far from over". A Kenyan group calling itself Mau Mau Harambee Jamhuri Ya Kenya that claims to have 3,427 members has refused to recognise yesterday's settlement.

Mr Hague, who did not offer an apology to the Kenyan victims in his statement following legal advice, insisted the payment did not mean the UK accepted liability for the mistreatment of detainees and did not set a precedent for future cases.

The Foreign Secretary said: "We will continue to exercise our own rights to defend claims brought against the Government and we do not believe that this settlement establishes a precedent in relation to any other former British colonial administration."


Britain has said sorry to the Mau Mau. The rest of the empire is still waiting
by Caroline Elkins
The Guardian, Thursday 6 June 2013

British colonial violence was brutal, and systematic. If there is any justice, the Mau Mau's stunning legal victory should be the first of many

On Thursday nearly 200 elderly Kikuyu people travelled from their rural homesteads and sat before the British high commissioner in Nairobi. Over half a century had passed since many were last in front of a British official. It was a different era then in Kenya. The Mau Mau war was raging, and Britain was implementing coercive policies that left indelible scars on the bodies and minds of countless men and women suspected of subversive activities.

In the 1950s they experienced events in colonial detention camps that few imagined possible. Yesterday they gathered to witness another once unimaginable thing: the much-delayed colonial gesture at reconciliation. The high commissioner read extracts from William Hague's earlier statement in parliament. Hague acknowledged for the first time that the elderly Kikuyu and other Kenyans had been subjected to torture and other horrific abuses at the hands of the colonial administration during the Mau Mau emergency. On behalf of the British government he expressed "sincere regret" that these abuses had taken place, announced payments of £2,600 to each of 5,200 vetted claimants, and urged that the process of healing for both nations begin.

The faces of the elderly camp survivors betrayed the day's historical significance. Tears rolled down faces lined from years of internalised pain and bitterness. Many sat motionless as the high commissioner read the statement. Others let out audible gasps, and cries of joy. Some burst into song.

By any measure the announcement was stunning. With it, Britain jettisoned its appeal of the Mau Mau reparation case in the high court. Filed in 2009, the case was the first of its kind against the former British empire. Archival documents amassed for my book, Imperial Reckoning: The Untold Story of Britain's Gulag, were submitted in support of the case, together with other historical evidence.

As it dragged on, more evidence emerged, this time from the British government. In early2011 it announced the discovery of some 300 boxes of previously undisclosed files in Hanslope Park. As expert witness I reviewed many of these documents, hundreds of which offered additional evidence of colonial-directed coercion and torture. Facing a mountain of damning facts from imperial yesteryear, the British government chose to settle.

Britain's acknowledgement of colonial era torture has opened as many doors at it has closed. Kenya was scarcely an exception. British colonial repression was systematised and honed in the years following the second world war. First in Palestine, and then Malaya, Kenya, Cyprus, Aden, Northern Ireland and elsewhere, British coercive counter-insurgency tactics evolved, as did brutal interrogation techniques. The Mau Mau detention camps were but one site in a broader policy of end-of-empire incarceration, torture and cover-up.

In the wake of its announcement, Britain now faces potential claims from across its former empire. From a historical perspective, the government has every reason to be concerned about its legacy. There is unequivocal evidence of colonial brutalities in end-of-empire Malaya, Cyprus and elsewhere. Whether there is enough for successful legal claims is another matter altogether, however.

Lessons from the Mau Mau case in the high court are instructive. History was on trial, as it would be in other cases. As such, the level of historical reconstruction needed was extraordinary, as was the volume of evidence for a successful claim. The case was one that clearly rose and fell on highly detailed levels of historical knowledge and evidence.

The Kikuyu had a team of three historical experts – myself, David Anderson and Huw Bennett. Together, we brought decades of revisionist research to the case, and with it a full range of knowledge necessary for a successful claim. Outside Kenya, no other field has the depth or breadth of revisionist scholarship documenting British colonial violence at the end of empire. In part, this is due to the fact that British colonial authorities destroyed evidence at the time of decolonisation, or withheld other boxes of files for years. Regardless, without revisionist work, other potential cases will be at a disadvantage.

From a historian's perspective, two other factors were also at play. First, the discovery of the Hanslope files added layers of additional evidence crucial to the success of the Mau Mau claims. Some 8,800 files from 36 other colonies were discovered alongside the Kenya documents. However, none of these files, or at least those that the British government has now released to the National Archives, provide the kind of evidence contained in the Kenya documents. Second, the claimants and their historical experts were guided by the sharp legal minds and experience of Leigh Day and the Kenya Human Rights Commission. In effect, this was an exercise where expert, revisionist scholarship and human rights law came together with great effect – another first for the former British empire.

A cynic might say that the British government played its hand as best it could, and with an eye to other cases; that it dragged out proceedings for years so future claimants are now deceased; that its release of potential evidence files at Hanslope has been less than transparent, despite public claims to the contrary. Moreover, the high court's rulings over the past four years have tipped its hand to other potential cases. We now know that the chances of descendants of victims filing successful claims are slim, and the watermark for overcoming the statute of limitations is exceedingly high, as is the amount of historical evidence and expert forensic analysis. None of these factors bodes well for other potential claims.

Ultimately, the Mau Mau case is as symbolic as it is instructive. Regardless of future claims, Britons can no longer hide behind the rhetoric of unequivocal imperial success. Instead, British liberalism in the empire – with its alleged spread of civilisation, progress, liberty and rule of law justifying any coercive actions – has been irreversibly exposed.

Instead of being one-offs, Britain's colonial violence was as systematised as its efforts at cover-up. The British validation of the Mau Mau claims – and its first form of an apology for modern empire – offers its citizens an opportunity to understand more fully the unholy relationship between liberalism and imperialism, and the impacts not only on the elderly Kikuyu, but on themselves.
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Canada is in fact a corporation – Mohawk Indian elder



"When crazy people call you crazy, you know you're sane. 

When evil people call you evil, you know that you are a good person. 
When lairs call you a liar, you know that you are truthful. 
Know who you are and don't let others tell you who you are." - Dave Kitchen

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