• April 7, 2011


The case brought this week by five Kenyan citizens in the UK High Court has the potential to open up to scrutiny the vicious campaign waged by the British government and colonial authorities to suppress the nationalist uprising of the Kenya Land and Freedom Army in the 1950s. Many of the violent techniques used by the UK were eventually deployed elsewhere including in Ulster. Many of the British army officers who honed their violent and torturous counter-insurgency skills in Kenya went on to train those who served in Ulster. In fact so deep-seated were the `lessons’ of the Kenya conflict that the British Army in Iraq was perpetrating the same techniques of torture on detainees as their predecessors had done half a century before.

Already solicitors acting for the five have forced the United Kingdom government to admit that a staggering fifteen thousand documents previously thought lost which were removed from Kenya just prior to independence are still in existence. Many of these files document in graphic detail the abuse meted out by the British to detainees.

The admission has implications for similarly bloody episodes in the UK colonial past with hitherto unseen files on British `insurgent’ suppression operations in Malaya, Cyprus, Palestine and Aden thought to be gathering dust in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office archives.

It’s a testament to the success of British government propaganda that for over fifty years the rising by what were termed `Mau Mau’ insurgents has seen the Kenyan freedom fighters portrayed as bloodthirsty and vicious with most of the publicised atrocities laid at their door.

The truth which has started to emerge in recent years has reflected that there was indeed a vicious war fought in Kenya but most of the atrocities were committed by the security forces and documented testimony indicates that the British Army, Police and Auxiliaries engaged in acts which were not only violent
but bestial and depraved. The three men and two women involved in today’s case say they suffered
castration, sexual abuse and severe beatings in detention camps administered by the British rule and now want an apology and financial compensation. Their claims and the recently revealed `secret’ files will give increased credence to recent more objective books on the fight of the Kenya Land and Freedom Army
including David Anderson’s (2005). Histories of the Hanged: The Dirty War in Kenya and the End of Empire and by Caroline Elkins (2005). Britain’s Gulag: The Brutal End of Empire in Kenya.
Anderson’s book reveals a staggering 1090 executions of insurgents occurred and Elkins puts the death toll caused by the counter-insurgency at over 70,000 (and possibly in the hundreds of thousands).
Techniques learned in Kenya were exported elsewhere to deal with problems in other areas the British regarded as trouble-spots. Kenyan security techniques were even extrapolated to the British Isles where the practice of running counter-gangs and murder squads was used to infamous effect by the British
security forces in the six counties with protestant paramilitaries playing the role of `compliant natives’.

Related articles on Celtic News here:


J B Moffatt (Mr)
Director of Information
Celtic League


The Celtic League has branches in the six Celtic Countries. It works to promote cooperation between these countries and campaigns on a broad range of political, cultural and environmental matters. It highlights
human rights abuse, monitors all military activity and focuses on socio-economic issues.

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