• June 22, 2020

Follow up to our earlier item. The Youtube report (link attached) covers the unveiling of a memorial and planting of a tree in memory of the torture victims and thosed who died at the hands of the British military in the struggle by the Kenya Land and Freedom Army (Mau Mau) in the 1950s. It includes an interview with one victim who spent four years in steel shackles and others including women who were tortured.

A great majority of the British Army personnel in Kenya engaged in what was called OPERATION ANVIL were National Servicemen and truth about the horrors being perpetrated leaked out in the UK media in the 1950s. Army personnel were encouraged to bring body parts back after sweeps ‘to prove kills’ (severed hands or feet) this in itself prompted worse excesses. The brutality was known about at the highest levels of the Security Forces, The British Army Commander in Kenya, General George Erskine, admitted to the excesses in a confidential document to the War Office but it stayed hidden in the files for half a century. While the torture and deaths were at their height in 1955 Erskine was made a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath by Elizabeth II.

The UK cover up may never have been exposed only for the painstaking work of US academic Caroline Elkins who was unable to access confidential official files, carried out scores of interviews with survivors and also cross referenced population data to expose the dramatic death toll.

Britain acknowledged its role in the torture and paid compensation to victims in 2012 following a successful court case. The British Foreign Secretary gave a somewhat grudging apology in parliament (see link).

This was not about money in most instances torture victims received about £2000 after waiting over half a century for compensation.

Memorial: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=syRJpvSb_os

Hague Statement


Related link:


Image: Caroline Elkins with Gitu Wa Kahengeri, secretary general of the Mau Mau War Veterans Association, in Nairobi, Kenya, 2013. Photograph: Noor Khamis/Reuters

Bernard Moffatt

Assistant General Secretary Celtic League (20th June 2020)

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