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    Default Atrocities of Colonial Imperialism

    Britain should apologize for Balfour Declaration, says Christian group

    2 February 2017

    The Iona Community, a Christian organization in Scotland, has declared its full support for the Palestinian-led boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.

    “BDS is an act of nonviolent solidarity, pursuing equality, freedom and justice,” reads a new Iona Community statement.

    The statement endorses the BDS movement’s three demands by arguing for an end to Israel’s military occupation of the West Bank and siege of Gaza, equal rights for Palestinian citizens of Israel and the right of return for Palestinian refugees.

    The statement also condemns Christian Zionism “as a distortion of the Christian faith in its abuse of scripture to oppress Palestinian people.”

    “Listen to oppressed”

    “The Iona Community has long sought, in all kinds of global and local contexts, to listen to the voices of those who are oppressed, and to take those voices seriously,” said Michael Marten, a member of the Iona Community’s council, its highest decision-making body.

    “Through our members’ involvement in situations around the world over many decades, including in Africa, Asia, Latin America, as well as the Middle East, we have sought to try and understand the situations of others and offer solidarity and engagement.”

    The community’s willingness to endorse full BDS and the right of return – steps that many other Christian bodies have not been ready to take – results from its relationship with Kairos Palestine, a coalition of Palestinian Christians that has endorsed the BDS call.

    The statement was approved by the community’s council after a process that began with a working group formed in 2015.

    “In engaging with the call from Kairos Palestine,” said Marten, “we took seriously the call for full BDS and in our discernment process felt that this was the only way we could respond. It seemed obvious to us that we should listen to what Palestinian Christians were saying and take that seriously.”

    That same approach led to inclusion of the right of return.

    “This is not a simplistic position,” said Marten, also an academic on political and religious history. “We recognize that the practical implementation of such a move is tremendously complex but that does not negate the fact that this [the expulsion of Palestinians by Zionist forces] is a fundamental injustice.”

    He described the right of return as “central to a just transformation of the current conflict.”

    Apology for Balfour

    The Iona Community’s statement also refers to the centenary of the Balfour Declaration. Signed by Arthur James Balfour, then British foreign secretary, that 1917 letter pledged to support the Zionist movement’s objective of colonizing Palestine.

    The Iona Community has urged that Britain apologize “for its part in the dispossession of Palestinian land and the wider Middle East conflict.”

    Marten noted that Balfour came from a Scottish Presbyterian background, the same denomination as the founder of the Iona Community, George MacLeod.

    Marten has been traveling to Palestine since 1991.

    “[Since] that time, I can see a remarkable change in the situation,” said Marten. “From being a marginal position, a pro-justice position has become a mainstream one, including in the churches, even if the political contexts don’t reflect that.”

    The Iona Community is small – with around 280 full members, and several thousand associate members and friends, according to its website. Yet it has long had an influence through the distribution of worship music and other liturgical resources used by many other churches worldwide.

    For example, it has previously distributed music celebrating the South African anti-apartheid movement. The community’s statement notes that BDS tactics played a role “in ending South African apartheid,” adding, “we seek to learn from that.”

    By taking this stance, the Iona Community should provide some inspiration to those churches and religious organizations, which have yet to come out publicly in defense of Palestinian rights.


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    Irish president admits convicts took part in Aboriginal genocide

    The admission was made in front of Australian politicians who are largely in denial about Australia’s colonial history.

    In the first visit to Australia by an Irish head of state in almost 20 years. The President took the opportunity to admit that Irish convicts/settlers took part in the killings of Aboriginal people during colonisation. The admission was made in Western Australia’s state parliament earlier this month. The killings were part of the wider ethnic cleansing campaign that aimed to completely rid Australia of Aboriginal people.

    Sadly this history is rarely spoken about within Australia’s political circles. Even though there a thousands of recorded massacre sites around Australia, some politicians still try to describe these as isolated incidents. This denial has been around for many years and is referred to as ‘the history wars’.

    One of the most famous politicians to deny these atrocities is former Prime Minister, John Howard, who still stands by his words today.

    It isn’t known how the Australian politicians feel about the Irish president’s admission as the media is not reporting on this story.
    NITV have reported on the story where they quoted Indigenous politician, Linda Burney, as feeling refreshed to hear such honesty from the Irish leader.


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    The Balfour Declaration Is Another Colonial Distortion of History

    The 100-year anniversary of one of Great Britain’s great betrayals is approaching. Professor Stuart Rees explains.

    At the beginning of November, the centenary of the Balfour Declaration, an influential but highly deceitful historical document will be celebrated, certainly in Israel, probably in Australia.

    In the United States and Australia, recent controversies over history have concerned attempts to reject past records, as in the destruction of monuments to defeated slave owners in the American civil war and in challenges to the alleged achievements of Captain Cook in Australia.

    The 100-year-old false claims in the Balfour Declaration, which paved the way for the creation of the State of Israel, also need to be identified and rejected.

    British Deception

    British deception of Arab interests began before Balfour’s initiative
    . In 1915-16, correspondence between British High Commissioner in Egypt Henry McMahon and Sherif Hussein of Mecca shows that official promises were made to Arab leaders, that after World War I, in exchange for their support in the British struggle against the Ottoman Turks, there would be independence of Palestine.

    By November 2nd 1917, the deception inherent in policy became explicit. On that date, British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour wrote to Lord Rothschild, a leader of the British Jewish community, “His Majesty’s Government view[s]with favour the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine….”

    ‘Clearly understood’ suggests that the British would insist on equal treatment for Indigenous Palestinians and the minority Jewish population. A year later, in an openly racist letter, Balfour wrote to his successor Lord Curzon, “Zionism is of profounder import than the desires and prejudices of 700,000 Arabs who now inhabit this ancient land.”

    In the mandate system introduced by the Treaty of Versailles in 1919, Britain’s responsibility to administer Palestine came on the understanding that it would work on behalf of Jewish and Palestinian communities. Consistent with this understanding, in May 1939, the British government recommended a limit of 75,000 on further immigrants and an end to immigration by 1944 unless the resident Arabs of the region consented to further immigration.

    This recommendation meant nothing. Two-faced responses by the British continued. In 2015, the Lord Mayor of London, Boris Johnson wrote that the Balfour Declaration was ‘bizarre’, ‘a tragically incoherent document’, ‘an exquisite piece of Foreign Office fudgerama.’ In mid-2017, on becoming foreign Secretary in Prime Minister Theresa May’s government, Johnson declared that Balfour’s letter reflected ‘a great tide of history.’

    American and Australian Collusion

    In a February 2017 letter to the New York Times, Roderick Balfour, a descendant of the former Foreign Secretary, identified the long-term consequences of the Balfour Declaration. He wrote, “The increasing inability of Israel to address the condition of the Palestinians coupled with the expansion into Arab territories of the Jewish settlements are major factors in the growing anti-Semitism around the world.”

    This letter prompted the bombastic US lawyer Alan Dershowitz to trot out the intellectually lazy but standard retort that anyone who criticizes the policies of an Israeli government must be anti-Semitic. Dershowitz compounded his argument with half-truths about the content of the Balfour Declaration, “And let the Palestinians finally come to the bargaining table and recognize Israel as the National State of the Jewish People in the way that the Balfour Declaration intended.”

    It has never been clear what Balfour intended, but if powerful people can promote their version of history, who cares?’

    About the time that Roderick Balfour penned his letter to the New York Times, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was welcoming Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu to Australia. Turnbull’s welcome included the claim that, “Australia and Israel have a relationship forged in the crucible of history”. This could mean that Captain’s Cook’s 1788 discovery of an ‘empty’ Australia corresponded to the Zionist claim in 1948 that Palestine was ‘a land without a people for a people without a land.’

    As part of his welcome, Turnbull managed to associate the Australian 4th Light Horse Brigade’s defeat of the Ottoman Turks at Beersheba as a foundation of the Australia/Israel relationship. The October 30th 1917 charge of a horse brigade contributed to the creation of the State of Israel? This beggars belief.

    Turnbull insisted that Israel and Australia “share a commitment to freedom, democracy and the rule of law”. He announced that he’ll be celebrating the battle of Beersheba. No comment about Palestinians. No mention of justice. No reference to international law. No recognition of different laws for Israeli and Arab citizens of Israel, let alone any acknowledgement of inhumanities in the siege of Gaza.

    Turnbull’s Objectives?

    Given Malcolm Turnbull’s bad polling, a celebration of Beersheba and Balfour in Israel would be a convenient distraction. It would match the British Prime Minister Theresa May’s recent claim that she wanted the British people to be proud of the Balfour Declaration.

    Independent journalist Robert Fisk asks, what is there to be proud of? He has described the Balfour Declaration as the most mendacious, deceitful and hypocritical document in British history.

    In pursuit of justice, the centenary of Balfour Declaration could be marked by long overdue adherence to the rules of international law. That task will take courage and is urgent. Millions of Palestinians are marooned in refugee camps. West Bank citizens have endured 50 years of military occupation. Palestinian homes are destroyed and replaced by thousands of new Israeli settlements.

    In a macabre play, which should be titled ‘Cruelty Beyond Belief’, two million Gazans live under siege in life threatening conditions.

    The Balfour misrepresentations and distortions must end. Only if history is properly understood could justice be attained. That outcome would be a cause for celebration.


    The Balfour Declaration: 100 years of conflict

    When the Balfour Declaration was made on 2 November 1917, Britain was at the height of its imperial power, locked in a deadly struggle with the upstart German Empire.

    Afraid of the possible influence of a declaration of jihad against the British Empire by the Caliph, the Sultan of Turkey, General Kitchener in October 1914 guaranteed to the Governor of Makkah, Sherif Hussein that in return for help against the Ottomans, there would be no intervention in Arabia. [This is where the Arabs rebelled and turned traitors against the Caliph for which they are still paying]

    Letters were exchanged between Sherif Hussein and the British Government via McMahon, the High Commissioner for Egypt.

    One letter on 24 October 1915 guaranteed that Palestine would be included in an independent Arab nation after the war, but Lebanon would not.

    The next month, in great secrecy, discussions were commenced between the French and British allies as to the shape of the carve up of Ottoman lands after the victory. This was in direct contradiction with what had been promised to Sherif Hussein.

    According to this Sykes-Picot Agreement, a land later called Iraq was to be under the British, Syria and Lebanon under the French, TransJordan under the British and Turkey was to be carved up with Czarist Russia occupying Istanbul and Turkish Armenia.

    The Bolsheviks published these secret agreements after the Russian Revolution but Britain denied that such an agreement existed.

    The Balfour Declaration was issued the year after the Sykes-Picot Agreement, in order to rally Jewish support for the British war effort. It promised to support the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people in Palestine, provided nothing was done “to prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine.”

    According to Avi Shlaim: “By helping the Zionists to take over Palestine, the British hoped to secure a dominant presence in the area and to exclude the French.” [25 August 2017 Middle East Eye]

    Well aware of what this would mean for Arab support for the war effort , Lord Allenby, whose troops were fighting in Palestine, kept the declaration secret.

    Balfour was no friend of the Jewish community. He was in fact anti-Semitic.

    He had the 1905 Aliens Act passed to keep Eastern Jews out of Britain. In 1880 there were about 60,000 Jews in England.

    Between 1881 and 1905, there was an immigration of some 100,000 Eastern Jews fleeing persecution in Czarist Russia. They could be compared to the present waves of Muslim and Christian refugees fleeing the Baath Party-muharib Daesh today.

    The PM Lloyd George was the main instigator of the declaration. As Avi Shlaim comments: “In aligning Britain with the Zionist movement, he acted in the mistaken – and anti-semitic – view that the Jews were extraordinarily influential and that they made the wheels of history turn. In fact, the Jewish people were helpless, with no influence other than via the myth of clandestine power.”

    Born of the most murderous conflict the world had ever witnessed, part of the betrayal and lies of imperial politics, the Balfour Declaration was and is a disgrace.

    Unfortunately the British government is not ashamed of its creation. The current Prime Minister continues the policies of old.

    “In a December 2016 speech to the Conservative Friends of Israel, which includes over 80 percent of Tory MPs and the entire cabinet, she hailed Israel as “a remarkable country” and “a beacon of tolerance”.

    Rubbing salt in Palestinian wounds, she called the Balfour Declaration “one of the most important letters in history,” and she promised to celebrate it on the anniversary.” [Avi Shlaim, Middle East Eye. 25 August 2017]


    Nothing learnt: Balfour and Britain's generosity with other people's lands

    On November 2, the UK will unapologetically celebrate 100 years since the Balfour Declaration — in which it began the process of stealing away the Palestinian homeland. Bilal Cleland reports.

    THIS YEAR, on 2 November, the world commemorates the centenary of the Balfour Declaration — the granting by the British Government of a homeland for the Zionist movement in a land already occupied by Muslim and Christian Palestinians, in a territory still part of the centuries old Ottoman Empire. It was in the midst of the most terrible slaughter the world had ever witnessed.

    Such generosity with the lands of other peoples was a mark of European imperialism. That is how the lands of the First Nations people of Australia became British territory. It was how West Africa, North Africa, Indo-China and several islands in the Caribbean and the Pacific became “French.”In his 2015 book One Islam, Many Muslim Worlds, Raymond Baker summarises this culture of violence of Christendom (pp.28-29):

    'The Twentieth Century opened with the empires of Britain, France, and Russia using overwhelming force to consolidate their occupation of Islamic lands. Imperial powers came to the Islamic world as the carriers of a racist culture of violence. Murderous European civil wars, fueled by the blood and soil nationalism on which the West prided itself, had bred the terrible virus. Imperialism acted as its disseminating agent. European armies, whether from western or eastern Europe, waged wars of casual extermination in their quest for global domination.'

    Lying to subject peoples was – and is – all part of exercising imperial control. In October 1915, in order to get Arab support against the German Empire and the Khalif of Islam, the British High Commissioner to Egypt sent the Governor of Mecca a note which declared Britain's willingness to recognise the independence of the Arabs, both in the Levant and the Hejaz.

    The areas "reserved" under the McMahon-Hussein correspondence (Image via mideastweb.org)

    What the naïve Arab leadership did not know was that negotiations commenced in November 1915 between France and Britain for a mutual carve-up of the Ottoman territories. The secret Sykes-Picot Agreement was exposed before the end of the conflict.

    It is within this pattern of imperial slaughter and betrayal that the Balfour Declaration was born.According to historian Avi Shlaim, it was both a betrayal of the Arabs and a betrayal of the French:

    'Under the secret Sykes-Picot agreement of 1916, the two countries divided up the Middle East into zones of influence but compromised on an international administration for Palestine. By helping the Zionists to take over Palestine, the British hoped to secure a dominant presence in the area and to exclude the French.'

    Arthur Balfour himself was an anti-Semite. As British Prime Minister (1902-05), he brought into law the Aliens Act of 1905, which was aimed at reducing the influx of Jews, 100,000 of whom had entered Britain between 1881 and 1905. But Prime Minister David Lloyd George (1916-22), the real motivator of the Declaration, saw this latter initiative as a means to rally Jewish support for the British war effort. The Balfour Declaration, sent to influential British Zionist and former Tory MP Lord Walter Rothschild, promised British Government support for a homeland for the Jewish people in Palestine provided nothing was done'... to prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine.'

    This was obviously predicated upon the defeat and destruction of the Ottoman Empire.

    It was not fully implemented. It laid the ground for a centuries long colonial war in Palestine, where 'the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities' were not respected.That the British Tory Government intends to celebrate the centenary of this tragic event says volumes.Its response to a petition calling for it to apologise, began with a clear position:

    'The Balfour Declaration is an historic statement for which HMG does not intend to apologise. We are proud of our role in creating the state of Israel.'

    The future will reveal how proud it should be, as it has obviously learnt nothing from the past.


    Britain broke its promise to the Palestinian people - on Balfour's centenary it should make amends

    After Palestinian anti-Balfour posters were banned from London's transport network in accordance with TFL rules, an honest debate on the Palestinian question is needed more than ever

    Just over two weeks from the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration on 2 November, all parties are readying their narratives for the impending public opinion battle ahead.Jews largely see the Balfour Declaration as a defining moment leading to the creation of the state of Israel, while for Palestinians it is when their country was just promised away over their heads, violating the second part of the declaration that "nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine".Palestinians from the leaderships to the popular level rail against the British government's attitude on the Balfour Declaration. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has for two years demanded an historic apology from Britain. His foreign minister threatened to sue Britain in a statement at the 2016 Arab League summit. It is one issue that unites all Palestinians. Britain is fair game to blame.

    Shades of censorship

    Determined to engage the British public on Balfour, the Palestinian Mission in London attempted to place adverts, which it had paid for, about the Balfour Declaration and subsequent Palestinian losses on the London Underground network and buses as part of what it called the "Make it Right" campaign.Transport for London (TFL) banned the adverts on the grounds that they were "politically controversial" and “did not comply fully with our guidelines".

    The Palestinian Ambassador in London, Manuel Hassassian, issued a furious riposte to the Guardian newspaper accusing TFL of censorship, proclaiming that "there may be free speech in Britain on every issue under the sun but not on Palestine".

    At face value, both have a point.TFL's rules state that political campaigns and adverts cannot be used on the underground nor adverts that would arouse controversy. The Balfour Declaration is every bit as politically controversial today, as it was when the then British Foreign Secretary, Arthur Balfour, issued the pledge a century ago. Remember that this is not the US where political advertising is a mega industry, protected as free speech under the first amendment. In Britain - for example - political advertising is banned on television, a decision that was upheld by the European Court of Human Rights in 2013.The TFL rulebook certainly does not appear to allow for such adverts.

    Consistency issues

    If it was the other way round, and the Israeli embassy paid for an advert celebrating the Balfour Declaration, Palestinians would be rightly demanding it be blocked under exactly the same rules. But perhaps where TFL should be questioned is on the issue of consistency? Whether an advert is political or controversial is ultimately a matter of judgement. This does not explain why TFL allowed a similar advert to run for two weeks at Westminster tube station for last November's 99th anniversary.

    That too was part of the "Make it Right" campaign. Has something happened to change TFL's position or did it make a mistake?
    The Russian channel Russia Today (RT) has recently taken out adverts on the tube ridiculing widespread accusations that it is a propaganda channel. TFL said that it adhered to its guidelines, yet RT is certainly controversial and few believe it is anything but a political tool of the Kremlin.

    Hassassian also makes a powerful point on the issue of censorship and the lack of debate. University debates on this issue are frequently cancelled. Those who dare to support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign (BDS) become the target of attacks by government ministers and the anti-Palestinian groups that refuse to recognise Palestinian rights. Fears of false accusations of anti-Semitism hold many back from saying what they think about Israeli government actions and policies. Elected politicians from all parties have told me this on many occasions.

    Seize the moment

    That the Palestinian viewpoint does not get a hearing in the plush corridors of Whitehall is one reason why advertising space on the underground has seen fearsome debates before. Only in February 2016, activists plastered trains and walls with posters accusing Israel of apartheid and the media of being biased in an unauthorised flyposting campaign.Moreover, who can blame Palestinian officials for fulminating against a British government whose prime minister is still determined to celebrate Balfour with "pride". Theresa May might have an acceptable position if she ever balanced this by expressing regret, that while Balfour did prove positive for the Jewish people, it was an horrific disaster for the Palestinian people and its effects are ongoing today.

    The real shame is that the debate over Palestine has been driven underground. The mainstream media typically avoids the issue. British cabinet ministers only seem to appear at Israeli-friendly or anti-Palestinian events. Boris Johnson took months after taking over as Foreign Secretary before he dared say anything on the issue. The Balfour anniversary could be just such an opportunity if only there was a politician with sufficient guts and clout minded to seize the moment.

    The solution is to render this advert obsolete with one simple decision. Britain should recognise Palestine now. Perhaps then we could have an advert on the underground promoting tourism to the state of Palestine. One day this might not even be controversial.


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    Memoirs of Mr. Hempher: Confessions of a British spy

    27 January 2014

    The Memoirs of Mr. Hempher was an autobiographical account of a British spy who had infiltrated the Ottoman Empire in the early 1700s. In the document, Hempher confesses to a number of plans to destroy the Ottoman Empire by promoting separatism in the Middle-East and thus leave the Muslim world in tatters.

    Hempher was a British spy who had been specially raised and sent to the Ottoman Empire. After receiving an in-depth education in Islam and the Turkish language in Britain, he was sent on his first mission in Istanbul.

    On arrival, after portraying himself as a lonely westerner who had converted to Islam, he came under the tutelage of a scholar known as Sheikh Ahmed. Under his tutelage, he learned Arabic and the Islamic sciences, as well as further enhancing his Turkish.

    Hempher later returned to Britain to be briefed by the British Imperial Ministry. He was then sent on a new mission to Basra, Iraq to study, stir and even provoke new separatist tendencies in the Muslim world. In a place where both Sunni and Shiite Muslims coexist, Basra was the ideal location for this mission.

    According to Hempher, nine other agents like himself were operating in the Ottoman lands. One of these agents went missing in Yemen, while another went missing in Russia. The agent in Egypt abandoned his mission after actually converting to Islam, whereas another agent died while on duty.

    In his memoirs, Hempher details the weak points of the Muslim world, and along with exposing tensions between Sunnis and Shiites, he also explained the formation of a new movement which later became known as Wahhabism.

    One of the most important confessions of Hempher was that the British Imperial Ministry was following political developments in the Muslim world so closely that they had even established a unit to predict new trends.

    The most shocking roles that this unit fulfilled was appointing individuals to operate as copycat covers of the Ottoman sultan and Sheikh-ul-Islam (Grand Mufti), as well as the Safavid ruler, grand vezir and the Shiite spiritual leaders. According to Hempher’s account, these individuals were specially trained the disguised to represent these personalities. Together with their advisers and scribes, they would collect information on their assigned districts.

    In his memoirs, Hempher stated that these units were able to correctly predict the trends and reflexes in the Muslim world seventy-five percent of the time.

    While in the city of Najaf, Hempher posed as a student of knowledge. In one particular instance, he recalled encountering one of these copycat spies, who was posing as a Shiite religious scholar, but at that time Hempher was not aware that the scholar was actually a spy like himself.

    Hempher asked the fake scholar if it was permissible to rebel against a Sunni regime. The scholar replied saying that it was not justified to rebel against a government just because it was Sunni, that all Muslims were brothers and that it would only ever be permissible if the Sunni establishment was subjecting the Muslims to oppression and cruelty within the boundaries of ordaining the good and forbidding the evil.

    Hempher was stunned when he found out that the fake scholar was actually a spy, as he himself was so convinced that he was actually speaking with a Shiite scholar. At the same time he felt proud of the other spy for pulling off such a great act.

    Despite all of this, Hempher still could not contain admitting his admiration for the Qur’an and the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) at certain points in his memoirs.


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    VIDEO: Short film depicts modern day example of Balfour Declaration aftermath

    The Palestine Return Center have produced a short film entitled “100 Balfour Road” in remembrance of the suffering, displacement and deaths of thousands of Palestinian lives caused by the Balfour Declaration a century ago.

    “100 Balfour Road” is available in 17 different languages: English, Arabic. Spanish, Danish, Dutch, Swedish, Polish, Italian, Turkish, Hindi, Urdu, Farsi, Chinese, Russian and Indonesian.

    The Balfour Apology Campaign are on their fifth year of working towards getting the British government to apologise for their role in the Balfour Declaration of 1917 which led to the death and displacement of millions Palestinians.

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    Why Were These Indian Muslims Executed by the British During WW1?

    The 5th Light Infantry Regiment of the Indian Army from Madras were stationed in Singapore, they had been sent there to replace the Yorkshire Light Infantry. It consisted of Muslims who were mainly Rajputs and Pathans.

    World War 1 was officially under way and The Ottoman Empire had entered the war siding with their German allies. Sultan Mehmet V called on Muslims around the world to take up arms against the British Empire and its allies. This was significant as the Sultan was considered by Muslims all around their world as their leader though half of the world’s Muslims lived under British, French or Russian rule. The Sultan was the head of the caliphate, a system of Islamic governance which began after the demise of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) and ended with the fall of the Ottoman empire. A recent declaration by militants in Iraq and Syria of a caliphate has been rejected by Muslims worldwide.

    Not long after the Indian regiment’s arrival to Singapore, an announcement was made that they were to be sent to Hong Kong. Rumours spread that, rather, they would be sent to fight fellow Muslims and against the Ottoman Empire. Whether or not they were to be sent to Hong Kong remains unclear.

    On 15th February 1915, 800 Indian Muslims turned against their British colonial masters, killing around 40 British officers and seizing ammunition. Singapore was left practically defenseless with most of the Singapore Volunteer Corps on leave because to the Chinese New Year holidays. The rebels marched through Singapore laying siege to the bungalow of the regiment’s commanding officer.

    Two days later, allied warships arrived after British pleas for help, the rebels put up a fight but were eventually overwhelmed. Many died in battle, many surrendered and the remainder fled into the jungle. By 22nd February, the mutiny, which would later come to be known as The Singapore Mutiny, was over.

    47 mutineers were later executed by public firing squad in front of an audience of thousands, in Outram Jail. 73 more were given long prison sentences.

    Facing certain death or imprisonment, these Indians risked everything to escape fighting a war they didn’t believe in for colonialists which had occupied their native India for many years. Though there were other cases of rebellion, approximately 1.3 million Indian soldiers served in World War One for the British Empire. Many were used in campaigns against the Ottoman empire which involved capturing regions such as Palestine and Syria.


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    Build a museum that educates people on British Empire's murderous rule over India, says acclaimed author

    Britain reduced it 'over two centuries of looting and exploitation, one of the poorest, most diseased and most illiterate countries on Earth,' says Sashi Tharoor

    A world-renowned author is calling for museums in London and India to demonstrate Britain's role in reducing the country to one of the "poorest, illiterate and diseased places on earth".

    Shashi Tharoor wants and “enduring reminder” to educate school children about how the British Empire killed millions, created famine and orchestrated a “divide and rule” campaign.

    In an article for Al Jazeera, he said that India was one of the world’s richest countries before British rule, producing 27 per cent of the world's gross domestic product in 1700.

    Britain reduced it “over two centuries of looting and exploitation, one of the poorest, most diseased and most illiterate countries on Earth,” added the 61-year-old MP, who chairs the Indian parliament’s foreign affairs committee.

    “An enduring reminder is needed, both for Indian schoolchildren to educate themselves and for British tourists to visit for their own enlightenment,” he said. “As I say to young Indians: if you don't know where you have come from, how will you appreciate where you are going?”

    The London-born author notes that there is no museum devoted to Britain’s imperial conquest in India.

    So the former United Nations secretary asked for the Victoria Memorial in Kolkata to be converted into a museum remembering the British Raj atrocities.

    Among the incidents that need documenting are the Amritsar massacre, which saw colonial soldiers kill between 379 and 1,000 people who were peacefully protesting against British rule.

    Another 1,100 were injured in just 10 minutes, under the orders of Brigadier Reginald Dyer, who was later lauded a hero by the British public, which raised £26,000 for him as a thank you.

    Mr Tharoor added that there was also no memorial for "the deaths of 35 million Indians in totally unnecessary famines caused by British policy, or the 'divide and rule' policy that culminated in the horrors of Partition in 1947 when the British made their shambolic and tragic Brexit from the subcontinent."

    He said the "lack of such a museum is striking.”

    Between 12 and 29 million Indians died of starvation during British rule.

    Mr Tharoor also claimed that the Indian railway was a “colonial scam” designed to reap further British benefits.

    “And at the end of it all, they went home to enjoy their retirements in damp little cottages with Indian names,” he added.

    He also wrote how homosexuality is outlawed in India only because Britain suppressed the country’s ancient Hindu texts, which he believes were more liberal.

    India, the world’s largest democracy, still allows Gay Pride marches in major cities however.

    A YouGov poll last year found 44 per cent were proud of the British Empire and 43 per cent believed it a “good thing”.

    The empire governed a fifth of the world’s population at its height in 1922.

    Video: Five of the worst atrocities carried out by the British Empire

    Map: Longest Reigning Monarchs in Britain



    Why do archive files on Britain’s colonial past keep going missing?

    Around 1,000 files have disappeared while ‘on loan’ to the government.
    This sort of accident is happening too often for comfort

    The National Archives are home to more than 11m documents, many of them covering the most disturbing periods of Britain’s colonial past. The uncomfortable truths revealed in previously classified government files have proved invaluable to those seeking to understand this country’s history or to expose past injustices.

    It is deeply concerning, therefore, to discover that about 1,000 files have gone missing after being removed by civil servants. Officially, the archives describe them as “misplaced while on loan to a government department”.

    The files, each containing dozens of pages, cover subjects such as the Troubles in Northern Ireland, the British colonial administration in Palestine, tests on polio vaccines and territorial disputes between the UK and Argentina. It is unclear whether duplicates exist.

    The loss of so many documents of such significance has understandably caused concern among historians, politicians and human rights groups. Amnesty International has called on Theresa May to order an urgent government-wide search for the documents, while Labour MP Jon Trickett has warned that the loss “will only fuel accusations of a cover-up”.

    Such suggestions may seem far-fetched, but recent history has given many people reason to be suspicious. Documents in the National Archives have previously been key in revealing human rights abuses by the British state.

    In 2014, for instance, investigators from the Irish broadcaster RTÉ uncovered a 1977 letter from the then home secretary, Merlyn Rees, to the prime minister of the day, James Callaghan, in which Rees claimed that ministers had given permission for torture to be used in Northern Ireland during the Troubles. The information had reportedly been withheld from the European court of human rights.

    Also in 2014, the government was accused of a cover-up after it said it could not release information about the CIA’s “extraordinary rendition” programme because the files had suffered “water damage” .

    In 2013, meanwhile, the Guardian revealed that more than 1m documents that should have been declassified were instead being unlawfully kept at a high-security compound in Buckinghamshire. Their existence only came to light when a group of elderly Kenyans took the government to the high court, claiming they had been tortured during the 1950s Mau Mau rebellion. The Foreign Office was forced to admit it had withheld thousands of colonial-era papers.

    Even if the files that have now been reported missing vanished as a result of sloppiness or incompetence rather than malice, that is in a way no less damning. Britain has long failed to acknowledge the horrors that its colonialism and imperialism have wrought on the world.

    Many Britons have grown up believing their homeland saved and civilised the world, while atrocities, genocide and human rights abuses often go unmentioned. Successive governments have failed to narrow this knowledge gap, whether by setting up truth commissions, establishing a museum of colonialism or teaching schoolchildren about colonialism as part of the standard curriculum.

    In 2014, a YouGov poll found that 59% of those surveyed thought the British empire was more something to be proud of than ashamed of.

    The loss of these documents provides an apt metaphor for what colonialism means to many in Britain. Embarrassing facts are neatly filed away, labelled as “the past”, and on the rare occasions that the archives are inspected, damning evidence is nowhere to be seen.


  9. #9
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    Jan 2007


    Germany: Confronting the colonial roots of racism

    Surviving Herero after their escape through the Omaheke desert in German South-West Africa (modern day Namibia), 1907 [Sam Cohen Library/Colonial Picture Archive, University Library of Frankfurt]

    Berlin, Germany - Mnyaka Sururu Mboro walks through Wedding, a district in the northwest of Berlin, with an expression of disdain. "It makes my stomach turn every time I go down these streets," he says.

    He is in the African Quarter, so-called because the streets have been named in commemoration of Germany's imperial leaders and conquests from the end of the 19th century.

    One street, Peters Allee, has a particularly negative effect on Tanzanian-born Mboro. It was first named so after Carl Peters, the founder of Germany's colony in East Africa, and a man glorified by the Nazis. For Mboro, who has been living in Germany since the 1970s after arriving on a scholarship, it represents a period of violence and oppression for his family and motherland.

    "As a child growing up in Kilimanjaro, I would often sit outside with my grandmother at night and listen to her tell fairy tales," Mboro recalls. "One night she told me to look at the moon, which was full that night. After some minutes she asked if I could see the shadow on it. Doesn't it look like a person, she said. I looked again.

    "That, she said, is a German man called Carl Peters. He was the governor of the Kilimanjaro area and we used to call him Mkono Wa Damu - bloody hands."

    Germany's colonial history

    Little is known in mainstream German society about figures such as Carl Peters, or the nation's role as a coloniser between the 1880s and the early 20th century. Sociologist Serpil Polat says the topic has remained on the margins of analysis.

    "Colonisation has not been the focus of the nation's narrative," Polat, who works at a migration academy linked to Berlin's Jewish Museum, explains. "On the one side, there is a lack of knowledge and if it is talked about, we have a sense of nostalgia mixed with the thinking that what Germany did wasn't as bad as other European colonisers. So a critical approach hasn't really happened so far."

    However, recent developments in mainstream and civil society suggest that Germany's understanding of its colonial history may be evolving.

    Much of the pressure is coming from a strong anticolonial grassroots movement, including people like Mboro, who have been raising awareness around the issue and campaigning to have the streets in the African Quarter renamed.

    Berlin has addressed some of the issues around the renaming of the streets. In the 1980s, Berlin declared that Peters Allee would be named after Hans Peters, an anti-Nazi hero. But activists and campaigners say the city hasn't gone far enough. As the street is still called Peters, the association with Carl Peters remains strong, they say.

    Alongside this, the prominent Deutsche Historische Museum in Berlin recently hosted its first large-scale exhibition on German colonisation and is planning a permanent exhibition in the next few years. Outside the capital, Hamburg University set up a research centre two years ago to examine the port city's colonial legacy, mapping the cityscape and the buildings from that era.

    Internationally, descendants of Namibians killed during the colonial period are seeking reparations from Germany after it admitted to a genocide that took place in 1904. Germany is refusing to pay reparations and didn't attend the first hearing in the US in March. Namibian activists are now working towards a second hearing date in October.

    Imperial Germany

    Germany was an empire for about 30 years after its unification in 1871. But for at least three centuries before, German-speaking predecessor states and private business were profiting from colonial ventures, including the slave trade.

    Amid the European scramble for Africa, Germany established the colony of German East Africa - a region that included present-day Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi. It also governed German South West Africa, an area comprised of present-day Namibia, and Cameroon, Togo and Ghana. It only relinquished these territories after its military defeat in World War I.

    The stories of Germany's imperial violence are intertwined with these Berlin streets. Peters Allee, named in 1939 by the Nazis, celebrates a man who subjected locals to forced labour, high taxes and exploitation.

    It's a story that 66-year-old Mboro knows well. During colonial rule, his paternal great grandfather was ordered to build a railway line.

    Fed up with the inhumane treatment, one day he and a few of his co-workers decided to burn their picks - sururus, in Swahili - to escape work. But they were caught. Mboro, whose middle name is Sururu, says: "My grandfather never met his father as he was killed by the Germans while his mother was pregnant. But he was named Sururu after him. I was never told how the Germans executed my great grandfather but I am very proud to have his name."

    In Tanzania, the Maji Maji war, an armed uprising against German rule, was brutally crushed. According to some estimates, 75,000 people were killed by the Germans over the course of two years.

    Mboro heads towards Swakopmunder Strasse, named after a town in western Namibia. It was in Namibia that Germany erected its first concentration camps.

    In 1904, the local Herero and Nama people rose up against German rule and, during four years of fighting, a reported 65,000 Herero people and 10,000 Nama people were killed or starved to death in the camps. It was the first genocide of the 20th century, the tribes of Namibia insist.

    The streets all meet at one main square, Nachtigalplatz, named after Gustav Nachtigal, the founder of Germany's West Africa colony.

    Germany's identity problem

    What's emerging as the topic of colonisation enters the national psyche is a debate around what it means to be German.

    The country's post-war identity has been built around the rejection of Nazism. But more and more, activists and historians are finding evidence that links the Third Reich to the German Empire that preceded it.

    They now argue that German society cannot fully reject the racist ideology of the Nazis without looking at its colonial roots.

    Historian Jurgen Zimmerer heads the post-colonial research centre at Hamburg University.

    He explains: "Germany has more or less settled into an understanding that you can't justify the Nazis and what they did, so now the debate is, was this an exception within a good German history, or is it a continuation of German history prior to 1933? Pointing to colonial violence, colonial crimes and human rights violations of the Herero people is a strong argument.

    "The Nazis didn't fall out of the sky, there is a deeper racist, xenophobic mindset in German history."

    In his 2005 Yale University paper From Africa to Auschwitz, US historian Benjamin Madley outlines some of the links between the empire and the Third Reich.

    "Settlers and their advocates rationalised taking African land and wealth by claiming inherent German superiority and martial necessity," he wrote. "Then they supported these stories with force. It was the same simple, brutal logic Hitler employed in Eastern Europe when he wrote of the 'right to possess soil', German racial superiority and acquiring Lebensraum (living space) 'by the sword'."

    Berlin-based human rights activist Joshua Kwesi Aikins says: "We could say that Namibia, in important ways, foreshadowed what was to come at Auschwitz.

    "This can lead to very heated debates where some people have asked if I am comparing the genocide in Namibia with what the Nazis did. But to compare isn't the same as to equate and it's important to have the category of genocide to understand the depth of the violence," explains Aikins who is a political scientist at the University of Kassel.

    Other links between the Second and Third Reich include some individuals, such as the father of senior Nazi leader Hermann Goering, Heinrich, who was the first governor of colonial Namibia.
    Where next?

    Activists say the time has come for the nation to face up to its colonial crimes.

    "In German discussions, racism is often limited to intentional, individual acts which you can then morally condemn," Aikins says.
    "But during colonialism, Germans were offered the idea that they were white people, that they were superior people, that they were born to rule. Racism has a colonial tradition in Germany, and to limit it conceptually to national socialism means that you are unable to actually address the depths of it."

    For Mboro, it's the reality he sees every time he returns to Tanzania that make it an important issue today.
    "We know the reasons why Tanzania is in poverty. Germany wants to keep this topic under its hat because they only want to show one side of what happened. But history has happened, and it cannot be changed."



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