Friday, October 5, 2012

Mau Mau veterans win historic victory

I had to take a few minutes to write about the three Kenyans, Mau Mau veterans who won a historic victory today as a British judge gave them the right to sue the British government for atrocities and torture suffered under British rule.  The Judge trying the case rejected the government's claim that the three claimants should be suing the Kenyan government as it had inherited Britain's legal responsibilities on independence in 1963. Talk about chutzpah.

The Mau Mau uprising was one of the major factors that ended direct British control of the country.  The Mau Mau were mainly Kikuyi people whose land was taken from them by European settlers. The result was a landless people, unemployed and with little means of survival.  The African's whose land it was, had no rights and were forced to work on their own land as laborers for foreign farmers.

Thousands of Mau Mau were tortured, hanged or re-settled as as many as 70,000 were rounded up by the British especially under Operation Anvil. During the colonial uprising, the, "British would not admit that this was a war; they would not even admit it was a rebellion, fearing to do so might imply that the Mau Mau fighters had rights under international conventions."  *

Doesn't this sound familiar?  The butchers in the Pentagon call those that resist any form of domination by the superpower, "Enemy Combatants".
The British settlers in Kenya were a particularly brutal bunch as Anderson explains in his account of the efforts of Kenyans to drive the occupiers out. It was a "colony for gentlemen, not for artisans or the white working class" he writes, "....products of English public schools and universities....Old Etonians".  Eton, like Harrow, are the feeder schools for universities like Oxford and Cambridge where the British bourgeois and their foreign stooges educate their children, the future leaders of their respective realms.

There are an estimated 5000 remaining survivors of British torture in Kenya and this decision could well invite such suits from victims of colonial brutality throughout the former empire.  The book quoted here I am about finished with and it is a bit of a coincidence I am reading it as this ruling is announced.  I recall as a young kid hearing about the Mau Mau on the radio and the atrocities they were committing against "white" farmers.  This uprising was violent and many Kenyans, many Kikuyu were also killed by the Mau Mau as collaborators and sympathizers with the government.   Naturally, it was British colonial history I was getting.  The occupation of Kenya or British East Africa as the region was once known is very similar to the occupation of Ireland which preceded it by a few hundred years.  The same land appropriation, divisive tactics, except tribal in one case, religion in the other.

It is interesting to note that there are never US or British generals or political figures dragged in to the world court to face charges of "Crimes Against Humanity".  The US recently called openly for the death of Moumar Gaddhafi and got their way.  Gaddhafi was what we call "small potatoes" compared to Cheney, Rumsfeld, Bush and Blair to name a few. Kissinger, a mass murder par excellence is a free man.

One of the reasons of course is the US government is not a signatory to the World Court. Bush, and Clinton before him were concerned that the treaty could lead to politically-motivated prosecution of U.S. government leaders or military personnel. The court has been ratified by 114 countries - but not by the US. Well of course it could, but the US wants to reserve the right to kill and not be judged for its actions just like the British did throughout their colonies.  US capitalism never prosecutes, assassinates, murders individuals or bombs countries for political reasons does it?

While this is a victory for those who suffered under British rule, it does not end imperialist domination of former colonial countries and the plunder of their natural resources.  Only the ending of capitalism and the introduction of a world federation of democratic socialist states will accomplish that. 

The British Guardian reports on it here

* Quoted from Histories of the Hanged,  The Dirty War in Kenya and the End of Empire

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