Just some vile British war crimes the UK doesn’t want you to know

This image has been removed for legal reasons.

Last month The Guardian reported that the British Foreign Office, which heads the UK’s international affairs, destroyed nearly 200 files in what many see as a cover-up. The files detailed Britain’s involvement in Sri Lanka’s domestic political upheaval before the brutal 26-year civil war that ended in 2009 and left a predicted 80,000 to 100,000 civilians dead. But destroying records that could incriminate or at least upset the Crown is not particularly new. In fact, it’s sort of a British national pastime.

The UK Security Service (known as MI5) and Special Air Service (SAS) have secretly advised the Sri Lankan government on how to handle the uprising of the the militant separatist organization Tigers for the Liberation of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and the Foreign Ministry destroyed 195 files detailing the training of Sri Lankan forces by the Services from 1978 to 1980, the years leading up to the start of the war. What if the British were possible financing of war crimes in Sri Lanka Towards the end of the war in 2008, it is difficult to imagine that their involvement before the war was a humanitarian effort. But now, as in so many colonialist rewrites of history, whether in the UK or America, or any country with a shameful past, we may never know for sure.

By law, these files should have been turned over to the Public Records Office and made available, but when asked what happened to them, not only did the Foreign Office refuse to disclose when, where, and how exactly the files went. been destroyed, but claimed they were not “necessary to preserveThe documents, specifying that they can be “of a political nature but also administrative or ephemeral”.

It is, as the British would say, total poppycock. The British are not removing crucial information about how they contributed to the murderous civil war of a former colony riddled with alleged human rights violations, such as huge numbers of civilian deaths, the bombing of “Safe zones”, extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, and recruitment of children, among others because the information was either boring or insignificant. They hide and erase these truths in a desperate attempt to flee the guilt for what they have done and preemptively absolve themselves of the British deadly sin of, what else, “embarrassment.”

You see, this is not the first time that the Foreign Office has been caught hiding and / or destroying evidence of their bewildering roles in Imperial violence. In fact, it was the policy. In 1961, Iain Macleod, then Secretary of State for the Colonies, issued a memo advising the Foreign Office to “migrate” files on former colonies that gained independence from Britain. The migration criteria included things this:

“A) could embarrass HMG (Her Majesty’s Government in Great Britain) or other governments; b) could embarrass members of the police, military forces, government officials or others, such as police informants; c) could compromise sources of intelligence information; d) could be used unethically by ministers of the successor government.

Considering the fact that the brutal subjugation and division of countless largely brown and black people is a considerable embarrassment, there was a lot to cover, and documents from 37 former colonies and protectorates were returned to the UK. In 2013, it was discovered that the Foreign Office had secretly and illegally concealed over a million files spanning several decades, presumably an extension of the Macleod directive.

So what are some of the things the UK Foreign Office didn’t want the rest of the world to know they had done?

And this is only from a few of the hundreds of thousands of files that have been kept secret. It should be noted that although the British employed barbaric violence, especially when it came to British Malay, this force was accompanied by a less violent but equally imperialist approach to counterinsurgency. And let’s not forget that the British have a well-documented history of war crimes that weren’t necessarily hidden in the giant treasure, including forced relocations and creation of concentration camps in South Africa during the Second Boer War as well as numerous crimes committed during the two world wars.

For the Foreign Office, going this far to avoid “embarrassment” and maintain a veneer of decency when its empire is based on expansive brutalization is really twisted. Not all files in the vault have to describe a mass murder for it to be a staple as the former colonies attempt to piece together their stories, but the British are unlikely to think about it. And the FO managed to keep other documents on Singapore, northern Cameroon (now a region of Nigeria) and “1950 file on “indoctrination of Malaysian Chinese” traveling to China”Sealed for at least another decade!

Rewriting history in your favor is not just a British problem. This is of course one of the characteristics of imperialism, just like the American attempt to wipe out the invasion and the genocide of the First Nations peoples, the massacre of thousands of Filipinos including children, and that all The lost cause of the south, among others.

Yet for the UK to deny nations that have been manipulated by British colonial forces crucial information about their own past, under the guise of saving an old lady in a giant palace surrounded by embarrassment of corgis – well, that’s very British, isn’t it.

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