Monday, May 07, 2012

Scotland's My Lai Massacre?

It has been dubbed “Britain’s My Lai massacre” a reference to the infamous murders by US forces in Vietnam.

The 16-man patrol of  the 7th Platoon, G Company of the 2nd Scots Guards, on 12 December 1948 were conducting military operations to combat the post-Second World War Communist insurgency of the Malayan Emergency. Soldiers surrounded the rubber estate at Sungai Rimoh in Batang Kali and shot dead 24 unarmed villagers before setting light to the village. The bodies of several  villagers were reportedly mutilated.

"So cruel those British,"
Foo Moi keeps repeating, "so cruel." An eyewitness, now aged 89

The British then introduced an extraordinary retrospective "licence to kill" law interpreted by lawyers as a clumsy bid to render legalise the killings that had already occurred. .

The colonial Attorney General who exonerated the British troops of any wrongdoing at the time privately believed that mass public executions might deter other insurgents.

Former defence secretary Denis Healey instructed Scotland Yard to set up a task team to investigate the matter while Labour was in power, but an incoming Conservative government dropped it in 1970 due to an ostensible lack of evidence. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has argued it cannot be held legally liable and that legal responsibility was transferred upon independence in 1963. On January 30, 2009, the Foreign Office in Britain rejected a call for an inquiry into the massacre of villagers. The UK government’s refusal to hold a formal investigation into the killings is being challenged during a two-day judicial review hearing.

Although the Emergency was a war, it was never officially called one out of regard for the London insurance market that the Malayan economy depended upon for cover. Insurance rates covered losses of stocks and equipment through riot and civil disobedience in an "emergency".

1 comment:

ajohnstone said...

"The men were relaxing after a hard day tapping trees, the women chopping wood to prepare dinner, when the soldiers swooped on the isolated rubber estate of Sugai Rimoh near the Batang Kali river...the soldiers had been briefed to carry out the massacre before they went out on patrol. So calculated were the killings that on the second day anyone too squeamish to continue was told they could “fall out” by one of the sergeants. No-one did, although two soldiers opted for the job of guarding the lorry packed with the women and children...the men and women were shepherded into separate huts for interrogation, which included mock executions. The first villager to be killed, who came under suspicion for possessing a permit for picking fruit, was shot in the back within the hour. The rest were locked up overnight. After the women and children had been loaded on to a truck and driven to the gates in the early morning, the men were led off in small groups to be shot...At least one of them had been decapitated...
... no-one has ever been held accountable for what happened at Batang Kali. There has been no court martial, no apology...The relatives are not asking for the surviving Scots Guards, now in their eighties and nineties, to be prosecuted...The relatives are calling for a public inquiry which might pave the way for compensation claims... “But governments are capable long after the events of this seriousness to investigate them, reach conclusions, apologise, do the right thing – and that’s exactly what should happen here.”

“In 1970, most of the members of this patrol, in the presence of solicitors without any coercion, without any incentive, with very serious consequences for them personally, confessed to mass murder – yet nothing was ever done about it,”