UK colonial atrocities in Kenya linked to current torture in Bahrain
The British government is finally being forced to reveal the atrocities its predecessors committed during the Mau Mau war in Kenya in the 1950s.
The High Court in London launched proceedings to investigate a case brought up by four Kenyans who claimed they are victims of torture and assault at the hands of British colonial authorities during the Mau Mau uprising between 1952 and 1961.
Three men and one woman, in their 70s and 80s have come a distance 4,000 kilometers to give witness in the High Court in a session being held to unveil one of the black chapters in the British colonial history.
They have finally succeeded in forcing the British government to release documents, which reveal the true horror of atrocities which the UK colonial system committed against the revolutionaries during the Mau Mau uprising in Kenya in the 1950s and 60s.
Previously hidden documents contain 2,000 boxes of papers of which 300 are related to Kenya and of those 30 are directly relevant to the Mau Mau war of independence.
The papers show how much British colonial officers have been involved in employing the most cruel torture techniques against the Kenyans including beating and roasting the revolutionaries alive as well as severe sexual assaults and castration which they used as common and routine torture techniques.
Not all the revelations are new. The extensive torture and killing of Mau Mau fighters and detainees was documented by two historians, Caroline Elkins from Harvard and Oxford University’s David Lee Anderson in their 2005 books, Britain’s Gulag and Histories of the Hanged.
Prof Elkins’ book in particular gives a vivid account of the shocking crimes committed by the British, which, ironically, came only seven years after the end of the Second World War in which the British and their allies set out to end the torture and mass killings in Nazi Germany and occupied countries.
Prof Elkins says: “Hundreds of thousands were detained in squalid camps fenced off with barbed wire and subjected to horrific torture.”
The torture of some was as much psychological as it was physical. In one passage, Prof Elkins quotes a witness recalling the result of a colonial soldiers’ sweep through their village.
“At one point the villagers were ordered to remove every article of clothing and remain stark naked. You cannot start to imagine the shame and embarrassment we felt when … we were told to arrange ourselves in two rows, one for the men and the other for the women, old and young alike. To everyone’s horror we were ordered at gunpoint to embrace each other, man with a woman, regardless of whether the man happened to be your father, father-in-law or brother. It was all so humiliating that one woman hanged herself later, as she felt that she could not continue to live with the humiliating experience of having been forced to embrace her son-in-law while both of them were naked. In (Kikuyu) custom that is a curse.”
Now, five decades after these wicked and shameful incidents happened in Kenya, an infamous name from among mountains of documents is catching the eyes of Bahraini revolutionaries whom, themselves, have been victimized by his inhumane and vile measures.
Ian Henderson who served as the British Colonial Officer in Kenya, and was nicknamed “torturer in chief” in the African country moved to Bahrain in the late 1960s and acted as the country’s security chief for some 30 years.
Henderson established one of the most notorious security systems in Bahrain, by which thousands of activists have allegedly been detained and tortured in the most brutal ways.
George Galloway, the former British parliamentarian has described Henderson’s cooperation with al-Khalifa regime in Bahrain as follows.
“Henderson had gathered around him the kind of British dogs of war and mercenaries whose guns and electric shock equipment were for hire to anyone who will pay the price”, he said.
At the same time that the High Court in London investigates the case brought up by the Kenyan victims, Bahraini revolutionaries’ efforts to bring Henderson to justice have so far led to nowhere.
This is while Queen Elizabeth has honored the butcher of Bahrain and the Kenyan torturer-in-chief with the Knight medal as well as the Commander of the Order of the British Empire.
Now, the question remains whether these four old Kenyan nationals will be able to achieve their rights while British politicians “only” claim that they are supporting human rights? The question will be answered in future.