Legacy of Colonialism

In 2013 the PFC and Bloody Sunday Trust organised a two day international conference titled Poisonous Legacies-Otro Mundo es posible. We invited speakers from around the world to reflect on the poisonous legacy of colonialism.

Article on Batang Kali

Since then we have also organised visits to the imperial War Museum in London to look at how Britain’s leading museum of imperial history doesn’t deal with the darker and more sinister history of atrocity, torture, countergangs and war crimes. As we wrote in the introduction to the 2013 conference,

History has taught us – and our own situation bears this out – that the end of conflict does not necessarily herald the beginning of peace. Here, and elsewhere in the world, where guns have fallen silent, communities remain bitterly divided over unresolved issues such as prosecution and amnesty, truth recovery, ‘official’ and ‘unofficial’ histories, memorials and commemoration, and proper acknowledgement of the roles of different actors in the conflict.

As outlined in Lethal Allies in the chapter, From Dhofar to Armagh, the links between British counter-insurgency strategies in Ireland and Kenya, Cyprus, Yemen and elsewhere are far from coincidental. The five torture techniques, which are once again in the headlines, were not used for the first time at the Ballykelly interrogation centre in 1971. The same methods had long been de rigour for British army interrogators elsewhere in the world. Likewise the recent revelations about waterboarding in Belfast in 1971. Decades earlier the British army had deployed waterboarding in Cyprus and elsewhere.. (see Ian Cobain –Cruel Britannia: a Secret History of Torture).

In 2017 the PFC intends to build up a pop-up exhibition on the legacy of colonialism. Where were the British army before they came on our streets in 1969. And crucially what were they doing?  Some, like the SAS, came directly from other brutal and largely hidden conflicts such as Dhofar. Others, such as the later GOC Timothy Creasley had fought the Mau Mau in Kenya. In recent years £….million has been paid out in compensation to victims of mass torture, rape and murder carried out by British soldiers in Kenya.

The plan is to have a travelling exhibition ready by early summer. Watch this space.      

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