Colonial records of crimes destroyed, hidden by British government
REUTERS PhotoRecords of crimes and acts of violence by British forces in the dying days of the country’s imperial era were systematically destroyed or hidden by the British government, The Guardian reported today.
The government's attempts came to light after a group of alleged torture victims from Kenya’s Mau Mau insurgency years was given permission by courts to sue the British government for compensation.
The ruling prompted the government to release nearly 9,000 files of colonial documentation that had been kept out of the public archives. The transfer of secret files to open access revealed the destruction of certain sensitive documents to spare "embarrassment" to the queen and "members of the police, military forces, public servants or others."
The documents come from a variety of places, including Kenya, Malaya, British Guiana and Aden, and outlined torture centers, violent acts by the colonial forces and even "purges." One of the now-destroyed files reportedly recorded the abuse of the Mau Mau insurgents and the death of 24 villagers in Malaya, allegedly at the hands of British forces.
The documents, if not destroyed in the entirety, were sometimes replaced by a “twin file." Other records even “permitted” the destruction of sensitive documents by fire or sinking them in weighted crates in "very deep and current-free water."
Some 1,200 files have so far been brought to public archives, The Guardian reported. All of the remaining documents are expected to arrive by the end of 2013.