Great news from London, that a landmark court case by elderly Kenyan freedom fighters has now forced the Foreign Office to confess that they have suddenly “found” what are described as “around 8,800 files relating to 37 former British administrations — including those in Palestine, Cyprus, Malaya, Nigeria and Northern Rhodesia”, dating back to the 1950s and 1960s, and that “most of them” will be made public.
(If “Palestine” is among them, that means they must include the 1940s, too, no?)
Hat-tip to Laleh Khalili, by the way. Over on Facebook one of Laleh’s other commenters and I both identified this as a sort of time-warped Wikileaks trove.
That article by AP says,
- Foreign Office minister David Howell said the search for the Mau Mau documents had uncovered around 2,000 boxes of files from the 1950s and 1960s which the office has “decided to regularize.”
Howell said in a statement to lawmakers in Britain’s upper house on Tuesday that although colonial administrators left behind most of their papers after independence, they took certain files “not appropriate to hand onto the successor government” back to Britain.
I don’t like that word “regularize”. It smacks to me of “sanitizing.”
The article includes this:
- The British government will face its first test on whether these new files can be used against it on Thursday, when the four Kenyans — Ndiku Mutua, Paulo Nzili, Wambugu Wa Nyingi and Jane Muthoni Mara — will argue that they were severely beaten and tortured by officers on behalf of the British government trying to suppress the Mau Mau uprising. Two of them have claimed they were castrated.
The Kenya Human Rights Commission believes 90,000 Kenyans were executed, tortured or maimed during the crackdown against the Mau Mau and 160,000 were detained in appalling conditions. Among those detained was President Barack Obama’s grandfather, Hussein Onyango Obama.
All sides declined to reveal detailed contents of the papers ahead of the court case Thursday, but [Oxford University historian David] Anderson said the documents may show evidence that people in all parts of the British government knew that captured Mau Mau fighters were being tortured.
“I’ve heard British officials say that all the abuse was carried out by junior officials, a few bad apples,” said Anderson, whose book “Histories of the Hanged: Britain’s Dirty War in Kenya and the end of Empire” investigates the Mau Mau uprising.
“These documents are critical — we must hope they will reveal who did or did not know about what was going on.”