The Caribbean case for Reparations from Britain

Reparations: a case for settlement

A Rastafarian man holds up a cardboard placard calling for reparations during a demonstration as Britain's Prince Harry visited the non-governmental organisation RISE in Kingston on March 6, 2012. - AP
[A Rastafarian man holds up a cardboard placard calling for reparations during a demonstration as Britain’s Prince Harry visited the non-governmental organisation RISE in Kingston on March 6, 2012. – AP]

Courtenay Barnett, Guest Columnist, The Gleaner (Jamaica, West Indies), Sunday, June 30, 2013

This month, Her Majesty’s Government (HMG) was required to pay 19.9 million pounds in compensation to some 5,000 elderly Kenyans who were tortured and abused during the Mau Mau uprising in the 1950s. This case bears lessons for the Caribbean and it also has much to teach about the true nature of the British Empire.

The British imposed themselves in Kenya and confiscated land. In 1948, a quarter-million Kenyans were confined to 2,000 square miles, while 30,000 English settlers lived on 12,000 square miles of the most fertile lands in Kenya. Africans under an apartheid and colonial policy were forbidden to enter certain areas and confined away from the most arable land.

Not surprisingly, the Kenyans rebelled and started a violent campaign against the white settlers in 1952. The colonialists responded, and the Kenya Human Rights Commission estimated that 90,000 Kenyans were executed, tortured or maimed. There was the use of literal concentration camps as a nationwide network of detention for some 160,000 who were detained in the most appalling conditions.

TORTURED

President Obama’s grandfather, Hussein Onyango Obama, happened to be one of those detained persons. He had pins placed into his fingernails and in his buttocks and his testicles were squeezed between metal rods. Other Kenyans were forcibly relocated in new villages. Within the camps, the British inflicted beatings, castrated, raped and performed other forms of sexual abuse and torture applying brutal interrogation techniques against the Kenyans.

It was against this background that elderly Kenyans who had suffered abuse when detained filed a claim in the English High Court. Two of the original five claimants had been castrated and an African lady who had been raped was included in the claim. Continue reading

Kenya: In response to the culture of male violence, a village of women

A Women-Only Village Fenced Off From Kenya's Culture Of Male Violence

A Women-Only Village Fenced Off From Kenya’s Culture Of Male Violence

By Simone Kosog, SUDDEUTSCHE ZEITUNG/Worldcrunch

UMOJA – In a wooden hut in Archer’s Post, a small settlement in Kenya, three men of the Samburu tribe are drinking tea. The eldest is wrapped in a red-and-white checked cloth; the other two wear shirts and jeans. Nothing much going on, so they are happy to talk.

Question: Why should only men have rights? “Because it’s our tradition. Women are like children; they need to be trained. When they’re untrained, you have to beat them to discipline them.”

There are women who rule entire countries. Are they also children? “These women all have husbands who tell them what to do.” What if a woman beats a man? “Then you have to kill her. If I don’t have my stick, I’ll use my knife.“

Less than two kilometers from here is Umoja, a village of only women. If you want an idea of what it cost the women to build their own separate world, and why they are so happy with the hard lives they live there, you only have to sit down and listen to the kinds of things Wilson, Barasi and Douglas, in the year 2012, say as they drink tea at Archer’s Post. Continue reading

US demands that Kenya submit to ICC

[The USA, which has refused to join the International Criminal Court or otherwise submit to international judicial accountability, nevertheless demands that other countries submit to the authority of the ICC.  And the ICC has this year been making arrangements for the US military (i.e., AFRICOM) to enforce ICC subpoenas and warrants for the arrest of Africans.  This article expresses this arrogant and imperialist double standard.  We post this article only because it is revealing of international power relations and the political relativity of judicial standards. — Frontlines ed.]

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The Nation (Nairobi)

Kenya: U.S. Urges Country to Cooperate Fully With ICC

by Kevin J Kelley

23 January 2012

The Obama administration has called for “accountability on the 2007-2008 post-election violence” following the confirmation of charges of four Kenyans by the International Criminal Court (ICC).

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland urged the Kenyan government, the people of Kenya and the four cited individuals to continue to cooperate fully with the ICC proceedings.

Ms Nuland said such cooperation would be consistent with the spirit of Kenya’s new constitution, which, she noted, “embraces transparency, accountability and integrity.”

The spokeswoman added in a statement issued in Washington on Monday that the United States stands ready to help Kenya implement the reform process as the nation looks ahead to its first elections under the new constitution.

“We make no judgment as to the guilt of innocence of those who are the subject of today’s confirmation decisions,” Ms Nuland declared. “Under the ICC process,” she noted, “individuals are presumed innocent until proven guilty.”

African-Chinese labor relations turn increasingly icy

Chinese and Tanzanian workers

Africa Review, 20 October 2010

Janet Otieno, Johnstone Ole Turana and Saudah Mayanja, Nairobi

Africa has been witnessing an influx of Chinese investors and labourers

Beijing has even gone an extra mile by opting for the softer approach of “not interfering in the continent’s political affairs” to justify its economic pursuits in Africa. But the Chinese stand accused of not being any better than Africa’s former colonial masters when it comes to their labour practices.

Late last week, Chinese mine managers shot and wounded 11 of their employees in southern Zambia over a pay dispute, sparking a countrywide outrage in the southern African nation.

And this is not just the first incident in the country. A few months ago, local workers at a Chinese-owned copper mine went on strike demanding better working conditions. The strike turned into a riot with reports of a Chinese manager firing at the crowd and injuring people.

Complaints raised

More episodes on the continent capture the increasingly icy Afro-Chinese labour relations.

A year ago in Mozambique, an argument broke out between a provincial governor, Mr Mauricio Vieira and the China Henan International Cooperation Group (CHICO). After winning a contract to build a new water supply system to service the capital Maputo and other surrounding towns, the firm had barely began work than complaints from local workers about poor treatment at the hands of the Chinese bosses surfaced. Continue reading