Thursday, March 20, 2014

Justice for Batang Kali?

In the dying days of the British Empire, British soldiers murdered 24 unarmed villagers in Batang Kali. Subsequent governments methodically covered up the crime. Now, the UK Court of Appeal has finally opened the door to a proper investigation:

Relatives of unarmed rubber plantation workers killed by British troops in Malaysia said on Wednesday they would appeal to the supreme court after three senior UK judges said they had "forged the first link in the chain" in their campaign for an independent inquiry into the massacre.

The appeal court ruled that precedence forced them to dismiss their case. However, Lord Justices Maurice Kay, Rimer, and Fulford, in effect invited the Malaysian families to pursue their case in Britain's highest court. They added that it was probable that their case would succeed in the European human rights court in Strasbourg.

The judges described initial British investigations into what is known as the massacre of Batang Kali in December 1948 as woefully inadequate.

So, a long way to go yet, but the British government will almost certainly be forced to investigate, just as they were over their war crime sin Iraq. Meanwhile, what does it say about a government that it resists well-founded demands for such investigations? Is protecting the reputation of a dead empire really more important than justice?