Spectre of Batang Kali massacre flares up again

News from Malaysia: The Sun

KUALA LUMPUR (Nov 1, 2010): The family of the survivors of the 1948 Batang Kali massacre are renewing their battle for justice in light of the recent admission by the official historian at that time, Prof Anthony Short, that his account of the incident may have been wrong.

In a press conference held today, the counsels appointed to represent the families announced that they have sent a letter of demand to the British government on Sept 3 requesting a full apology and for an independent inquiry to be held to determine the appropriate compensation for the families of those who survived the tragedy.

“There has never been a thorough investigation of this matter. The British government has delayed this matter time and time again. It has requested until the end of November to make a decision on whether to accept or reject the letter of demand,” said counsel for the survivor’s kin in Malaysia, Firoz Hussein.

Prof Short’s about turn was highlighted in an article he wrote in this month’s issue of Asian Affairs Journal entitled The Malayan Emergency and the Batang Kali Incident.

In it, he said that due in part to the publication of Slaughter and Deception at Batang Kali by Ian Ward and Norma Miraflor last year, which tells the most complete account of the killings to date, the brief account that he wrote on the incident in 1975 “seems now to have been wrong”.

On Dec 12, 1948, 14 British troops from the Scots Guard shot dead 24 men in the rubbing-tapping village of Batang Kali, Selangor, before razing the village to the ground.

The troops had given statements that they had been ordered to kill the villagers extra judicially (illegal killing), but was later told to say that it was a mass escape attempt.

What followed was a decades-long fight to expose the truth of what happened that day and to seek reparation for the crimes committed.

In 1949, an official investigation by the Attorney-General of Malaya was carried out but concluded that the shooting was justified.

It was not until 1970 that another formal investigation was carried out after an English newspaper, The People, exposed the incident. However, a change in British government that same year caused investigations to come to a halt.

In 1993, the survivors sent a petition to Queen Elizabeth II for justice to be done, and lodged a police report in Bukit Aman.

However, in 1997, the police investigation was declared closed due to lack of evidence.

 

British historian admits Batang Kali slaughter, says Chinese associations

News from Malaysia: The Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 1 — The British official historian of the Malayan Emergency has withdrawn his official account of the Batang Kali massacre of 24 unarmed villagers by British troops in 1948, said the Federation of Chinese Associations Malaysia today.

In a November 2010 issue of the Asian Affairs journal, Professor Anthony Short wrote that his brief account of the Batang Kali incident “seems now to have been wrong”.

“Professor Anthony Short, writing in the November issue of the respected Asian Affairs journal, describes the British Army patrol’s mass killing of 24 unarmed Chinese plantation workers in December, 1948, as a ‘matter of dispute, recrimination, dishonesty, disgrace and disguise’,” Federation of Chinese Associations Malaysia Tan Sri Pheng Yih Huah told reporters today.

Short, also the author of ‘The Communist Insurrection in Malaya, 1948-1960’, wrote that eyewitness accounts of detonators exploding when the kongsis (traditional meeting halls) were burned may have been true, but could not have caused British soldiers to open fire as the torching of the village happened after the shootings.

“Likewise, burning bamboo explodes and can sound like rifle or automatic fire. But again, this could only have been a reason for the soldiers to open fire if it had happened first,” wrote Short in his article titled “The Malayan Emergency and the Batang Kali Incident” that was made available to reporters.

The 7th Platoon of the G Company, 2nd Scots Guards, reportedly surrounded a rubber estate at Sungai Rimoh, Batang Kali, and shot 24 Chinese civilians before setting fire to the village on December 12, 1948, at the start of a 12-year communist insurgency in former Malaya.

Official accounts describe the villagers, who were suspected guerrillas, being killed as they attempted a mass escape into the jungle, wrote Short.

However, the last Malaysian adult witness to the massacre called Tham Yong — who died in April this year — reportedly said that the soldiers had led the men out in the morning, after locking them overnight in a hut, and shot them in the back.

Following the killings, Yong reportedly found that many bodies had been mutilated with their heads hacked off and genitals smashed.

Short stressed that the families of the massacre’s victims should be given reparation, pointing out that the inquiry on the 1972 killings by British troops of 13 unarmed protesters on Northern Ireland’s Bloody Sunday cost nearly £200 million.

“Is there any reason why a fraction of that amount should not be given to the victims of historic misfortune in Malaysia?” wrote Short, who taught history at the University of Malaya for six years.

Short noted that the four-year research of former war correspondent Ian Ward and his wife Norma Miraflor that was documented in their book, “Slaughter and Deception at Batang Kali”,  resulted in a “proper account” of the stain on Britain’s military history.

“Thanks to their tenacity, we now have a proper account of a story that has been running for more than 60 years,” he wrote.

Lawyer for the victims’ families Firoz Hussein Ahmad Jamaluddin also noted that they were making progress in their journey to obtain justice from the British government that has, so far, not made any prosecutions or launched an official probe since two investigations in 1949 and 1970.

In January 2009, the British Foreign Office rejected a call for an inquiry citing the lack of new evidence. Three months later, however, Westminster was reportedly reconsidering the decision.

“I’m pleased to say we’ve gone further than in the past 62 years,” said Firoz Hussein today.

“They (British government) have told us that they need until the end of November this year to make a decision,” he added.

The lawyer said that a letter before claim had been submitted to Westminster on September 3 this year, asking for an official apology and a public inquiry to determine the amount of reparation for the victims’ surviving kin.

 

起訴英軍屠殺峇冬加里24居民‧華總:掌握2新證據

转载自:星洲互动网

方天興(右3)說,華總已成立代表團協助峇冬加里屠殺慘案的死者家屬爭取合理的賠償與明確的道歉。左起:菲立佐、郭義民、陳凱希;右起:陳耀星和蔡維衍。

(吉隆坡1日訊)針對起訴英國政府在馬來亞緊急時期屠殺峇冬加里24名居民,華總總會長丹斯里方天興表示,目前他們已掌握兩項最新的有力證據,並將擇日會晤英國駐大馬大使,為死者家屬爭取合理的賠償與明確的道歉。

他在新聞發佈會上說,這兩項證據分別是英國官方史學家安東尼索特教授發表的論文和英國《每日郵報》駐東南亞特派員和戰地前記者沃德和其夫人米拉芙撰寫的著作。

英史學家前記者著作佐證

“索特教授在其論文中提到在緊急時期英國士兵屠殺24名手無寸鐵的膠工是備受爭議、譴責、不實、恥辱以及掩飾的行為。

“而沃德和夫人米拉芙撰寫的《峇冬加里的屠殺與詐欺》,有描寫出當時英國士兵對當地居民的所作所為,其中包括不人道的殺害無辜居民。”

他說,英國政府62年來持續拒絕針對此案的死者家屬道歉與賠償的請願,如今有許多的文獻可以佐證,不容英國政府繼續掩蓋事實的真相。

郭義民:英政府拖延進度

另一方面,死者家屬的代表律師郭義民表示,英國政府從2008年開始一直不願針對此案作出最後決定,不斷拖延此案進度,導致他們無法採取進一步的行動。

“2008年1月第一次英國政府拒絕他們的請願,但隨後又收回了‘拒絕’的決定,反反復復,並要求我們提呈更多證據作為證明。”

他說,英國政府的最後決定將影響我們的下一步行動,因為倘若英方承認這個錯誤,那接下他們就可進入道歉賠償談判的階段。若不,他們將直接入稟英國法庭挑戰英國政府,以爭取應當的賠償。

隨時飛英代討公道

此外,方天興表示,華總做好準備並成立代表團,隨時飛往英國協助死者家屬追討應有的公道。出席者包括家屬代表律師菲立佐、華總總秘書蔡維衍、副總秘書陳耀星、代表團成員陳凱希。

方天興展示沃德和其夫人米拉芙撰寫的《峇冬加里的屠殺與詐欺》。左:陳凱希。

方天興要求英政府停止掩蓋屠殺膠工真相

转载自:中国报新闻网

 

(吉隆坡1日訊)華總總會長丹斯里方天興要求英國政府,結束掩蓋1948年英軍峇冬加里屠殺24名膠工的真相,華總將在近期內向英國駐馬最高專員署呈交備忘錄,要求道歉和賠償。

他說,英國政府在這62年來,持續斷然拒絕馬來亞緊急時期峇冬加里屠殺慘案死者家屬要求道歉與賠償的請願,不斷拖延揭露此事的真相。

“為此,工委會律師團已掌握充足證據還原峇冬加里慘案,證明這是一場屠殺,而非外界聲稱打死馬共成員。”

他說,工委會律師團也準備入稟法庭,華總代表團將見英國駐馬最高專員,以安排入稟法庭的程序。

方天興今日在追殺英軍屠殺罪行工委會針對“峇冬加里屠殺慘案”記者會上,發表談話。其他出席者為郭義民律師、費羅斯胡先律師、陳凱希、華總秘書蔡維衍、副總秘書陳耀星。

緊急時期英國官方史學家安東尼.索特(83歲)教授為2010年11月份的《英國皇家亞洲事務》刊物撰寫的論文,批評英軍于1948年12月屠殺24名膠工的行為,並認為那是一場屠殺。

受史學家承認

郭義民指出,安東尼.索特當年曾懷疑英軍當時在一夜間,打死24名馬共成員的新聞,他也是第一個承認峇冬加里案為一場屠殺的史學家。

“安東尼.索特發表的論文,是根據英國《每日郵報》駐東南亞戰地記者沃德于2009年撰寫的《峇冬加里的屠殺案與欺詐》撰寫。”

他補充,如果英國政府遲遲不道歉和不賠償,英女王律師將針對此事入稟法庭。

 

方天兴:备忘录近期呈英国索偿 “峇冬加里屠杀案”掌新证

转载自:光华日报电子新闻

■ 方天兴挑战英政府面临挑战,即40年前被任命为官方史学家安东尼.索特承认其历史记载错误。

(吉隆坡1日讯)华总会长方天兴表示,遭英国政府一再拒绝赔偿及道歉要求的“峇冬加里屠杀惨案”已获得了最新的进展,并将在近期内委派代表团呈交备忘录予英国驻马高级官员,作为双方协调,向英国政府反映惨案真相。

他今日在记者会上指出,追讨英军屠杀惨案的律师团如今掌握了最新证据,当年马来西亚紧急时期官方史学家安东尼.索特教授承认自己当时针对这起惨案只作出非常简短的官方史料看法。此外,该律师团去年也已呈交《峇冬加里的屠杀与欺诈》一书予国防部和外交部以及英国上、下议员的代义士。

他谴责此发生于1948年12月12日的屠杀案不人道,并表示华总已做好万全的准备,誓要为当年24名受害者及其家属讨回公道,不放弃争取合理的赔偿及要求英国政府为当年的惨案作出道歉。

“我们拥有强大的律师团,除了在英国委任了英女皇律师作为我方驻英的代表律师,我们还会在必要时遣派代表团到英国进行协调及鉴证工作。”

或越洋诉讼

方天兴指出,倘若英政府持续不给予峇冬加里惨杀案死者明确的道歉与合理赔偿,死者家属律师将入禀法院挑战英政府,而华总也将作为此越洋诉讼案的后盾。

郭义民:涉案英军可作证

追讨英军屠杀惨案工委会代表律师郭义民指出,史学家安东尼.索特教授坦诚当年作出的结论过于简单、不全面,并愿意纠正错误。

“正当外界因得知该惨案仅存成年证人谭蓉逝世,而对争取翻案不表信心的同时,这项消息对于整起案件起着重大的正面作用,因为从来没有官方史学家会勇于承认自己记录上的错误。”

安东尼.索特根据由英国的沃德与米拉芙撰写的《峇冬加里的屠杀与欺诈》写了一篇长达18页的论文。论文提及,从现有的证据来审视,当时自己对于惨案的结论“看起来是错误的”。

他写道:“作为对比,在‘血腥星期天’(Bloody Sunday)这起惨案中,英军在北爱尔兰打死13名手无寸铁的平民,但是听证会的费用就已接近2亿英镑,我看不出来为何这费用的一部份不能赔偿给马来西亚惨遭历史悲剧的死者。若英政府承认这是一起‘无心的错误’,那就能有尊严的为这起备受争议的事件划上句号。”

据了解,当时涉及在屠杀案里的英军有8名尚在人间,可作为证人,帮助还原历史真相。

‘I was wrong,’ admits historian over claims of Malaya massacre

News from UK: Guardian.co.uk

Police with locals under suspicion of collaborating with communist bandits during the Malayan emergency. Photograph: Bert Hardy/Getty Images

 

(Sunday 7 November 2010) A public inquiry into one of Britain’s darkest postwar military incidents, the alleged massacre of 24 unarmed villagers by UK troops in Malaya, has moved a step closer after the official British historian of the “Malayan emergency” last week withdrew his account of the 1948 incident. Professor Anthony Short said his initial report absolving British troops was “wrong”.

The plantation workers were shot by a 16-man patrol of the Scots Guards. Many of the victims’ bodies were reported to have been mutilated, and the village of Batang Kali was burned to the ground.

The British government has refused to apologise for the incident or offer reparation, although ministers are currently reconsidering whether to launch an independent inquiry into the alleged massacre later this month, a move that could pave the way for compensation to families.

John Halford, a partner at the law firm Bindmans, who is acting for one of the few surviving eyewitnesses of the killings, said: “The families of those arbitrarily killed at Batang Kali have waited 62 years for an acknowledgement that what happened defied the most basic legal and moral standards.”

Short, in an article entitled “The Malayan emergency and the Batang Kali incident”, describes the shootings as a “matter of dispute, recrimination, dishonesty, disgrace and disguise”.

 

Legal Battle Looms Over Scots Guards Jungle Massacre

News from UK: Express.co.uk

 

Malaysian families claim Scots Guards soldiers murdered their relatives in a jungle massacre

(Sunday 7 November 2010) TAXPAYERS could be forced to shell out millions of pounds to Malaysian families who claim Scots Guards soldiers murdered their relatives in a jungle massacre more than 60 years ago.

Lawyers are preparing to launch legal action against the UK Government by the end of the month unless ministers agree to set up a public inquiry into the incident.

A new probe into the shooting of 24 unarmed men at a remote village called Batang Kali in 1948 would be hugely expensive and could trigger massive compensation payments.

The Army has always said the suspected insurgents were attempting to escape from custody, although this has been disputed by eyewitnesses and even some of the guardsmen themselves.

None of the villagers who survived Batang Kali are still alive, however, following the recent death of 78-year-old woman Tham Fong. But London-based law firm Bindmans is now acting on behalf of their children and other relatives.

Partner Stephen Grosz, a human rights expert, told the Sunday Express: “We have established there wasn’t any law that enabled these soldiers to shoot these people whatever they were doing. We want the Government to set up a public inquiry and make reparation.

“If they fail to do so, we will launch a Judicial Review of that decision in the High Court. We are not suggesting anybody should be prosecuted or that there should be a criminal investigation against the soldiers. The goal is to get closure for the families of the victims. The British Army should be setting standards of rectitude and propriety and if they have done something wrong that should be admitted. Normal international law states there is a duty to make reparation and that can take a number of forms, including compensation.”

He added: “They are looking for the truth, it is not at this moment primarily an exercise in compensation seeking.”

Campaigners in Malaysia are also calling for an official apology from Prime Minister David Cameron, similar to the one he offered following the Bloody Sunday Inquiry. At the time, the news that so many “bandits” had been gunned down was greeted with jubilant newspaper headlines in Malaya and in Britain. An investigation by Scotland Yard found no evidence of wrongdoing.

But, in 1970, five of the soldiers came forward to admit they had shot the men in cold blood on the orders of their patrol leader, a 22-year-old sergeant. Despite a national outcry, the Government of the day refused to open a public inquiry and the issue was eventually dropped.

Yesterday, Mr Grosz said his team had been given access to top secret documents suggesting the orders actually came from higher up the chain of command. He said: “Certainly there appears to have been a briefing given to the two sergeants who led the patrol from a commanding officer before they went out. There is a dispute about what the content of that briefing was but the evidence suggests that they were carrying out instructions.”

Furthermore, said Mr Grosz, even if the official version of events was correct, there was no legal basis for the soldiers’ actions as the “shout before you shoot” regulations were not passed until the following month. “The extent to which the authorities tried to legalise it retrospectively we found absolutely shocking,” he said.

Mr Grosz added that his team had spoken to some of the surviving guardsmen, now in their 80s, but none wanted to give a new statement. Last night, Tory backbench MP Patrick Mercer said: “A Scotland Yard inquiry was held and that exonerated the Scots Guardsmen. If there are no witnesses alive on the Malaysian side then I think the appellants are going to have a difficult time proving their case. That doesn’t mean there is no case to answer but I do wonder about the slightly grubby aspect of compensation being sought by individuals who were not there.”

Lieutenant Colonel Tex Pemberton, chairman of the National Malaya and Borneo Association, said: “I would be surprised if the investigation at the time was not carried out properly.”

The Foreign Office and the MoD both said they were planning to respond to the calls for a public inquiry by the end of the month.