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.

 

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