http://www.skibbereeneagle.ie/uncategor ... eheadings/Beheading suspected insurgents, and leaving them on display in villages that were considered hostile to the British occupation, was common practice by British troops in Malaya (as it was then known) as part of the counter-insurgency psychological terror campaign. Between 1948 and 1960 the British military fought what is conventionally called the “emergency” or “counter-insurgency” campaign in Malaya, a British colony until independence in 1957. The declassified files reveal that Britain resorted to very brutal measures in the war, including widespread aerial bombing and the use of a forerunner to modern cluster bombs. Britain also set up a grotesque “resettlement” programme that provided a model for the US’s horrific “strategic hamlet” programmes in Vietnam. It also used chemical agents from which the US may again have drawn lessons in its use of agent orange. British forces embarked on a brutal war which involved large-scale bombing, dictatorial police measures and the wholesale “resettlement” of hundreds of thousands of people.
The “Batang Kali massacre” by British soldiers occurred in a village in central Selangor state on Dec 12, 1948. The British High Court blocked an enquiry and the files have never been declassified.
A young British officer commented that, in combating the insurgents: “We were shooting people. We were killing them…This was raw savage success. It was butchery. It was horror.” There were also cases of bodies of dead guerrillas being exhibited in public. This was good practice, according to the Scotsman newspaper, since “simple-minded peasants are told and come to believe that the communist leaders are invulnerable”. The Colonial Office privately noted that “there is no doubt that under international law a similar case in wartime would be a war crime”. (Britain always denied it was technically at “war” in Malaya, hence use of the term “emergency”).
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