The 'Butchers Apron' ~ aka the 'Union Jack'
The vast majority of people who make it to the UK, seeking asylum come from former British Colonies. Countries that the UK plundered of natural resources and when forced to depart, left most of the countries in political/economic turmoil the ramifications of which still bedevil these countries today.
The legacy of the British Empire MUST be front and centre when we make arguments about the injustice of immigration controls. "we are here because you were there and are still there" is critically relevant.
The 'Butchers Apron'
Britain with brutal and violent oppression colonized over 57 countries mostly in the 16th/17th/18th centuries. None of the countries asked to be colonized and most of them had to resort to bloody and violent insurgency to drive the British out and gain their freedom/independence back.
To the majority of those colonized the Union Jack was known as the 'Butchers Apron'. Though Britain boasted the sun never set on the British Empire, it would be more true to say, 'the sun never set and the blood of innocents never dried.'
Britain destroyed records of colonial crimes
Thousands of papers detailing shameful acts were culled, while others were kept secret illegally. Thousands of documents detailing some of the most shameful acts and crimes committed during the final years of the British empire were systematically destroyed to prevent them falling into the hands of post-independence governments, an official review has concluded. Those papers that survived the purge were flown discreetly to Britain where they were hidden for 50 years in a secret Foreign Office archive, beyond the reach of historians and members of the public, and in breach of legal obligations for them to be transferred into the public domain.
Read more: The Guardian, 18/04/12
Most of the countries after throwing of the shackles of Britain became part of the British Commonwealth; now an intergovernmental organisation of fifty-four independent member states, all but two of which were formerly part of the British Empire.
Did the 'Commonwealth' bring peace and economic prosperity, to the people of these nations? Not at all, the Wealth was only common to the rich and all that changed for the indigenous populations; was the color of the flags that flew over them and the accents of their 'masters'.
[Comment: It is assumed that once formal independence was achieved for these countries, the countries were entirely responsible for their own fate which ignores the constraints imposed on them by patterns of ownership and trade in raw materials as a part of colonial legacy and then subsequent developments after WWII when intricate financial regulation through the world bank, IMF strangulated them into indebtedness and dependency. Neo-liberal ascendancy finally devastated most of them since the 1990s. Saleh Mamon]
Britain Must Own Up To Its' Brutal Colonial Past
We associate the term 'concentration camps' with the Nazis. But it started with the British. Remember all that national soul-searching and self-flagellation over Empire and all the horrors committed in its name? No, me neither. But this is the fictional Britain that has been conjured up by our Foreign Secretary, William Hague. "We have to get out of this post-colonial guilt," he declared in Friday's Evening Standard. "Be confident in ourselves."
Here is an echo of Gordon Brown's assertion in 2005 that "the days of Britain having to apologise for its colonial history are over". It was a straw man argument, because there has never been an apology for British imperialism. The British Empire has been virtually erased by collective amnesia; like an embarrassing, sordid secret that should never be mentioned in polite company. A foreign country such as Turkey can rightly be berated for failing to come to terms with an atrocity like the Armenian genocide, but the darkest moments of our own history are intentionally forgotten.
Read more: Owen Jones: 04/09/12
The Commonwealth is a Jamboree of Repression
In recent years the collective political will of Commonwealth members to promote human rights has all but evaporated. Only the tiny Pacific nation of Fiji, suspended following a coup in 2006, will be excluded from this month's Commonwealth jamboree in Trinidad. And beyond the summits the Commonwealth has become even more pusillanimous.
Its secretariat fails to push or fund its human rights unit as a viable mechanism to encourage its members to comply with international standards; neither the secretary-general nor the diplomats of leading member states make a serious effort to get the Commonwealth to act collectively at the UN and elsewhere to champion human rights.
Tom Porteous, guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 24 November 2009
Let's end the myths of Britain's imperial past
Britain's empire was established, and maintained for more than two centuries, through bloodshed, violence, brutality, conquest and war. Not a year went by without large numbers of its inhabitants being obliged to suffer for their involuntary participation in the colonial experience. Slavery, famine, prison, battle, murder, extermination – these were their various fates.
Richard Gott, guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 19 October 2011
Colonized countries of Great Britain
Sub-Saharan Africa: Botswana, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Namibia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe
SW Asia and N. Africa: Bahrain, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar, Sudan, UAE, Yemen
South Asia: Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Pakistan, Sri Lanka
SE Asia: Brunei, Burma, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore
Caribbean: Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, Trinidad & Tobago
Australia and Oceania: Australia, Fiji, New Zealand, Tuvalu
North America: Canada, the U.S
Europe: Ireland, Scotland, Wales,
South America: Falklands Islands
Though no longer subject to British Colonial rule, the United Kingdom currently has the following overseas territories - Anguilla, Bermuda, British Antarctic Territory, British Indian Ocean Territory, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Montserrat, Pitcairn Islands, Saint Helena, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, Turks and Caicos Islands and the Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia.
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates, and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom, that had originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height it was the largest empire in history and, for over a century, was the foremost global power. By 1922, the British Empire held sway over a population of about 458 million people, one-quarter of the world's population, and covered more than 13,000,000 square miles (33,670,000 km2): approximately a quarter of the Earth's total land area. As a result, its political, linguistic and cultural legacy is widespread. At the peak of its power, it was often said that "the sun never sets on the British Empire" because its span across the globe ensured that the sun was always shining on at least one of its numerous territories.