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Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar, the place where the British opened fire on unarmed Indians

Vijay Prashad, renowned journalist, historian, and commentator took to TikTok to express his views about the colonial crimes by the British in India and China. In a brief argument, he puts forth a mapping of how India and parts of China have suffered under the British regime. This is what he says,

"Britain has refused to come to terms with its colonial heritage. The English East India Company seized Bengal, where I was born, in 1757, by force. Then the British forced the peasantry to hand over their produce and engineered a famine in 1770 that killed a third of the population. So many famines, I mean there were 24 famines between 1850 and 1899. Tens of millions of people killed. From 1765 to 1938 Britain extracted 32 trillion-pound sterling from India. That was the down payment for the Industrial Revolution. In 1943, Winston Churchill diverted food from Bengal, from my Bengal, to British troops- a diversion that killed at least 3 million Indians. That's another holocaust, a forgotten holocaust. When Britain was thrown out of India in 1947, the literacy rate in India was 14%. So much for the gift of civilization. We were left poor and illiterate. We were denied basic democratic rights. When Britain talks about human rights and its values of freedom and so on, all I hear is the cry of the hundreds of people massacred in cold blood at Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar in 1919. Not for this or for any other massacre, or engineered famine has Britain apologized. And if you live in Britain, I highly recommend you get involved with the Indian Workers Association and its Jallianwala Bagh Massacre Campaign Committee. Over the course of the past fifty years, the British have denied their colonial crimes including by destroying thousands of fires on a range of issues including the bloody war inflicted on Kenya in the 1950s. The government hides, by the way, 1.2 million files in Hounslow Park, north of London. Files which contain Britain's role in the slave trade, and the Boer war, and the decolonization process. In the margins of a document in the UK's forced labor in Kenya, a colonial official wrote, "It must on no account be published." It must on no account be published, because Britain cannot be seen as having conducted a forced labor regime in Kenya. Forced labor is what other people do. Not the British. Britain refuses to come to terms with its colonial heritage because to do so, would be to cast light on this language of human rights and freedom and liberty. What liberty? From 1841 to 1997, Britain ruled Hong Kong with an iron fist. Where was the talk of democracy then? In 1842, a British official wrote, "The poor Chinese must submit to be poisoned by opium or must be massacred by the thousands for supporting their own laws in their own lands.""

A file photo of the Bengal famines during the British raj Image source: wikimedia commonswikimedia commons

Post independence, India has been in the limelight for various reasons in relation to the British regime she withstood for nearly two centuries. According to the written records of history available in the form of novels and accounts from witnesses, the gruesomeness of the regime is coming to light more and more as colonialism, as an attitude of monarchy, is taking ground. My opinion of this issue comes down to the fact that this part of history has been happening and will continue to happen if power falls into ambitious hands that are not willing to let it go. Perhaps if writing is completely done away with, then the world might appear to be at peace since no one will carry stories of the truth.

Since we have accounts, records, and testimonies that are growing each day, more and more of our attention is being drawn to the rather dark past of our country and most of the colonized world. If one takes a closer look at native regimes, or the monarchies that preceded the English, one will find that despite antiquity, political motives have led to tragic ends. As it is said, it depends on who survives to tell the tale. As for the British apologizing for their crimes, I am sure that they will not see reason to do so, since, according to their agenda in the regime, they were simple exercising power. No one apologizes for being powerful. Besides, an apology will not ensure that the crime will not be repeated. China herself is responsible for various crimes under the identity of the Dragon. India has overcome the British, but there are still regimes to overcome, there are still many political disasters to fight, and freedom and liberty are still at stake. Sometimes, atrocities stem from one's own land, by one's own people. It is all about who wields the power, even in a democracy.

Keywords: British Colonialism, Colonization, Independence, India, China, Democracy, Opinion


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