Tag Archive | Kenya

Landmark Victory for the Ogiek delivered by the African Court on Human and Peoples Rights*

 

Landmark Victory for the Ogiek delivered by the African Court on Human and Peoples Rights*

By Venatrix Fulmen

The Ogiek preparing to receive the African Court’s landmark decision after awaiting close to a decade. Photo: Andrew Songa on twitter @drewfremen

 

The African Court on Human and Peoples Rights, at its 45th session on May 26, 2017 in Arusha, Tanzania, delivered a long-awaited and unanimous judgement against the Kenya government in a case brought before it by the Ogiek Indigenous Peoples.

The African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights had filed the case after the applicant proved consistent violations and the denial of the human and land rights of the Ogiek by the Republic of Kenya.

In November 2009, when the Kenyan Forest Service (KFS) delivered a potentially fatal blow against the Ogiek with the designation of an eviction order in October 2009 against the Ogiek and anyone else within the Mau Forest Complex–the ancestral homeland of the Ogiek–within 30 days, the African Court had issued an order to suspend the implementation of the eviction notice.

In March 2013, the African Court issued additional provisional measures requiring the Kenyan Government to stop any land transactions in the Mau Forest and refrain from taking any action that would harm the case, until a decision had been reached. This order, however, has never been respected by the Kenyan state.

After dismissing the numerous objections of the government of Kenya, the African Court delivered in Arusha a comprehensive judgement and a very clear ruling, read out over almost 2 hours by Hon. Justice Agustino Ramadani, the former President of the African Court.

The court found that the government of the Republic of Kenya illegally evicted members of the Ogiek community from the Mau Forest and has continuously violated the rights of the Ogiek under Articles 1, 2, 8, 14, 17 (2/3), 21 and 22 of the African Charter on Peoples and Human Rights.

The Republic of Kenya given 6 months to implement required remedies

Concerning the demand for reparations and compensation, the Ogiek have 90 days to file an application and the Kenya state has 90 days to respond to the demands. After this period, the African Court will rule on the reparations to be awarded to the Ogiek community and its victims of abusive state power.

The ruling has been widely welcomed as a fair and just decision by the Ogiek and ECOTERRA Intl., an organization that has stood by the Ogiek since 1986, as well as other important supporters including Friends of Peoples close to Nature (fPcN-interCultural), Minority Rights International and CEMIRIDE.

Source*

Related Topics:

Catholic Nun Arrested for Obstructing Kenya’s Vaccination Program*

Monsanto, U.S. and Gates Pressure Kenya to Reverse GMO Ban*

Kenyan Leaders to Obama: Don’t Lecture us on Gay ‘Marriage’*

Kenya’s New Wind Farm Contributing to Country’s Energy Needs*

Eugenics: Kenya’s Catholic Bishops Charge U.N. for Sterilizing the Population*

Kenya: The Right to Question Those Who Represent You!

Kenya: Rights Of Mother Earth – Maasai Response

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Kenya Says No to GM Maize Trials*

Kenya Says No to GM Maize Trials*

By Samuel Gebre

Kenya is withholding approval for field trials of genetically modified (GM) maize because some officials argue that a ban on GM imports applies to controlled growing tests as well, according to a person familiar with the deliberations.

Talks involving representatives from the health and environment ministries and the Kenya’s National Biosafety Authority (NBA) reached a deadlock in meetings held to discuss applications last week, according to the person, who asked not to be identified because the discussions were private.

The National Environmental Management Authority halted the applications to test seeds from Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation (Kalro) and the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) last year in October, after the two science research bodies had received the go-ahead from the NBA.

A spokesman for Kalro was not available to comment on the application. A representative from AATF declined to comment on Thursday.

The impasse is preventing Kenya from becoming the second nation in sub-Saharan Africa, after SA, to allow cultivation of GM maize, which is a staple food throughout much of southern and eastern Africa. The committee will need to seek guidance from Kenya’s cabinet on the way forward, the person said.

The trials would have been conducted by the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service in multiple locations on small plots of about two acres, and would have lasted about one growing season, or about six months. Kenya is importing maize from Mexico and approved shipments of yellow maize from Ukraine for the first time since 2011, due to a drought. Maize yields in Kenya this season have halved because of the drought, the country’s National Drought Management Authority said on February 6.

Source*

Related Topics:

Monsanto, U.S. and Gates Pressure Kenya to Reverse GMO Ban*

Embedding Transnational Agribusiness and GMO’s into African Agriculture*

Nestlé Removes GMOs from South African Baby Foods not U.S. Baby Foods*

When Unacceptable Elsewhere, Defective GM Maize Goes to Africa*

Is South Africa Waking Up to the Innate Poison of GM Technology?*

GM Food Legislation to Be Introduced in South Africa

E.U. Bullies its Way through an Reciprocal Trade Access in Africa*

Britain’s Seven Covert Wars*

Britain’s Seven Covert Wars*

This is the sort of thing that Britain’s hamstrung media are covering up. It’s just one reason why people go to the alternative media, such as RT and Global Research, to find out what’s going on. It’s hardly surprising that last week’s Commons debate on Aleppo was a farago of lies and ignorance. It’s what we’ve come to expect from our brainwashed, idiot MPs. – Gordon Logan

Dead Yemeni child – one of thousands that the British government has helped to kill.

Dead Yemeni child – one of thousands that the British government has helped to kill.

By Mark Curtis

Britain is fighting at least seven covert wars in the Middle East and North Africa, outside of any democratic oversight or control. Whitehall has in effect gone underground, with neither parliament nor the public being allowed to debate, scrutinise or even know about these wars.

To cover themselves, Ministers are now often resorting to lying about what they are authorising. While Britain has identified Islamic State (among others) as the enemy abroad, it is clear that it sees the British public and parliament as the enemy at home.

Syria

Britain began training Syrian rebel forces from bases in Jordan in 2012. This was also when the SAS was reported to be ‘slipping into Syria on missions’ against Islamic State. Now, British special forces are ‘mounting hit and run raids against IS deep inside eastern Syria dressed as insurgent fighters’ and ‘frequently cross into Syria to assist the New Syrian Army’ from their base in Jordan. British special forces also provide training, weapons and other equipment to the New Syrian Army.

British aircraft began covert strikes against IS targets in Syria in 2015, months before Parliament voted in favour of overt action in December 2015. These strikes were conducted by British pilots embedded with US and Canadian forces.

Britain has also been operating a secret drone warfare programme in Syria. Last year Reaper drones killed British IS fighters in Syria, again before parliament approved military action. As I have previously argued, British covert action and support of the Syrian rebels is, along with horrific Syrian government/Russian violence, helping to prolong a terrible conflict.

 

Iraq

Hundreds of British troops are officially in Iraq to train local security forces. But they are also engaged in covert combat operations against IS. One recent report suggests that Britain has more than 200 special force soldiers in the country, operating out of a fortified base within a Kurdish Peshmerga camp south of Mosul.

British Reaper drones were first deployed over Iraq in 2014 and are now flown remotely by satellite from an RAF base in Lincolnshire. Britain has conducted over 200 drones strikes in Iraq since November 2014.

Libya

SAS forces have been secretly deployed to Libya since the beginning of this year, working with Jordanian special forces embedded in the British contingent. This follows a mission by MI6 and the RAF in January to gather intelligence on IS and draw up potential targets for air strikes. British commandos are now reportedlyfighting and directing assaults on Libyan frontlines and running intelligence, surveillance and logistical support operations from a base in the western city of Misrata.

But a team of 15 British forces are also reported to be based in a French-led multinational military operations centre in Benghazi, eastern Libya, supporting renegade Libyan general Khalifa Haftar. In July 2016, Middle East Eye reported that this British involvement was helping to coordinate air strikes in support of Haftar, whose forces are opposed to the Tripoli-based government that Britain is supposed to be supporting.

Yemen

The government says it has no military personnel based in Yemen. Yet a report by Vice News in April, based on numerous interviews with officials, revealed that British special forces in Yemen, who were seconded to MI6, were training Yemeni troops fighting Al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and also had forces infiltrated in AQAP. The same report also found that British military personnel were helping with drone strikes against AQAP. Britain was playing ‘a crucial and sustained role with the CIA in finding and fixing targets, assessing the effect of strikes, and training Yemeni intelligence agencies to locate and identify targets for the US drone program’. In addition, the UK spybase at Menwith Hill in Yorkshire facilitates US drone strikes in Yemen.

Britain has been widely reported (outside the mainstream media) as supporting the brutal Saudi war in Yemen, which has caused thousands of civilian deaths, most of them due to Saudi air strikes. Indeed, Britain is party to the war. The government says there are around 100 UK military personnel based in Saudi Arabia including a ‘small number’ at ‘Saudi MOD and Operational Centres’. One such Centre, in Riyadh, coordinates the Saudi bombing campaign in Yemen and includes British military personnel who are in the command room as air strikes are carried out and who have access to the bombing targets.

The UK is of course arming the Saudi campaign: The British government disclosed on 13 October that the Saudis have used five types of British bombs and missiles in Yemen. On the same day, it lied to Parliament that Britain was ‘not a party’ to the war in Yemen.

A secret ‘memorandum of understanding’ that Britain signed with Saudi Arabia in 2014 has not been made public since it ‘would damage the UK’s bilateral relationship’ with the Kingdom, the government states. It is likely that this pact includes reference to the secret British training of Syrian rebels in Saudi Arabia, which has taken place since mid-2015. Operating from a desert base in the north of the country, British forces have been teaching Syrian forces infantry skills as part of a US-led training programme.

Afghanistan

In Afghanistan, the public was told that British forces withdrew at the end of 2014. However, British forces stayed behind to help create and train an Afghan special forces unit. Despite officially only having ‘advisors’ in Afghanistan, in August 2015 it was reported that British covert forces were fighting IS and Taliban fighters. The SAS and SBS, along with US special forces, were ‘taking part in military operations almost every night’ as the insurgents closed in on the capital Kabul.

In 2014, the government stated that it had ended its drone air strikes programme in Afghanistan, which had begun in 2008 and covered much of the country. Yet last year it was reported that British special forces were calling in air strikes using US drones.

Pakistan and Somalia

Pakistan and Somalia are two other countries where Britain is conducting covert wars. Menwith Hill facilitates US drone strikes against jihadists in both countries, with Britain’s GCHQ providing ‘locational intelligence’ to US forces for use in these attacks.

The government has said that it has 27 military personnel in Somalia who are developing the national army and supporting the African Union Mission. Yet in 2012 it was reported that the SAS was covertly fighting against al-Shabab Islamist terrorists in Somalia, working with Kenyan forces in order to target leaders. This involved up to 60 SAS soldiers, close to a full squadron, including Forward Air Controllers who called in air strikes against al-Shabab targets by the Kenyan air force. In early 2016, it was further reported that Jordan’s King Abdullah, whose troops operate with UK special forces, was saying that his troops were ready with Britain and Kenya to go ‘over the border’ to attack al-Shabaab.

Drones

The RAF’s secret drone war, which involves a fleet of 10 Reaper drones, has been in permanent operation in Afghanistan since October 2007, but covertly began operating outside Afghanistan in 2014. The NGO Reprieve notes that Britain provides communications networks to the CIA ‘without which the US would not be able to operate this programme’. It says that this is a particular matter of concern as the US covert drone programme is illegal.

The Gulf

Even this may not be the sum total of British covert operations in the region. The government stated in 2015 that it had 177 military personnel embedded in other countries’ forces, with 30 personnel working with the US military. It is possible that these forces are also engaged in combat in the region. For example, the First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir Philip Jones, has said that in the Gulf, British pilots fly US F18s from the decks of US aircraft carriers. This means that ‘US’ air strikes might well be carried out by British pilots.

Britain has many other military and intelligence assets in the region. Files leaked by Edward Snowden show that Britain has a network of three GCHQ spy bases in Oman – codenamed ‘Timpani’, ‘Guitar’ and ‘Clarinet’ – which tap in to various undersea cables passing through the Strait of Hormuz into the Gulf. These bases intercept and process vast quantities of emails, telephone calls and web traffic on behalf of Western intelligence agencies, which information is then shared with the National Security Agency in the US.

The state of Qatar houses the anti-IS coalition’s Combined Air Operations Centre at Al Udeid airbase. The government says it has seven military personnel ‘permanently assigned to Qatar’ and an additional number of ‘temporary personnel’ working at the airbase. These are likely to be covert forces; the government says that ‘we do not discuss specific numbers for reasons of safeguarding operational security’.

Similarly, the government says it has six military personnel ‘permanently assigned’ to the United Arab Emirates and an additional number of ‘temporary personnel’ at the UAE’s Al Minhad airbase. Britain also has military assets at Manama harbour, Bahrain, whose repressive armed forces are also being secretly trained by British commandos.

Kenya and Turkey

Kenya hosts Britain’s Kahawa Garrishon barracks and Laikipia Air Base, from where thousands of troops who carry out military exercises in Kenya’s harsh terrain can be deployed on active operations in the Middle East. Turkey has also offered a base for British military training. In 2015, for example, Britain deployed several military trainers to Turkey as part of the US-led training programme in Syria, providing small arms, infantry tactics and medical training to rebel forces.

The web of deceit

When questioned about these covert activities, Ministers have two responses. One is to not to comment on special forces’ operations. The other is to lie, which has become so routine as to be official government policy. The reasoning is simple – the government believes the public simply has no right to know of these operations, let alone to influence them.

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon told parliament in July that the government is ‘committed to the convention that before troops are committed to combat the House of Commons should have an opportunity to debate the matter’. This is plainly not true, as the extent of British covert operations show.

Similarly, it was first reported in May that British troops were secretly engaged in combat in Libya. This news came two days after Fallon told MPs that Britain was not planning ‘any kind of combat role’ to fight IS in Libya.

There are many other examples of this straightforward web of deceit. In July 2016, the government issued six separate corrections to previous ministerial statements in which they claimed that Saudi Arabia is not targeting civilians or committing war crimes in Yemen. However, little noticed was that these corrections also claimed that ‘the UK is not a party’ to the conflict in Yemen. This claim is defied by various news reports in the public domain.

British foreign policy is in extreme mode, whereby Ministers do not believe they should be accountable to the public. This is the very definition of dictatorship. Although in some of these wars, Britain is combatting terrorist forces that are little short of evil, it is no minor matter that several UK interventions have encouraged these very same forces and prolonged wars, all the while being regularly disastrous for the people of the region. Britain’s absence of democracy needs serious and urgent challenging

Source*

Related Topics:

British Parliament Confirms Libya War Was Based On Lies …*

New Colonial Carve-up of Africa? British firms vying for £1trn Natural Resources*

British air strikes in Iraq and Syria increase by 85%*

The “Free Syrian Army” Media Campaign is a British Government Operation*

British Government Killed 10 Million Iranians In 1919*

British Banking System the Pumping Heart of Terror Finance and Global Drug Trade*

British Military Has Only Killed 7 Terrorists after More Than 600 Airstrikes*

British Airstrike Kills 20 Civilians in Hasaka*

British Soldiers Throw War Medals to the Floor*

“Official” British Intel Report on Iraq Copy-Pasted from the Internet*

Reality of British Empire should be taught in Schools – Corbyn*

British SAS Special Forces “Dressed Up as ISIS Rebels” Fighting Assad in Syria*

U.K. – U.S. Responds to Aleppo Siege with More Sanctions against Syrian Civilians*

French Troops with U.K., U.S. Support Engaged In War on Libya*

U.K. Illegally at War in Yemen*

Radiation from Iraq War Detected In U.K. Atmosphere*

U.K. Base Used by U.S. to Kill Thousands in the Middle East*

U.K.-based Israeli-owned Drone Factory Faced Forced Shutdown*

U.K. to Re-establish Military Bases East of Suez*

U.K. Starts Building New, Permanent Navy Base in Bahrain*

E.U. Bullies its Way through an Reciprocal Trade Access in Africa*

E.U. Bullies its Way through an Reciprocal Trade Access in Africa*

By Cécile Barbière

Translated by Samuel White

Under the EPA, Kenya will have to open its market to European goods

 

The six African countries threatened with losing access to the European single market have finally agreed to sign the E.U’s Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs). But the continent’s regional integration may suffer as a result. EurActiv France reports.

Kenya’s parliament last Wednesday (21 September) ratified the European Union EPA, signalling the end of a drawn-out struggle between several African countries and the European Commission, over the future of their trade relations with the E.U.

In July, Brussels had upped the pressure on six African governments, threatening to suspend their single market access if they had not ratified the new agreements by 1 October.

Customs duties

Faced with a tax on their E.U. exports if they failed to cooperate, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Botswana, Namibia, Swaziland and Kenya all finally agreed to ratify their Economic Partnership Agreements, bringing the lengthy negotiation process to an end.

These EPAs replace the non-reciprocal trade agreements granted by the EU under the Cotonou agreement, signed in June 2000. The aim is to maintain the preferential access to the European market enjoyed by the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries, in return for reduced customs duties for European exports.

But the balance of the new agreements has attracted criticism from certain African countries, as well as civil society organisations, which say the dice are weighted in favour of the EU. The loss of customs revenue, coupled with competition from European products arriving on less development markets, is a major cause for concern.

EU seals free trade deal with West Africa

 Negotiators from West Africa and the E.U. have put pen to paper on a €42 billion-a-year free trade deal after 10 years of haggling, but ongoing talks with East African states remain mired in fine print.

Integration in East Africa

Following the ratification by the Kenyan parliament, the Secretary of State for Foreign Trade, Adan Mohamed, said that if he had allowed the EU’s October ultimatum to pass, “[Kenyan] products would have become un-competitive on the European market, as they would have been taxed at 22%”.

Kenya is part of the region known to the E.U. as the East Africa Community (EAC), and would have been the only member of this trade zone to see EU customs barriers re-established if it refused to sign the EPA.

It is the only EAC country not under the “everything but arms” regime. Reserved for the least developed countries (LDCs), this beneficial trade regime offers toll-free access to the European market with no reciprocal demands.

The other members of the EAC (Tanzania, Uganda, Burundi and Rwanda), which do enjoy this preferential access, were never at risk of losing it.

Tanzania and Brexit

“For Tanzania, the ultimatum has never been an issue because the country is among the LDCs, so it has free access to the European market under the “everything but arms” regime,” a European Commission spokesperson said.

With guaranteed access to the single market, the country has little to gain from signing the EPA, which would oblige it to progressively open its own market to European products.

 “Tanzania cannot be forced to sign because it has LDC status, whereas for Kenya, the effect would have been immediate,” said Marc Maes, the head of European trade policy for the Coalition of the Flemish North South Movement.

And the country has so far refused to ratify the agreement. This is a threat to the region’s economic integration, as each East African country would be forced to come up with its own agreement with the E.U., instead of signing a single regional EPA.

Brexit is another concern for Tanzania. “75% of this country’s exports go to the United Kingdom, so Brexit calls into question the relevance of this EPA,” said Maes.

In 2000, the European Union and the countries of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP group) signed the Cotonou agreement, which foresaw the negotiation of economic partnership agreements (EPAs), including reciprocal free trade from 2008.

Since then, the E.U. has been negotiating economic partnership agreements with the ACP group, to replace the Cotonou and Lomé agreements.

Under the terms of the agreement, the countries of the Global South were obliged to open their markets to most products from the European Union.

Only one such regional agreement has been signed so far, due to the strong reservations expressed by civil society organisations and states.

 Source*

Related Topics:

TPP, TPPA Goes EPA in the Recolonization of Africa*

The Case for Reparations to Africa: Britain Apology is Cheap*

New Colonial Carve-up of Africa? British firms vying for £1trn Natural Resources*

A.U Launches All-Africa Passport to Create a Borderless Continent*

Embedding Transnational Agribusiness and GMO’s into African Agriculture*

BRICS Under Attack: NWO Tentacles Extending into South Africa*

Offshore Firm Helped Billionaires Plunder Africa*

“U.S. Destroyed Libya to re-colonize Africa”*

Rothschild Billion Dollar Money Laundering Plot in Africa*

Hiding Africa’s Looted Funds and the Silence of Western Media*

African Women Organize to Reclaim Food Sovereignty*

WATCH: THE UTILIZATION OF WESTERN NGOS FOR THE THEFT OF AFRICA’S VAST RESOURCES

Why Apartheid Still Exists in South Africa*

Gates Foundation Gives Tulane U Millions to Curb African Population*

Kenya overturns Hijab Ban*

Kenya overturns Hijab Ban*

By Magdalene Mukami

A Kenyan court on Thursday overturned a ban on students wearing headscarves, saying they should be able to wear religious attire. The ban had been imposed by Justice Harun Makau of the High Court in March 2015.

“Kenya’s education minister should facilitate urgent consultations and formulate appropriate regulations for the better protection of the fundamental right to freedom of religion and belief and freedom from discrimination under Article 27 of the Constitution for all students in Kenya’s educational system,” said the ruling by a three-judge panel.

The panel, led by Justice Phillip Waki of the Court of Appeal of Kenya, rejected the argument that headscarves should not be allowed as they are not part of the official school uniform.

The judges also called on schools not to discriminate against students who wear headscarves and to embrace the fact that Kenya is a country of diverse religious faiths.

The ruling comes as a reprieve for many female Muslim students in Kenya, who had been forced to abandon headscarves after the law was passed, especially those studying at Christian-sponsored schools.

Hammad Mohammed Kassim, Kenya’s chief kadhi (Muslim official), had previously argued before a court that wearing headscarves is a religious obligation for women.

Source*

Related Topics:

Ramadhan in Kenya*

Kenyan Leaders to Obama: Don’t Lecture us on Gay ‘Marriage’*

Kenya: The Right to Question Those Who Represent You!

As France Lifts Municipal Burkini Ban, Let’s Ask Why We Should Care What Other People Wear*

Why a Christian Woman is Wearing Hijab For Lent*

The aql is not Reason – it’s Consciousness*

Catholic Nun Arrested for Obstructing Kenya’s Vaccination Program*

Catholic Nun Arrested for Obstructing Kenya’s Vaccination Program*

By Carol Adl

A Catholic nun was arrested on Monday evening for obstructing an ongoing immunisation campaign against measles and rubella in Nakuru County in Kenya.

The ministry of health had announced that the campaign launched by the Kenyan government was targeting 19 million children aged between 9 months and 14 years.

Sister Cecilia Kamau, the headmistress of the Catholic sponsored St Anthony Academy was arrested after obstructing the immunisation of over 700 pupils.

According to Truth Kings:

“Nakuru County public health official Samuel King’ori and a fleet of police presence stormed the place where vaccines were to be administered and arrested the Kamau. They based their arrest on that of “complaints” regarding the nun’s blockage of the measles vaccine program.

The health official said he wanted to take the 91% vaccination rate to 100%. It would seem they are using any means necessary, including that of jailing innocent nuns.”

The Catholic Church has condemned the arrest of sister Cecilia Kamau,

Nakuru Catholic Diocese Bishop Maurice Muhatia  called her arrest as an “unfortunate act”.

“We Catholics are Kenyans and, according to the Constitution, we are entitled to freedom of choice and speech,” said Bishop Muhatia.

“I condemn what the medical personnel are doing…..How can they lock children in a room and inject them with the vaccine like animals?”

The Daily Nation reports:

The bishop claimed children in their institutions had been left traumatised after medics forcibly conducted the vaccination.

He challenged the Ministry of Health and the county government to explain why they were using force in the vaccination.

His remarks come after it emerged that members of the church have been resisting the administration of the vital immunisation, claiming it is not safe.

Mr King’ori on Tuesday said that, while some members of the church allowed their children to be vaccinated, some schools run by the Catholic Church were hiding their pupils to avoid the vaccination.

Source*

Related Topics:

Eugenics: Kenya’s Catholic Bishops Charge U.N. for Sterilizing the Population*

WHO Admitted Smallpox Vaccine Caused AIDS after Requesting It*

U.S. Program Forced Sterilization of Hispanic Women*

Bill Gates’ Population Control Microchip*

Meningitis Vaccines Suspended At U.K. School After Up to 15 Students Collapse*

U.N. Vaccine Program has Deliberately Killed Syrian Kids*

Western Governments Are Enslaving Humanity through Vaccines*

CDC Adds 3 More Vaccines to Childhood Immunization Schedule*

Borax Being Added to Vaccines*

Doctors Say Bill Gates Polio Vaccine Has Created Deadly ‘Super Polio’*

Congressional Testimony Exposes the Truth of the Vaccine-Autism Cover-up*

British Government Killed 10 Million Iranians In 1919*

British Government Killed 10 Million Iranians In 1919*

The document in the American Archives, reporting the widespread famine and spread of epidemic disease in Iran, estimates the number of the deceased due to the famine to be about 8-10 million

The Big Three at the Tehran Conference Left to right: Joseph Stalin, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill.

By Sadegh Abbasi

One of the little-known chapters of history was the widespread famine in Iran during World War I, caused by the British presence in Iran. After the Russian Revolution of 1917, Britain became the main foreign power in Iran and this famine or–more accurately–‘genocide’ was committed by the British. The document in the American Archives, reporting the widespread famine and spread of epidemic disease in Iran, estimates the number of the deceased due to the famine to be about 8-10 million during 1917-19 (1), making this the greatest genocide of the 20th century and Iran the biggest victim of World War I.

Iranian victims of famine and disease, WWI

It should be noted that Iran had been one of the main suppliers of food grains to the British forces stationed in the empire’s South Asian colonies. Although bad harvest during these two years made the situation worse, it was by no means the main reason why the Great Famine occurred. Prof. Gholi Majd of Princeton University writes in his book, The Great Famine and Genocide in Persia, that  American documents show that the British prevented imports of wheat and other food grains into Iran from Mesopotamia, Asia, and also the USA, and that ships loaded with wheat were not allowed to unload at the port of Bushehr in the Persian Gulf. Professor Majd argues that Great Britain intentionally created genocide conditions to destroy Iran, and to effectively control the country for its own purposes. Major Donohoe describes Iran of that time as a “land of desolation and death”. But this event soon became the subject of a British cover up.

Britain has a long record of its several attempts to conceal history and rewrite it in their own favour. The pages are filled with conspiracies that were covered up by the British government to hide its involvement in different episodes that would tarnish the country’s image. One of the clear examples is the “Jameson Raid”; a failed coup against Paul Kruger’s government in South Africa. This raid was planned and executed directly by the British government of Joseph Chamberlain under the orders of Queen Victoria (4) (5). In 2002, Sir Graham Bower’s memoirs were published in South Africa, revealing these involvements that had been covered up for more than a century, focusing attention on Bower as a scapegoat for the incident.

The terrible famine of 1876-79 was spread out across nearly the whole of southern, western and northern India

The records that were destroyed to cover up British crimes around the globe, or were kept in secret Foreign Office archives, so as to, not only protect the United Kingdom’s reputation, but also to shield the government from litigation, are indicative of the attempts made by the British to evade the consequences of their crimes. The papers at Hanslope Park also include the reports on the “elimination” of the colonial authority’s enemies in 1950s Malaya; records that show ministers in London knew of the torture and murder of Mau Mau insurgents in Kenya and roasting them alive . These records may include those related to Iran’s Great Famine. Why were these records that cover the darkest secrets of the British Empire destroyed or kept secret? Simply because they might ‘embarrass’ Her Majesty’s government.

A famine occurred in Ireland from 1845 until 1852 which killed one fourth of the Irish population. This famine was caused by British policies and faced a large cover up attempt by the British government and crown to blame it on ‘potatoes’. The famine, even today, is famous in the world as the “potato famine” when, in reality, it was a result of a planned food shortage and thus a deliberate genocide by the British government .

The true face of this famine as a genocide has been proven by historian Tim Pat Coogan in his book The Famine Plot: England’s Role in Ireland’s Greatest Tragedy published by Palgrave MacMillan. A ceremony was planned to take place in the U.S. to unveil Coogan’s book in America, but he was denied a visa by the American embassy in Dublin.

Therefore it becomes obvious that Britain’s role in Iran’s Great famine, which killed nearly half of Iran’s population, was not unprecedented. The documents published by the British government overlook the genocide, and consequently, the tragedy underwent an attempted cover-up by the British government. The Foreign Office “handbook on Iran” of 1919 mentioned nothing related to the Great Famine.

Julian Bharier, a scholar who studied Iran’s population, built his “backward projection” estimation of Iran’s population  based on reports from this “handbook” and, as a result, ignored the effect of the Great Famine on Iran’s population in 1917. Bharier’s estimations were used by some authors to deny the occurrence of the Great Famine or to underestimate its impacts.

By ignoring Iran’s Great Famine in his estimations, Bharier’s work faces four scientific deficiencies. Bharier does not consider the loss of population caused by the famine in his calculations; he needs to ‘adjust’ the figure of the official census in 1956 from 18.97 million to 20.37 million, and this is despite the fact that he uses 1956 census as his primary building block for his “backward projection” model. He also ignores the official growth rates and uses his personal assumptions in this regard, which is far lower than other estimates. Finally, although Bharier frequently cites Amani’s estimates , in the end Bharier’s findings contradict that of Amani’s; notably Bharier’s population estimate for 1911 is 12.19 million while Amani put this figure at 10.94 million.

Despite deficiencies in the population estimates offered by Bharier for the period of the Famine and its earlier period, his article offers useful data for the post-Famine period; this is because these figures are generated from 1956 backward. That is to say, numbers generated from 1956 to 1919 are thus credible because they do not include the period of famine. Moreover, this portion of Bharier’s data are also true to that of the American Legation. For example, Caldwell and Sykes estimate the 1919 population at 10 million, which is comparative to Bharier’s figure of 11 million.

Gholi Majd was not the first author to refute Bharier’s figures for this period. Gad G. Gilbar, in his 1976 article on demographic developments during the second half of the 19th century and the first decade of the 20th century, also considers Bharier’s estimates inaccurate for the period.

In an apparently biased review of Majd’s work, Willem Floor confirms Bharier’s model , despite its apparent deficiencies, and takes a mocking tone toward the well- documented work of Gholi Majd to undermine the devastation caused by the British-instigated famine in Iran, to the point of total denial of the existence of such a genocide. Floor also offers inaccurate or untrue information to oppose the fact that the British deprived Iranians from honey and caviar in the north, as he argues caviar was haram (religiously prohibited), while no such fatwa has ever existed in Shia jurisprudence and all available decrees assert that caviar is halal or permissible under the Islamic law. There was a rumour made up by Russians at the time, saying that Caviar was haram and Britain made full use of this rumour.

Britain induced the Ethiopian famines of the 1970s and 1980s

Another criticism made by Floor was to question why Majd’s work does not use British archival sources. A more important question is why Majd should have used these sources when they totally ignore the occurrence of the famine in Iran. The fact that Majd used mainly U.S. sources seems to be reasonable on the grounds that the U.S. was neutral toward the state of affairs in Iran at the time, and made efforts to help by feeding them.

Source*

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