Thousands of documents detailing some of the most shameful acts and crimes committed during the process of British decolonisation were systematically destroyed to prevent them falling into the hands of post-independence governments, an official review in London has concluded.
Those papers that survived the purge were flown discreetly to Britain where they remained hidden in a secret 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.
Some that have now been released include monthly intelligence reports on the “elimination” of the colonial authority’s enemies in 1950s Malaya; records showing ministers in London were aware of the Mau Mau murders in Kenya; and details on the lengths Britain went to forcibly remove islanders from Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean.
Writing for the Guardian, Huw Bennett says the British suppression of historical papers on the north of Ireland should also now be ended.
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