Secret papers show UK ‘immunised’ those involved in Batang Kali massacre
KUALA LUMPUR, May 7 — Britain introduced new rules empowering its troops to use “lethal force” in Malaysia weeks after the massacre of 24 villagers in Batang Kali, Selangor in 1948, secret documents have revealed.
Campaigners for the families of the massacre victims claim that secret Foreign Office papers obtained reveal that the emergency law, which was approved by Sir Alec Newboult, chief secretary of what was then Malaya, immunised “those involved in the killings”.
They were quoted by UK newspaper The Scotsman as saying the secret papers were introduced on January 20, 1949, less than a month after the massacre, which allowed troops to use “lethal weapons” with the regulation including the power to cover previous incidents.
The expose comes ahead of a UK High Court bid this week by four relatives of the Batang Kali victims. They are requesting for a review of Britain’s refusal to hold an enquiry into the killings.
The review will examine whether the British Secretaries of State for Defence and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office acted lawfully when they refused last November to hold a public inquiry into both the killings and their cover-up, and to make any form of reparation to the victims’ families.
The victims’ families have long been seeking a proper explanation, apology and reparation for the killings.
“This law was carefully crafted to immunise those involved in the killings from the legal consequences of their actions.
“It was an attempt to use the statute book to excuse and legitimise an atrocity,” solicitor John Halford was quoted by The Scotsman as saying.
Halford will be representing the families of the victims in the bid for the judicial review which will be heard tomorrow and Wednesday.
The Batang Kali massacre took place on December 12, 1948 during British military operations against the communists in the post- World War II Malayan Emergency.
British troops surrounded a rubber estate in Sungai Rimoh, Batang Kali, and shot dead 24 villagers before setting fire to the village.
Former British Defence Secretary Denis Healey had instructed Scotland Yard to set up a special task team to investigate the matter. However, the incoming Conservative government chose to drop the investigation in 1970 due to an ostensible lack of evidence.