The Crimes of the British Empire Then and Now: Genocide, Coups d’Etat, Subversion

“Get ready,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told journalists at her weekly briefing on April 19, which turned out to be a bombshell. In response to the British accusations that Russia is responsible for state-sponsored assassinations, for the use of chemical weapons in Syria and in general for blatant disregard of international law, she recalled the “contributions” of the British elite and authorities to the history of the past centuries, going through the review the crimes one by one.

According to historians, she noted, “Britain is the world’s leader when it comes to genocide, given the millions of innocent civilians that have been killed in British colonies.”

* In India, it is estimated where the deindustrialization and pillaging of the colony led to the death by starvation of between 15 and 29 million people. She recounted the British practice of executing Indian “mutineers” by shooting them out of cannons, and quoted the infamous Winston Churchill saying, “I hate Indians. They are beastly people with a beastly religion.”

* In Africa, she noted, 13 million people were taken from the continent as slaves under colonial rule, but it is known that 3-4 times as many Africans were killed, with the total victims numbering 50-52 million people. During the Anglo-Boer war (1899-1902), the British set up concentration camps for anyone suspected of sympathy for the Boer rebels against British rule. Their homes were burned and their livestock and crops destroyed, and then the men were separated from the women and children, and shipped out of the country.

Turning to the Kikuyu people in Kenya in 1954-1961, she recalled that “in retaliation for the killing of 32 white colonists, the British authorities exterminated 300,000 members of the Kikuyu people, and drove another 1.5 million into concentration camps.”

* As for Australia, historians believe that “between 90% and 95% of aborigines were exterminated during the colonization”. They were also deliberately infected them with various diseases, for medical experiments.

* During the notorious Opium Wars, “London was poisoning Chinese people with drugs for decades”, and making fabulous profits from it. At the same time, the military-strategic aim was to demoralize the Chinese army.

* The British authorities, according to the national archives, “made wide use of chemical weapons to put down the Arab rebellion in Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq) in the spring of 1920…. Churchill ordered the use of thousands of mustard gas shells against the rebels.”

Maria Zakharova also cited cases involving Greece, Ireland, and Ukraine, before moving from outright genocide, to the British Empire’s love of spy operations and subversive operations. The modus operandi of the White Helmets, among others, corresponds fully to that tradition. James Bond films are not fiction, she pointed out, after all, Ian Fleming was working from archival documents. British spies do have “a license to kill.” She went on to detail some of the known assassinations and coups run by British secret services, including the very recent poisoning of Sergei Skripal.

The full briefing is available in English and other languages translation on the Russian Foreign Ministry website.