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Thread: The massacre at Amritsar, 13th April 1919

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    The massacre at Amritsar, 13th April 1919

    Today marks the hundredth anniversary of the killing of hundreds of unarmed civilians by the British Army in India, at the order of Reginald Dyer.

    No apology has ever been made by the British Government. Here are the statements in the years after the event:


    22 December 1919 Volume 123

    The SECRETARY of STATE for INDIA (Mr. Montagu)

    The hon. and gallant Member knows that he is dealing with subjects which are sub judice and he is forming his estimate of what happened on one column and a-half report of the evidence of a single man who was in the witness-box for a whole day. He knows that no action of any sort or kind whatever can be taken, affecting whoever it may be, to vindicate— ​ if any action be necessary—the name of England for justice and fairplay, until that report is received. I have never known a case where so many deductions have been drawn in this House from events which at the moment are being inquired into by an impartial tribunal.

    Colonel WEDGWOOD

    I do not think that I have varied from the words used by General Dyer. He is accused out of his own voice. He himself said, "I did not take thirty seconds to decide whether to shoot." He himself said that the mob might have dispersed if he had asked them. He himself said that he fired on them because, if they had dispersed, they might have come back and laughed at him afterwards. He has made that clear. I wanted to point out the difference between suppressing a mob doing violence and shooting down people who are not violent, because by that action terror might be inspired and prevent riots in the future. We have never justified the shooting down of people, not because they were endangering life but because they might do so at some future time unless they were fired on.

    https://hansard.parliament.uk/Common...arDisturbances

    18 February 1920 Volume 125

    Mr. SPOOR

    asked the Lord Privy Seal whether he proposes to give an early opportunity for a discussion on the Amritsar incident?

    Mr. BONAR LAW

    until the report of the Committee now sitting in India to inquire into this matter has been received it is not possible to consider this question.

    https://hansard.parliament.uk/Common...ritsarIncident

    08 November 1921 Volume 148

    Sir J. D. REES

    asked the Secretary of State for India whether the assessors appointed in that behalf have dealt with the claims put forward on behalf of those who lost their lives at Jallianwallah Bagh; and, if so, with what general results?

    Mr. MONTAGU

    I am informed that the Committee has not yet concluded its inquiry.

    https://hansard.parliament.uk/Common...ritsarIncident
    And that is the entire extent to which the House of Commons addressed the event. After the inquiry, no further response was offered.

    An apology is essential, it is overdue, it should be made immediately. Today's Indian press says as much:


    Jallianwala Bagh Massacre a ‘shameful scar’: British envoy expresses regret but non-committal on apology

    Earlier in the day, President Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra and several other leaders paid tributes to the martyrs of the massacre.

    SNS Web | New Delhi | April 13, 2019 1:28 pm

    The British government, even after 100 years, has only regretted the massacre but stopped short of apologising for the killing of so many innocent people.

    Rejecting the regret expressed by British Prime Minister Theresa May as “inadequate”, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Friday demanded “an unequivocal official apology from Britain”.

    https://www.thestatesman.com/world/j...502745109.html
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    Re: The massacre at Amritsar, 13th April 1919

    If the Brirish government start apologising for the sins of empire then where do you stop never mind where do you start? The present government is not responsible for the actions of past governments any more then present day germans are responsible for the holocaust. You don't apologise for hings you haven't done what would be better is to take of the rose tinted spectacles and teach the history properly rather than the delusion that the british emnpire was somehow better than all the other empires because we were not as nasty as the french or spanish and everybody now speaks english.

    Present day americans are not reponsible for how their ancestors treated natiuve americans or for black slavery they are responsible for what they do now. Presenty day catholivs arte not responsible for all the misery caused by the church in the past any more than the present day protestants are for theirs. They are for what they do now.

    What would be more constructiuve is to stop acting like the empire was wonderful and selling arms to oppressive states like saudi arabia and then pretending it's nothing to do with is us if they use them to attack their neighbours like yemen and oppress their people. Maybe we should apologise to iraq for invading on the obvious lie that they had weapons of mass destruction when not too long before we were encouiraging them to go to war with iran.

    I always think the best way to look at historical events is ask yourself what you would have done had you been alive then and the answer is not always that simple to come up with. You can't put a 21st century perspective on the past and judge imo.

    On the other hand we are now seeing the rise of fascism and hate based politics, nothing is ever new but this time we have the lessons of the past and people are more aware than at any time in our history where than can lead Better tp worry about the future and learn from the past than waste time apologising for things we didn't do.

    As a further point maybe we should apologise for armitsar about the same time the indian government apologises for the way it treats the untouchables and for the massacrtes of muslims during partition.

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    Re: The massacre at Amritsar, 13th April 1919

    Quote Originally Posted by gmc View Post
    If the Brirish government start apologising for the sins of empire then where do you stop never mind where do you start? The present government is not responsible for the actions of past governments any more then present day germans are responsible for the holocaust.
    The British Government isn't expected to apologize on its own behalf, it's expected to apologize on behalf of the nation as a whole. It is the nation as a whole that is held responsible for the action of the British Army. The fact that the army and government of the day stood behind General Dyer instead of court-marshalling and jailing him is a stain on this country but not relevant to the unjustifiable continuing lack of an apology. Today would be a good day to atone as far as remains possible.
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    Re: The massacre at Amritsar, 13th April 1919

    Quote Originally Posted by spot View Post
    The British Government isn't expected to apologize on its own behalf, it's expected to apologize on behalf of the nation as a whole. It is the nation as a whole that is held responsible for the action of the British Army. The fact that the army and government of the day stood behind General Dyer instead of court-marshalling and jailing him is a stain on this country but not relevant to the unjustifiable continuing lack of an apology. Today would be a good day to atone as far as remains possible.
    Bear in mind the UK at this point was not a democracy so who or what is this nation you speak of?

    In that case do you hold the german nation as a whole responsible for the holocaust? Do you think the american nation as a whole should apologise to native americans and return their country to them? Should the spanish apologise and send back all the gold taken from south america? Should the english apologise for starting the slave trade instead of patting themselves on the back for aboloshing it in 1805 after it bacame what we now call british? Should the british apologise for extermination the native tasmanians (oh no we can't) should the maori apologise for wiping out the cook islanders?

    The nation didn't do this our ruling elites did, the same ruling elite that sentthe black and tans in to ireland and had tanks ready on the streets of glasgow ready tro open fire on the red clydesiders.

    The nation has sod all to apologise for we were not responsible for the actions of our government we couldn't have stopped it nor held them to account.

    Children are not responsible for the sins/actions of the parents even if christians like to believe they are. Nor are the present day inhabitants of these islands responsibe for what was done in the past supposedly in their name. It's a red herring that diverts attention from what is being done inmour name today. We're still at it.

    Good grief we even have tory politicains delighting in calling perfidious albion to wreck the eu. That is nsomething we should be ashamed off.

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    Re: The massacre at Amritsar, 13th April 1919

    Quote Originally Posted by gmc View Post
    Bear in mind the UK at this point was not a democracy so who or what is this nation you speak of?

    In that case do you hold the german nation as a whole responsible for the holocaust? Do you think the american nation as a whole should apologise to native americans and return their country to them? Should the spanish apologise and send back all the gold taken from south america? Should the english apologise for starting the slave trade instead of patting themselves on the back for aboloshing it in 1805 after it bacame what we now call british? Should the british apologise for extermination the native tasmanians (oh no we can't) should the maori apologise for wiping out the cook islanders?
    The UK wasn't a democracy in 1919?

    I exempt the women, the children, those held in jail, the mentally insane and the Monarch from responsibility then, if that helps. Everyone else had a vote.

    As far as your list goes, yes, of course I do and of course they ought.
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    Re: The massacre at Amritsar, 13th April 1919

    The thread will benefit by the inclusion of a speech of Winston Churchill to a Parliamentary Committee after the publication of the enquiry report. I have copied it rather than linked to the original at http://lachlan.bluehaze.com.au/churchill/am-text.htm
    because the original formatting makes it difficult to reed. The entire text of the speech is well worth the effort.


    Following extracts taken from Hansard House of Commons (U.K.) Proceedings July 8th, 1920, Supply-Committee, Punjab Disturbances, pp 1719 - 1734

    This includes the end of Sir E. Carson's speech, Churchill's complete speech and the start of Asquith's speech.

    [Sir E. Carson] And then it goes on;

    "uncertainty, as concerns India, is in the air. its influence on the situation is unmistakable. Arms are lacking, it is true, but India has the will and determination to expel England."

    If that is a true statement of face - I am not now arguing the causes of it or the policy of my right hon. Friend in trying to alleviate the situation there by the Act that was passed last year through this House - all these matters are outside the domain of the soldier. But for Heaven's sake, when you put a soldier into this difficult position, do not visit punishment upon him for attempting to the best of his ability to deal with a situation for which he is not in the slightest degree responsible. Although he may make an error of judgement, if you have the full idea that he is bona fide - and you can see it was impossible for him under the circumstances calmly to make up his mind in the way you would like, but do not punish him, do not break him. I should like to ask my right hon. Friend if men are to be punished for errors of judgement such as occurred in this case how many right hon. Gentlemen sitting on that Bench would escape? So far as I am concerned, I am not going further in this matter; I hope we may not get off on a false issue. I am speaking of a man who in his long service has increased the confidence he had gained of those under whom he was serving, who had won the approval of the Lieut. Governor of the Province - who was acquainted with the whole fact - and who had got the approval of his Divisional Commander and of the Commander-in-Chief. I say to break a man under the circumstances of this case is un-English.

    The SECRETARY of STATE for WAR (Mr Churchill): I think it may make for the convenience of the Debate if I speak at this early period in the 5.00 P.M. afternoon, in order to put the Committee in possession of the views taken by the War Office, and to offer a full explanation of the course they have adopted. I shall certainly endeavour to follow very carefully the advice which my right hon. Friend who has just spoken has given, that we should approach this subject in a calm spirit,

    avoiding passion and avoiding attempts to excite prejudice - that we should address ourselves to the subject with a desire to do to-day what is most in accordance with the long view of the general interests of the British Empire. There has not been, I suppose, for many years a case of this kind, which has raised so many grave and wide issues, or in regard to which a right and wise decision is so necessary in the general interest. There is the intensity of racial feeling which has been aroused on both sides of India. Every word we speak ought to have regard to that. There are the difficulties of military officers who, in these turbulent times, have been or are likely to be called upon to handle their troops in the suppression of civil disturbance. There are the requirements of justice, and fair play towards an individual. There are the moral and humanitarian conceptions which are involved. All these, combined, make the task of the Government and of the Committee one of exceptional seriousness, delicacy, and responsibility.

    I will deal first with the action of the Army Council, for which I accept full responsibility. The conduct of a military officer may be dealt with in three perfectly distinct spheres. First of all, he may be removed from his employment or his appointment, relegated to half pay, and told that he has no prospects of being employed again. This may be done to him by a simple administrative act. It is sufficient for the competent superior authority to decide that the interests of the public service would be better served if someone else were appointed in his stead, to justify and complete the taking of such a step. The officer in question has no redress. He has no claim to a court or inquiry or a court martial. He has no protection of any kind against being deprived of his appointment, and being informed that he has no further prospects of getting another. This procedure may seem somewhat harsh, but a little reflection will show that it is inevitable. There is no excuse for superior authority not choosing the most suitable agents for particular duties, and not removing unsuitable agents from particular duties. During the War, as every Member of the Committee knows, hundreds, and probably thousands, of officers have been so dealt with by their superiors; and since the War, the tremendous contraction of the Army has

    imposed similar hardships on hundreds, and possibly thousands, of officers against whom not one word of reproach could be uttered, and whose careers in many cases have been careers of real distinction and of invariable good service. This applies to all appointments in the Army, and, I have no doubt, in the Navy, too, and it applies with increasing severity in proportion as the appointments are high ones. From the humble lance-corporal, who reverts to private by a stroke of the pen, from the regimental adjutant, if the colonel things he would prefer some other subaltern, up to the highest General or Field-Marshal, all officers are amenable to this procedure in regard to the appointments which they hold. The procedure is well understood. It is hardly ever challenged. It is not challenged by General Dyer in his statement. It is accepted with soldierly fortitude, because it is believed, on the whole, that the administration of these great responsibilities is carried out in a fair and honest spirit. Indeed, when one thinks of the hundreds of officers of high rank who, in the last year, have had their professional careers brought abruptly and finally to a close, and the patience, good temper and dignity with which this great personal misfortune has been borne, one cannot help feeling a great admiration for the profession of arms to which those officers belong. That is the first methods by which military officers may be dealt with. Under it, the officer reverts automatically to half pay, and, in a very large proportion of cases, having reverted to half pay, he applies to be placed on retired pay, because, especially in the case of senior officers, retired pay is often appreciably higher than half pay.

    I now come to the second method. The second method is of a more serious character, and it affects, not the employment of an officer, but his status and his rank. Here is it not a question of choosing the right man for a particular job, but of retiring an officer compulsorily from the Service, or imposing on him some reduction or forfeiture in his pension or retired pay. In this case the officer is protected, under Article 527 of the Royal Warrant, by the fact that it is necessary for three members of the Army Council to approve the proceeding, and by certain rights of laying his case before them. All the same, the Secretary of State for

    the time being, by virtue of his office, has the power to make a submission direct to the Crown, and advise that an officer be retired compulsorily, or simply that his name be removed from the list, His Majesty having no further use for his services.

    Mr. BOTTOMLEY: What has all this to do with General Dyer - I mean with the specific case we are dealing with?

    Mr. CHURCHILL: I have great respect for the Committee, and I do not believe it will refuse to allow a Minister or a Government to unfold a reasoned and solid argument to its attention and I am surprised that my hon. Friend, who himself takes a not undistinguished part in Debates, should not appreciate the fact, and should not be willing to facilitate my doing so.

    I was saying that that is the second method, in which the personal reputation of an officer is undoubtedly affected. The third method is of a definitely penal character. Honour, liberty, life, are affected. Cashiering, imprisonment, or the death penalty may be involved, and for this third category, of course, the whole resources and protection which judicial procedure, lawful tribunals, and British justice accord to an accused person are brought into play. Those are the three different levels of procedure in regard to the treatment of the conduct of officers. Although my hon. Friend has not seen the relevance of it, I think it right, at the outset, to unfold these distinctions very carefully to the Committee, and to ask the Committee to bear them attentively in mind.

    Coming to the case of General Dyer, it will be seen that he was removed from his appointment by the Commander-in-Chief in India; that he was passed over by the Selection Board in India for promotion; that he was informed, as hundreds of officers are being and have been informed, that there was no prospect of further employment for him under the Government of India; and that, in consequence, he reverted automatically to half-pay. These proceedings were brought formally to the notice of the Army council by a letter from the India Office, which recommended, further, that he should be retired from the Army, and by a telegram from the Commander-in-Chief in India, which similarly recommended that he should be ordered to retire.

    Mr. GWYNNE: What was the date?

    Mr. CHURCHILL: That was about a month ago. At a later page it was brought publicly to the notice of the Army Council by the published despatch of the Secretary of State for India, which stated that the circumstances of the case had been referred to the Army Council. The first step taken by the Army council was to direct General Dyer - we had an application from him that he desired to take this course - to submit a statement of his case for their consideration. That statement is, I think, in the possession of the Committee at the present time. We asked him to make that statement, and we accepted his request that he should be allowed to make it, because we felt that, if any action was to be taken against General Dyer, apart from removing him from his appointments and employment in India - which is a matter of selection - if any action under the second of the three methods I have described was to be taken against him, it was essential that he should furnish a statement in his own behalf, and should be judged upon that, and not upon evidence which he had given as a witness in an inquiry before which he had been summoned without having any reason to believe that he was cited as an incriminating party. The conclusions of the Hunter Committee might furnish the fullest justification for removing him
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    Re: The massacre at Amritsar, 13th April 1919

    How does that benefit the thread? The facts of the massacre are not in dispute nor are the attitudes of the population at the time - after what they had just been through most ordinary people probably didn't give a **** what happened elseqwhere in the world although I note the labour party condemned the act. You can't rewrite history nor should you forget it or colour it pretty but going back and apologising for things done 100 years ago isn't going to change anything and those who did it are long gone.

    "Apologise comes from Greek word apologia, which means "a speech in defense of something." So use the verb apologise if you are making an excuse for, defending, or explaining some action. "

    To our eyes it was indefensible for those around at the time especially those who beleived in the empire and britains right to rule the matter was not so black and white. There's an awful lot of things we did in the name of empire that some say we should perhaps apologise for but we didn't do them any more than the germans today are responsible for the holocaust. What we should do to honour the memories lost in atrocities in the past by not forgetting or pretend they didn't happen or wasn't all that bad and help people realise it could all happen again.

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    Re: The massacre at Amritsar, 13th April 1919

    It seems that expecting apologies from everybody for all the harm done by somebody many years back is a bit ridiculous.


    Instead, I think that events of the past should be acknowledged and the existing entities and organizations should be pledging to see that such things are never allowed to occur, again.

    That will be a challenge all its own.
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    Re: The massacre at Amritsar, 13th April 1919

    Quote Originally Posted by gmc View Post
    apologising for things done 100 years ago isn't going to change anything and those who did it are long gone.

    "Apologise comes from Greek word apologia, which means "a speech in defense of something." So use the verb apologise if you are making an excuse for, defending, or explaining some action. "

    To our eyes it was indefensible for those around at the time especially those who beleived in the empire and britains right to rule the matter was not so black and white. There's an awful lot of things we did in the name of empire that some say we should perhaps apologise for but we didn't do them any more than the germans today are responsible for the holocaust. What we should do to honour the memories lost in atrocities in the past by not forgetting or pretend they didn't happen or wasn't all that bad and help people realise it could all happen again.
    We evidently disagree on the need to apologize. You seem to think that because a person is of another generation and wasn't there, didn't participate, had no say in the matter, it's none of his affair. You feel there is no continuity between the group of people, "nation" in this case, who were there when it happened and who were culpable, and so they have no connection with their descendants today and that an apology from these descendants - I use the vanilla English meaning of apology rather than the root from which it is derived - would be meaningless and pointless.

    I suggest otherwise. I suggest that the average person in Britain today has a far higher standard of living as a direct result of their forefathers running the slave trade and the plantations, massacring millions of third world first peoples on assorted continents, and operating the Empire to their economic advantage over several centuries. On the other side the average person descended from those third world first peoples on assorted continents is unborn, never allowed life to start with, destroyed by a simple lack of parents, and that those who actually made it onto the planet have far fewer natural and financial resources than they would have had by now if our nation had behaved ethically.

    A practical form of recompense would be a transfer of economic power to those descendants. I can well understand you might prefer to keep the loot and live the life of Riley off its back. An unvarnished apology, nation to nation, would even so go a part of the way to putting the matter to bed.
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    Re: The massacre at Amritsar, 13th April 1919

    Register to remove this ad.
    I'm not alone on this suggestion:

    India marks colonial massacre centenary, Britain makes no apology

    The massacre of hundreds became a symbol of colonial cruelty and for decades India has demanded an apology from Britain.


    "a day of infamy that stunned the entire world and changed the course of the Indian freedom struggle".

    And if anyone asks me, we should apologize for declaring war on Germany in 1914 as well. Absolutely nothing good came of that either.

    I note that The UK junior foreign minister Mark Field said on Tuesday that an apology could have financial implications and that “we debase the currency of apologies if we make them for many events”. Mark Field should resign too for such a dismissive attitude to such a world-class disgusting atrocity.
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    Who has a spare two minutes to play in this month's FG Trivia game!

    The watch of your vision has become reasonable today.

    It’s normal. You must provoke. You must insult the belief of all monotheists. You must make fun of the belief of all monotheists.
    From the upper tier of the Leppings Lane End of the Hillsborough Stadium, I watched the events of that day unfold with horror.
    When the flowers want to oxygen and nutrition, or you’re a wedding or party planner, I will help you too much.
    Write that word in the blood

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