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British colonial papers made public

Thursday, April 19, 2012 - 01:48

April 19 - Secret documents made public shed light on how colonial-era Britain ran overseas territories. Travis Brecher reports.

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Britain's Foreign Office has made public thousands of "lost" colonial era files, and the documents reveal efforts to destroy and reclassify sensitive papers. The Foreign Office was forced to admit last year, as a result of a high Court case brought by Kenyans involved in the Mau Mau rebellion, that it held some 8,800 files, which were migrated to Britain from colonies at the time of independence because of their sensitivity. The documents, secretly sent back to the UK when former colonies became independent, shed new light on how British officials ran overseas territories. They include detailed accounts of the policy of seizing livestock of people suspected of aiding the Mau Mau insurgency in Kenya as well as secret plans to deport a Greek Cypriot leader despite starting talks with him to end a violent rebellion in 1955. (SOUNDBITE) (English) PRINCIPAL RECORDS SPECIALIST AT THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES, EDWARD HAMPSHIRE, SAYING: "What is coming through is a range of material on the security, the defence, a whole range of matters across policy, some of which do relate to the Mau Mau uprising and how the British dealt with that." The files also contain concerns of the "anti-American and anti-white" tendency of Kenyan students sent to study in the US in 1959 - the year that US president Barack Obama's Kenyan father enrolled at a university in Hawaii. (SOUNDBITE) (English) PRINCIPAL RECORDS SPECIALIST AT THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES, EDWARD HAMPSHIRE, SAYING: "He went to the University of Hawaii and obviously if this programme had not gone ahead - then he would not have gone to Hawaii and would never have met his future wife and therefore Barack Obama would not have been born." Wednesday's releases are the first of six batches, in a process due to be completed by November 2012. Travis Brecher, Reuters

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British colonial papers made public

Thursday, April 19, 2012 - 01:48