The word ‘massacre’ is not usually associated with the British Government and/or its Establishment. If the British Government and or/it Establishment were in any way connected with a massacre then surely our civilized and democratic society would demand an explanation. It is a word we are used to when litigating the Legacy of the Conflict in Northern Ireland – Ballymurphy, Loughgall, Loughinisland, Kingsmills.
This is why today’s event is so important because the Sikh Federation Report “Sacrificing Sikhs: The need for an Investigation” provides us with a further opportunity to press the British Government to establish an independent inquiry into British security force involvement in the June 1984 Massacre of Sikhs at The Golden Temple Amritsar, which the Report provides direct evidence of British involvement including by the SAS and MI5 and a recent ‘Review’ by Sir Jeremy Heywood, head of the civil service which the Sikh Federation consider ‘a whitewash’.
KRW has been pushing for such an investigation for over a year in light of the failings of the Heywood Review of British involvement in the Amritsar Massacre. We have now written to Mark Field Minister for Asia and the Pacific at the FCO to exercise their powers under section1 of the Inquiries Act 2005 to establish a public inquiry. This inquiry must be independent and open and conducted in compliance with human rights standards including those under the ECHR and the associated Strasbourg jurisprudence.
Section 1 (1) IA 2005 states: “A Minister may cause an inquiry to be held under this Act in relation to a case where it appears to him that— (a) particular events have caused, or are capable of causing, public concern, or (b) there is public concern that particular events may have occurred.” We argue those criteria are satisfied in this instance.
In addition, KRW is continuing to access relevant British Government files held by the National Archives at Kew and by the Cabinet Office, which remain closed. An appeal is being resisted by the Cabinet Office who have instructed both senior and junior counsel whilst KRW is acting pro bono.
As Ireland’s leading human rights solicitors in matters of litigation relating to the Legacy of the Conflict we have bene proud to assist the Sikh Federation in this important fight for truth, justice and accountability in order to understand the role of the British government in The Amritsar Massacre – a massacre, not just a ‘post-colonial insurgency over there’ or a ‘little local difficulty’ with its echo of Edmund Burke’s ‘geographical morality’.
Matters of National Security/International Relations/Commerce should not be a barrier when seeking clarity about the moral certainty of a British Government policy and operation leading to massacre of civilians.