x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Files reveal dark side of British empire

Thousands of British colonial-era files have been discovered recently that highlight the brutality of action against Eoka fighters and Cypriot civilians.

Thousands of British colonial-era files have been discovered recently that highlight the brutality of action against Eoka fighters and Cypriot civilians.

The archive contains accounts from the British police and military officials who committed the abuses.

In an infamous incident in 1958, British troops beat up 300 Greek Cypriot civilians after the wife of a British sergeant was shot dead in Famagusta, the files show.

The episode led to three deaths, including that of a 12-year-old girl who died from shock, and a 17-year-old boy who was fatally wounded when his skull was fractured.

Torture allegations from 1956, meanwhile, include the punching of a pregnant woman, causing her to miscarry, and a man beaten on his thighs with a thick piece of wood. He claimed that he was held at gunpoint. The complaint concludes: "Trigger pressed. Blank chamber."

No British soldier or policeman was prosecuted for torture during the Eoka uprising, although two officers of the Gordon Highlanders were court-martialled and found guilty of causing actual bodily harm.

* Michael Theodoulou