The British genocide

Genocide: the deliberate killing of a large group of people, especially those of a particular nation or ethnic group.
Oxford English Dictionary

I was in the Republic of Georgia in the months preceding Russia’s invasion in 2008. The international intelligence agencies had been warning the Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili not to succumb to Russian provocation.

In the north of the country, there are two breakaway regions, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and Russia was using these to escalate the potential conflict, sending in troops under the pretext of providing assistance, and shooting down an unmanned drone on April 21, 2008[1]2008 Georgia Russia Conflict Fast Facts.

On August 7, 2008 Saakashvili sent troops into South Ossetia, and Russia responded, invading Georgia.

There were two Boer wars in South Africa. In the first in the early 1880s, the Boers had defeated the British[2]The Boer Wars, as the Americans had one hundred years before.

This rankled with the British public, and Joseph Chamberlain, Britain’s Colonial Secretary escalated this public tension to overcome resistance in the cabinet to his tactical provocation of a second war against the Boers. His pretext for the war was that foreigners who had rushed to Transvaal, the Boer republic where gold was discovered in 1886, were not allowed to vote[3]The Scramble for Africa pg 560.

When Kruger, the Transvaal’s president offered foreigners the right to vote after five years residence, Chamberlain rejected the proposal, and convinced the British cabinet to send troops.

Initially, during the conventional phase of the war, the Boers once again beat the British in a series of humiliating defeats. So the British sent in more troops, until they had raised the Union Jack over Pretoria, the capital of the Transvaal.

But the war was not over. The Boers resorted to the guerrilla tactics that they had used so successfully in the First Boer War.

War is about logistics[4]Why America lost the war in Afghanistan, and the Boers and the British understood this. The Boers targeted the trains carrying supplies and troops. 

The British, under Lord Kitchener, burned the farms, and put the women and children in concentration camps. There was a deliberate policy of starving the Boer women and children. War refugees were provided with one scale of rations, the Boer internees with dangerously low levels of food[5]The Scramble for Africa pg 577.

In the unhealthy conditions, typhoid and amongst the children, measles, took a terrible toll.

Forty eight thousand died in a space of seven months. At first the Minister of War claimed that the Boer women and children had entered the camps voluntarily. Lloyd George, the leader of the opposition exposed this as humbug[6]The Scramble for Africa pg 578.

Emily Hobhouse visited the concentration camps and exposed them for what they were. 

Kitchener’s strategy worked. Deprived of their logistical support, the Boer resistance collapsed. Instead of being tried as the war criminal that he was, Kitchener was rewarded with £50,000 (£7,862,780 today[7]CPI Inflation Calculator) and a viscountcy. 

In 2023. the ICC rightfully issued an arrest warrant for war crimes against Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, for illegal deportation of children[8]ICC judges issue arrest warrant for Putin over war crimes in Ukraine.

In seeking redress against Putin, the British must acknowledge their own acts of disgrace.