Here
and
Now

opinions

Colonized countries rarely ask for redress over past wrongs − the reasons can be complex

7 Comments
By Manjari Chatterjee Miller

The requested article has expired, and is no longer available. Any related articles, and user comments are shown below.

© The Conversation

©2024 GPlusMedia Inc.

7 Comments
Login to comment

The answer lies in the fact that colonial pasts and atoning for injustices are controversial – not just in what were perpetrator countries, but also in their victims. What to ask redress for, from whom and for whom are complicated questions with no easy answers. And there are often divergent narratives within victim countries about how to view past colonial history.

The issue of colonization reparations has been considered for years now in both international law and international relations. But there are problems, as this author suggests. Two of which are particularly daunting, stemming from what happened post-colonization: proximate cause and benefits that reparations may provide won’t help now.

First, proximate cause. Seen frequently as a pleaded defense in criminal law, it basically argues that the victim would not have died or suffered grievous injury but-for the ‘care’ the victim received by others afterwards. We can and should agree that countries that colonized others were a proximate cause of misery, suffering and death, realized by the country's inhabitants at the time. By it's nature, it does not explain other contributing causes and factors surrounding this original grievance. The one seen most often is the treatment the inhabitants received in the hands of in-country factions that were not sanctioned by the colonizer. Such as other tribes, allegiances, and cartels that were in fight-mode, and revolution-mode (and often brutally fighting one-another), to the detriment of the civilization population.

Plainly said, many of these were just as - if not more - brutal to the population, than the colonizer.

A second closely related problem is the leadership in charge since colonization took place. It is not an understatement that many postcolonial nations were (and some still are) ruled by brutal dictators, that continued power struggles with opposing factions for years following independence. All-too-often, occupants of the nation-state couldn’t tell one set of brutes against the preceding ones, and the ones that followed that.

Many atrocities committed back centuries in historic time were not well-documented, and are often hearsay advanced by oral tradition down through the ages. Who-did-what outrage? Often lost in the fog of rebellion and civil war.

Next, is benefits won’t help now. The current-day dilemma of getting any agreed-to tangible restitution to those who suffered the most. Frankly stated, some of these post-colonized nations are currently managed by those whose own human rights abuses and mismanagement of public monies, as graft and corruption, is so well known, it is beyond any reasonable doubt. Their interception of any reparations is nearly a foregone conclusion, and would likely fuel (and further) regional unrest, armed conflict, and/or international crime.

Considering all of the above, former colonial powers are effectively dissuaded from considering the country’s redress case at all.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

How would you ever decide on a formula and who should pay? The UK cannot afford to pay everyone in India a meaningful sum, and what about those Britons who have a least partial claim to have had nothing to do with it?

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Well the basic premise, that Colonization in that time/context was necessarily a net bad thing, is flawed to begin with. Noone denies there were wrongs committed, in the past, by people long gone.

Similarly, the UK isnt asking for reparations for the Roman empire.

Or is this just a white guilt trip?

It is getting tedious.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

The Ottomans owe big time. Most of the problems in the Middle East today can be traced back to the collapse of their empire early in the 20th century and the chaos and carnage that ensued, 400 years after they had colonized the region. In the meantime, the Ottomans systemically and extensively enslaved peoples across the Balkans and eastern Africa for hundreds of years. Make the Turks pay!

And don’t get me started on the Mughals.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

And don’t get me started on the Mughals.

And what exactly do you know about the Mughals? Unless you meant the Mongols.

Most of the problems in the Middle East today can be traced back to the collapse of their empire early in the 20th century and the chaos and carnage that ensued

Yeah and the British Empire had a role to play in their collapse.

Apologists for Western colonialism will be out in full force on such articles. The fact is that all empires conquered, and all empires had brutal aspects, but the pre-Western colonial empires conquered and became an integral part of the regions they conquered.

Yuan dynasty of China and the Mughals of India for example.

But the West, they came preaching their bogus sermons of being on a civilizing mission, they carted away all the wealth that they could and when they could not do it any more, they left behind a mess which still has not been cleaned up.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

> TaiwanIsNotChinaDec. 8  11:32 am JST

How would you ever decide on a formula and who should pay? The UK cannot afford to pay everyone in India a meaningful sum, and what about those Britons who have a least partial claim to have had nothing to do with it?

We can't undo the past abuses nor give excuses for them. We can't bring things back to where it was. But we can and must face the past history - good, bad, ugly. Quit whitewashing it and learn to accept each other as God's children, with no one being superior or inferior to anyone.

An apology from current leaders can't solve or undo all that but it's better than nothing at all.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

starpunkToday 04:49 am JST

I bet most colonizers have apologized at at least some government level to their colonies. It shouldn't turn into something where it has to be mentioned by every official at every interaction.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites