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Britain releases secret files from end of empire

LONDON, Apr 18 – Britain released thousands of classified colonial-era files Wednesday, including one that names Barack Obama’s father and another that warns of “anti-white” Kenyans studying in the United States.

The papers — the existence of which was only revealed last year — cover controversial periods in Britain’s post-imperial history including the Mau Mau uprising in Kenya and the Malayan emergency in the 1950s and 1960s.

British authorities brought the documents back to London at the time of those countries’ independence due to their sensitivity, and the papers show they even planned to burn some of the other classified files.

The Foreign Office only admitted that it held the archives in January 2011 when four elderly Kenyans sued the British government over alleged abuses they suffered in British internment camps.

The cache of 8,800 files is being released in six batches starting Wednesday by Britain’s National Archive and ending in November 2013.

US President Barack Obama’s father appears on a list drawn up by British officials of Kenyan students in the United States as “OBAMA, Barrack H”, British media reported.

Obama senior enrolled at the University of Hawaii in 1959 and married Anne Durham in 1961, with their son born later that year.

A memo from a British diplomat in Washington to London in 1959 sets out concerns about Kenyan students in the United States, the Daily Mail newspaper reported.

“I have discussed with the State Department. They are as disturbed about these developments as we are. They point out that Kenya students have a bad reputation over here for falling into the wrong hands and for becoming both anti-American and anti-white,” it quoted the memo as saying.

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Other papers contain bureaucratic accounts of the British policy of seizing the livestock of people suspected of aiding the 1950-1962 Mau Mau insurgency in Kenya, during which more than 10,000 people were killed.

The papers also revealed efforts to deport Chagos islanders from the British Indian Ocean territories and plans to deport a Greek Cypriot leader to the Seychelles despite launching talks with him to end an uprising in Cyprus in 1955, the BBC reported.

Edward Hampshire, diplomatic and colonial records specialist at the National Archives, said some colonial administrators interpreted “very liberally” guidelines to send back to London anything that would embarrass Britain.

Archivists say documents that appear to be missing include some referring to the alleged 1948 Batang Kali massacre in British-controlled Malaya of 24 unarmed rubber plantation workers by British troops.


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