Instances When Former Colonial Powers Expressed ‘Regrets’

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– Britain stops short –

Britain has resisted calls to apologise for abuses under its vast empire, but there have been high-level expressions of regret for specific incidents.

On Tuesday, King Charles said “there were abhorrent and unjustifiable acts of violence committed against Kenyans as they waged… a painful struggle for independence and sovereignty. And for that, there can be no excuse.”

But the monarch stopped short of offering the apology for Britain’s repressive colonial past demanded by some in the East African nation.

Foreign Secretary William Hague had in 2013 expressed in parliament Britain’s “sincere regrets” for a crackdown against the 1950s Mau Mau uprising in Kenya, announcing ¬£20 million ($25 million today) compensation.

The same year, Prime Minister David Cameron described the 1919 shooting by British troops of Indian protesters in Amritsar as “deeply shameful”.

– France on Algeria –

In 2018 President Emmanuel Macron went further than any of his predecessors in recognising the scale of abuses by French troops during Algeria’s 1954-1962 independence war.

But Macron, like his predecessors Nicolas Sarkozy and Francois Hollande, has rejected calls for France to “apologise or repent” for its time in Algeria.

– German¬† massacres in Namibia –

Germany in May 2021 acknowledged that the massacre of Namibia’s indigenous Herero and Nama peoples by colonial-era troops in 1904 was an act of genocide.

And on Wednesday German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier on a visit to Tanzania expressed his “shame” at crimes committed during Germany’s colonial rule in the country.

“I would like to ask for forgiveness for what Germans did to your ancestors here,” he said about the colonisation period during which 200,000 and 300,000 Maji-Maji were massacred, according to historians.

– Australia to Aboriginals –

In 2008 Prime Minister Kevin Rudd delivered an historic apology in parliament to the Aboriginal people for injustices committed over two centuries of white settlement.

“We apologise for the laws and policies of successive parliaments and governments that have inflicted profound grief, suffering and loss on these our fellow Australians,” Rudd said.

– Belgium to DR Congo –

In 2020, on the 60th anniversary of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s independence, Belgium’s King Philippe, in a letter to DRC President Felix Tshisekedi, expressed his “deepest regrets” for his country’s chequered past.

Historians say millions of people were killed, mutilated or died of disease as they were forced to collect rubber under King Leopold II’s rule in the 19th century.

– Dutch apology to Indonesia –

In 2013 The Netherlands apologised to Indonesia for mass killings by its army in the 1940s war of independence, in the first of several apologies for violence during the war.

– Italy to Libya –

In 2008 Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi apologised to Libya for damage during the colonial era.

“It is my duty, as a head of government, to express to you in the name of the Italian people our regret and apologies for the deep wounds that we have caused you,” Berlusconi said.

– Japan’s Korea remorse –

Japan has apologised several times for its 1910-1945 colonial rule of the Korean peninsula, but deep resentment remains over the issue of sex slaves known as “comfort women”.

– Pope seeks forgiveness –

In Bolivia in 2015 and Mexico in 2016 Pope Francis asked for forgiveness for crimes committed in the name of the Catholic Church when Spanish conquerors enslaved indigenous peoples in the Americas.

– Sweden’s Samis –

In 1998 Sweden’s government apologised to the Sami indigenous people for injustices during colonialisation, when they were forced off their land.

– Canada’s children –

In 2008 Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper officially apologised for more than a century of abuses at schools set up to forcibly assimilate indigenous children.

Pope Francis during a July 2022 visit to Canada apologised for abuses at the church-run schools.

Credit: African News

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