Page last updated at 11:19 GMT, Friday, 30 January 2009

UK rejects massacre inquiry call

Protesters in Kuala Lumpur
Protesters marked the massacre's 60th anniversary in Kuala Lumpur

Britain has rejected a call for an inquiry into the massacre of villagers by its troops in Malaysia in 1948, the Foreign Office has confirmed.

Activists had demanded an official probe into the deaths of 24 unarmed people in Batang Kali at the hands of 14 members of the Scots Guards.

The country - then known as Malaya - was under British rule at the time.

But the UK government rejected inquiry calls put forward in a petition, citing a lack of new evidence.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: "We have replied to the petition regretting that without new evidence, no further action would be taken by the government.

"The matters have been considered previously by investigations into the Batang Kali massacre in 1949 and 1970 and those investigations found insufficient evidence to pursue prosecution."

Activist co-ordinator Quek Ngee Meng said: "We are absolutely disappointed with this decision.


"The earlier investigations were of a criminal nature but we are not asking for criminal prosecutions as it has been over 60 years.

"All we want is an inquiry to determine the true facts, an apology, compensation and a memorial to the victims."

He said the action committee, made up of activists, politicians and relatives of the victims, is to ask the British government to reconsider before launching a legal case.

Last month, protesters gathered in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur to mark the 60th anniversary of the killings.

The incident occurred on 12 December 1948, six months into a 12-year campaign to crush the largely ethnic Chinese communists, who were trying to drive out British colonialists.

Official accounts describe villagers being killed as they escaped into the jungle, having been warned they would be shot if they tried.

However, survivors recall victims being led out of their homes and shot in the back.

The massacre remained largely forgotten until the People newspaper in 1970 ran an account of the killings, featuring sworn affidavits by several soldiers who admitted the villagers were shot in cold blood.

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