by Humphrey McQueen
Canberra 30 May 2017
The Boer War memorial along Canberra’s Anzac Parade includes statues of four horsemen to represent an Australian patrol on the Veldt. What truth demands is a Boer War memorial with the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse to recall the 25,000 Boer women and children and at least 15,000 black Africans who died in British concentration camps.
Around the base of any memorial should be the 1902 words of Britain’s Liberal leader Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, prime minister from 1905-08: ‘When is a war not a war? When it is carried on by the methods of barbarism, as it is in South Africa.’
The Boer War display at the Australian War Memorial records the top-level conspiracy behind the 1895 Jameson Raid to seize the Transvaal for the
gold discovered at Witwatersrand nine years before. The concentration camps are mentioned but no death toll is given.
The execution of ‘Breaker’ Morant distracts from a strategy of atrocities and war crimes, just as Lt Calley and My Lai did for the ecocide waged against the Indo-Chinese. In 2001, the Australian War Memorial asked visitors to vote whether they thought Morant should have been shot. The question should have been whether the British cabinet and generals should have been hanged.
In any half-civilised society, the promoters of the memorial would be charged with complicity in genocide.