April 13, Today, we remember a dark day in the UK’s history. As Prime Minister Theresa May said earlier this week, the tragedy that occurred at Jallianwala Bagh a hundred years ago is a ‘shameful scar’ on the UK’s past. We deeply regret what happened.
It was an event whose brutality was recognised at the time, and has been repeatedly to this day. On this anniversary, I take heart from the consistency and strength of my government’s regret across time and across the political spectrum.
My great-grandfather HH Asquith, who was Prime Minister between 1908 and 1916, called it “one of the worst outrages in the whole of our history”. Her Majesty the Queen has spoken of it as a distressing example of our past history with India, deeply regretting the suffering caused. Former Prime Minister David Cameron described it as a “deeply shameful act”.
The events, our role and its implications are still debated by my country’s leadership to this day, most recently by the House of Lords in February and by Parliament on Tuesday this week. What happened has not been, and will not be, forgotten.On this anniversary, I am conscious of how many there are, not just in India, whose minds are turned towards Amritsar and to the events of April 13, 1919. I approach today with deep sympathy for the victims and their families, and with remorse for the legacy of trauma. I reflect on the shame that my great-grandfather must have felt at the time, and the collective horror of the British people across the last century, on learning how their name has been tarnished.
I will mark the day in my own way, as others will in theirs, with a gesture of commemoration — determined to continue remembering. Yet, as Her Majesty also remarked, we must find a way to learn from our past and look forward: ‘history cannot be rewritten, however much we might sometimes wish otherwise. It has its moments of sadness, as well as gladness. We must learn from the sadness and build on the gladness.’As she said in a different, but similar, context — we must be ‘able to bow to the past, but not be bound by it’.
I believe we are doing so. The relationship between our two countries today is a vigorous partnership, focused on building a more prosperous and secure future for both of us — and for others in the world.
Over the years, the UK has invested in development to tackle poverty and other drivers of conflict. We have sought through our diplomatic network and influence in multilateral organisations to diminish tensions around the world. The intent is to foster environments in which atrocities like Jallianwala Bagh are less likely to take place.
Today is a time to pause, to remember and to regret. But tomorrow I will look forward once again, determined to continue our shared ambition to build a better future.
‘Will never forget’What happened has not been, and will not be, forgotten… Today is a time to pause, remember and regret. But tomorrow I will look forward once again, determined to continue our shared ambition to build a better future. Dominic Asquith
Source: The Tribune