UK Cites Former PM’s Words to Reiterate Stance on Jallianwala Bagh; Avoids Apology

The UK foreign office statement comes a day after London Mayor Sadiq Khan's visit to Amritsar.


The United Kingdom government tiptoed around the issue of offering apology for the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, saying that the government has in the past “rightly condemned” the “deeply shameful act.” London Mayor Sadiq Khan called for an official apology from the UK government for the 1919 incident during his visit to Amritsar earlier this week.

The UK foreign office issued a statement on Dec. 7, referring to former Prime Minister David Cameron, that said: “As the former Prime Minister said when he visited Jallianwala Bagh in 2013, the massacre was a deeply shameful act in British history and one that we should never forget. It is right that we pay respect to those who lost their lives and remember what happened. The British government rightly condemned the events at the time.”

Cameron had said during his India visit in 2013 that it would not be right to “reach back into history” and apologize for the wrongs of British colonialism.

The former Prime Minister was a Conservative while Khan is from Labour Party. “This is about properly acknowledging what happened here and giving the people of Amritsar and India the closure they need through a formal apology,” he said during his visit. Khan also criticized the United Kingdom’s visa policy during the tour.

Labour MP Virendra Sharma, who is of Indian origin, launched a petition earlier this year on the UK government website, saying if the number of signatures reaches 10,000, the government would have to respond. If the petition reaches 100,000, it should be a topic in the House of Commons debate.

“In 1919 Colonel Dyer ordered his men to fire, and maybe 1,000 peaceful protesters were left dead. At the time Winston Churchill proclaimed the massacre ‘monstrous’ and the British government condemned Dyer for his actions, but no apology has since been forthcoming. It is now time to apologize,” the petition says.

The petition has attracted 1,778 signatures so far.

Khan, who undertook a three-city tour of India and Pakistan, is the first British mayor to lead a trade mission to both the countries.

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