Being British

History, Politics

In 1941, 17 year old Diana Elias was among the 19,000 British civilians captured by the Japanese in Hong Kong for being British. She was interred in Stanley Camp, and was forced to work on the Railway of Death” between Thailand and Burma.

In 2000, the UK Government announced a compensation of £10,000 to British civilians interred during the war, as a debt of honor.’ However:

Several months after details of the scheme were published, the government decreed that claimants should show a blood link’ with this country

Which disqualified the 83 year old Diana, because her parents are of Indian and Iraqi heritage and she was born in Hong Kong, . Apparently she was British enough to be interred, but not British enough to receive a debt of honor.’ In 2005, she took her case to the Parliamentary Ombudsman and received her compensation. You can listen to Diana on BBC radio regarding the case. Diana is now pursuing the case in court to get the Ministry of Defense to acknowledge that the blood-link rule is racist, and among other things apologize.

You can read parts of her witness statement here.