Brutal Truth: 35 Harrowing Facts About Colonial Governments & the Devastation of Colonialism

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26Treaty of Zaragoza

Treaty of Zaragoza

Portuguese and Spanish empires were once so powerful that in 1529 they signed the Treaty of Tordesillas to split the world into two parts. The border between Indonesia and Papua New Guinea was indirectly set by the Treaty of Zaragoza.


27. The locals of the Yap islands use large donut shaped stones weighing up to 4 tons as currency. Rather than exchange them, they just note who the owner is. When Germany colonized the island, they imposed fines on the Yapese by marking these stones with paint indicating that they belonged to Germany. The islanders who "lost their fortunes" quickly acquiesced.


28. The 1947 British partition of India was driven by fear of civil war. Yet, in haste, borders drawn by the English colonial rulers went unannounced for days after independence. As a result, Hindus didn't know if they would wake up one day in Pakistan, or Muslims in India. 15 million people were displaced and over a million died in the chaos.


29. In 1857, the British rulers panicked when they found a network of Indians passing Chapatis (flatbread) from village to village for no reason. The 'Chapati Movement' was credited when rebellion broke out later that year. Historians now say that the events were completely unrelated.


30. The Benin Walls were four times longer than the Great Wall of China and consumed a hundred times more material than the Great Pyramid of Cheops. They were ravaged by the British in 1897 during what has come to be called the Punitive expedition.


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31Yekatit 12

Yekatit 12

In 1937, two men in the Italian occupied Ethiopia tried to kill the Italian Viceroy. In response, the Italian army and Italian civilians went on a killing spree, burning down houses, and killing an estimated 20% of the population of Addis Ababa including sympathetic Ethiopians. Estimates of death range from 19,200 to 30,000 Ethiopian. Italy still downplays the massacre.


32. In 1603, the Spanish and Japanese massacred an estimated 20,000 Chinese in the Philippines during the Sangley Rebellion.


33. As part of the Briggs Plan, the military forces of the British Empire interned 10% of Malaysia's population in an attempt to cut off support for guerillas during the Anti-British National Liberation War.


34. In 1904, when the British invaded Tibet, Tibetan forces opposed them with matchlock rifles whereas the British had machine guns. One of the battles ended with 12 injured British soldiers and somewhere between 600 and 700 dead Tibetans.


35. In 1781, the crew of the British slave ship Zong threw 133 slaves overboard into the Caribbean Sea, in part because they were running low on fresh water, but also to collect insurance on them at £30 ahead.

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