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Burma-Siam Atrocities

By ROHAN D. RIVETT, formerly of THE ARGUS, who was sole British

war correspondent among the prisoners in Burma and Siam, and who has just returned after three and a half years in the hands of the Japanese.

I accuse the Japanese POW authori- ties in Burma, Siam, and at head- quarters in Tokyo:

(1) Of sending 60,000 European officers and men into Burma and Siam without provision for their welfare, supply, medical care, or


(2) Of seeking to debase and humiliate Allied officers and other ranks to the level of beasts under the eyes of the local Asiatic popula- tion, and, in defiance of all inter- national agreements, of treating war prisoners as common criminals sen- tenced to hard labour, officers being compelled to work under the eyes of the local Asiatics naked except for a loin cloth and wooden clogs.

(3) Of setting a ration scale totally inadequate for white men labouring under tropical conditions, and of allowing the actual supply to fall far below even this scale, thanks to the interminable "squeeze," racketeering, theft, and maladminis- tration of POW rations.

(4) Of leaving many camps for months on end without meat, green vegetables, oil, sugar, or protein foods of any kind, the ration of rice, melons, and jungle roots sup- plied being inadequate to support European life in such conditions.

(5) Of leaving prisoners in rags without hats, shirts, pants, coats, blankets, or boots through the rains and through the cold nights lasting from November until March.

(6) Of crowding POW's in a fashion which made mass infection and epidemics inevitable, in bamboo attap huts which were verminous, leaky, and often flooded.

(7) Of rejecting and obstructing

the demands of POW's for establish- ment of reasonable hygienic and sanitary arrangements in camp


(8) Of repeatedly ignoring the desperate pleas of qualified Allied medical officers for even a small fraction of the essential requisites for their battle against dysentery, malaria, beri beri, cholera, and tropical ulcers.

(9) Of allowing ignorant officers, NCO's, and even privates to over- rule Allied medical officers and drive out to work diseased and debilitated men, often totally unfit to walk.

(10) Of allowing and sometimes organising the wholesale misappro- priation of Red Cross foodstuffs, clothes, comforts, and medical sup- plies designed for the prisoners, many prisoners receiving no Red Cross goods whatever until Decem- ber, 1943, and all prisoners receiv- ing very little thereafter, only one sixth of one Red Cross parcel being received by all prisoners during 42 months' captivity.

(11) Of providing Japanese front- line troops, engineers, and guards with Red Cross boots, cigarettes, and medical stores sent to POW's, for

lack of which thousands of prisoners,


(12) Of denying prisoners mail even years old through a capricious, sporadic censorship which kept letters lying sometimes for years within a few yards of the men for whom they were intended, thus add- ing a tremendous mental strain and worry to the prisoners' physical


(13) Of encouraging the most brutal beatings with bamboos, tool handles, and fists for the smallest offences or imagined offence, and giving the fullest licence to the sadistic bullies specially placed in all camps, while cynically ignoring repeated official protests.

(14) Of shooting or bayoneting to death prisoners caught outside camp bounds, including several men mentally unhinged by cerebral malaria wandering about without any idea of escape.

(15) Of permitting to go un- punished several individual guards who committed cold-blooded mur- ders or inflicted permanent bodily injury on their helpless captives.

(16) Of deliberately placing prison camps against and amid major mili- tary objectives without allowing any identification marks even for the hospitals, where hundreds lay help-


(17) Of ignoring or making fun of protests when as a result of this practice camps were bombed and prisoners killed and maimed in con- siderable numbers.

(18) Of deliberately seeking lo break the prisoners' morale by in- numerable petty restrictions and senseless deprivations which marred the scanty recreation hours, and of constantly obstructing every effort of the prisoners' own administra- tions to alleviate conditions.

(19) Of giving promises and assur- ances regarding the future which were subsequently repudiated or ignored so that the prisoners' own administrations were often helpless before a wall of dishonesty chicanery, and lies against which their best efforts were unavailing.

(20) Of totally disregarding all conventions concerning prisoners, including the Hague agreement, to which Japan was a signatory, and of stating repeatedly that the Japan- ese army was not bound by its own government's signature.

Specific Japanese officers in Burma and Siam indictable under many or all of these counts are:

The general of engineers command- ing all Siam POW's 1942-1944;

Colonel Sugasawa, commanding all prisoners 1944-1945;

Colonel Y. Nagatomo, commanding all Burma prisoners 1942-1943;

And Captains Mizdani, Neguchi, Naito, and Lieutenants Heguchi, Hochi, Hosoda, Motogima, Sezuki Teruehi, Komi, Kanematsu, and Takahatchi.

A full list of officers, NCO's. and privates indictable under these headings to the number of at least 100 should be available to the mili- tary authorities in Siam within the

next few weeks.

There are still 40,000 living wit- nesses—British, Australian, Ameri- can, and Dutch—to the truth of these charges. But even more un- impeachable testimony comes silently from the 15,000 jungle graves along the Burma-Siam railway.