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View Poll Results: Should 'Breaker' Morant be Pardonned?

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  • Yes

    2 20.00%
  • No

    8 80.00%
  • Should not have been shot in the first place

    1 10.00%
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Thread: Should 'Breaker' Morant be pardoned

  1. #1
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    Default Should 'Breaker' Morant be pardoned

    Hey everyone,
    Time to take off the coal scuttle helmet and put on a slouch hat for this one.

    In 1902, Lt Harry 'Breaker' Morant and Lt Peter Handcock of the mainly Australian Bush-Veldt Carbineers were executed in South Aftica by the British - their crime, shooting Boer p.o.w.'s and a German Missionary. A third officer had his death sentence commuted.

    Their defence was that the men were shot in reprisal for the killing and mutilation of a fellow officer, and furthermore that they were ordered not to take prisoners because they would be a liability.

    The verdict was the cause of considerable controversy, particularly in Australia. The surviving officer Lt Witton published a book entitled 'Scapegoats of the Empire' in which he suggested the men were shot to avoid German entry into the war and bring the Boers to the negotiating table.

    In 2010, a petition for a pardon was submitted to the Queen, however despite what was described as a "strong and compelling case" the appeal was rejected in November of that year.

    The interesting thing is that there appears to be little dispute that prisoners were indeed shot, however the case still elicits strong feelings. I wondered what other posters thought. Should they be pardonned or not; or indeed, should they not have been shot in the first place.

    If you would like to know more, the following link is a good starting point:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Breaker_Morant

    Kind regards,

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Should 'Breaker' Morant be pardonned

    Hi heimwehr danzig,
    thank for sharing this informations and for the link you posted. It sounds like an interesting story, that took place in an area and in a period of history almost unknown to me. Good opportunity to learn something...
    Best regards
    Kill one man, terrify a thousand

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Should 'Breaker' Morant be pardonned

    I wouldn't pardon them.

    Leaving aside popular myths created by various writers and cinema, the only realistic case for pardon is based upon, quite clear, inadequacies in the conduct of their trials.
    http://www.smh.com.au/world/breaker-...111-17o42.html

    However, Morant and Co were irregulars who murdered Boers and who deserved the death penalty then imposed upon murderers. http://adbonline.anu.edu.au/biogs/A100564b.htm
    ..
    A rational army would run away.
    Montesquieu

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Should 'Breaker' Morant be pardonned

    Hi Skorzeny, I guess that in Italy the Boer war is relativly unknown, even in the UK it is something of a forgotten war. I guess it's a bit like the Italian colonial campaigns in that respect.

    Interesting to get a response from an Aussie, Rising Sun*!
    May I ask, although you agree with the sentence per se, do you feel that they were singled out because they were Australian (even though Morant was english by birth)? How about the fact that the well connected English officer Cpt Taylor was not executed, but went on to a promising career? I take it you reject the conspiracy theories surrounding this case?

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Should 'Breaker' Morant be pardonned

    Quote Originally Posted by heimwehr danzig View Post
    Interesting to get a response from an Aussie, Rising Sun*!
    May I ask, although you agree with the sentence per se, do you feel that they were singled out because they were Australian
    No, they were dealt with because they murdered people.

    Quote Originally Posted by heimwehr danzig View Post
    (even though Morant was english by birth)?
    Most Australians will concede that being English by birth should be a criminal offence down here, although generally not a capital offence.

    Quote Originally Posted by heimwehr danzig View Post
    How about the fact that the well connected English officer Cpt Taylor was not executed, but went on to a promising career?
    Taylor's subsequent career has no bearing on the guilt of Morant & Co.
    ..
    A rational army would run away.
    Montesquieu

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Should 'Breaker' Morant be pardonned

    This is a somewhat biased article, but it is probably nearer the truth than the cinematic and popular myths surrounding Morant & Co. http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/soc...1019-h4wo.html
    ..
    A rational army would run away.
    Montesquieu

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Should 'Breaker' Morant be pardonned

    Hi Rising Sun*,
    Thanks for the article; interesting yes, biased certainly!
    It intrigues me because having watched the excellent movie with Edward Woodward as the Breaker, I was pretty sympathetic and I was under the impression that Down Under Morant is seen as a folk hero and victim of British injustice.
    I was amused by the comment under the article you attached where somebody had said all the good bits make him an Aussie, all the bad bits make him a Pom!

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Should 'Breaker' Morant be pardonned

    Quote Originally Posted by heimwehr danzig View Post
    Hi Skorzeny, I guess that in Italy the Boer war is relativly unknown, even in the UK it is something of a forgotten war. I guess it's a bit like the Italian colonial campaigns in that respect.
    Hi heimwehr danzig,
    i can't say anything about my compatriots, but the Boer wars are quite unknown to me... It's just a fault on my part. I promise i'll put this defect right... Talking about the Italian colonial wars, here's another dark page of our history... It just was a tragicomic attempt to emulate the ancient glories and the splendours of the European Colonial Powers...
    Best regards.
    Kill one man, terrify a thousand

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Should 'Breaker' Morant be pardonned

    Quote Originally Posted by skorzeny57 View Post
    Hi heimwehr danzig,
    i can't say anything about my compatriots, but the Boer wars are quite unknown to me... It's just a fault on my part. I promise i'll put this defect right... Talking about the Italian colonial wars, here's another dark page of our history... It just was a tragicomic attempt to emulate the ancient glories and the splendours of the European Colonial Powers...
    Best regards.
    The Boer Wars are actually very interesting, it's where the term 'commando' came into widespread use. It was the last time a British unit carried colours in battle - the battle of Laing's Nek 1898. And as a direct consequence of the Boer War the territorial force was created.
    "There is no country on the face of the earth to which the principle of citizen-soldiership is so well adapted as our own, for the freedom possessed by Britons is of so general and real a character as to cause the humblest in the land to feel deeply the neccessity of preserving the safety and independence of the nation of which he is a part"

    The Volunteer's book of facts 1863

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Should 'Breaker' Morant be pardonned

    I realise I'm going off my own topic, but why did the Boer wars bring the T.A. into existance?
    Also, since I'm already off topic, in Thomas Packenham's Boer War book her relates a joke told by a veteran regarding the Boer commander Christian De Wet
    Q. Why do Boojers go to bed with their boots on?
    A. To keep De Wet from defeat
    Even after 100+ years, that is still really funny!

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Should 'Breaker' Morant be pardonned

    "There is no country on the face of the earth to which the principle of citizen-soldiership is so well adapted as our own, for the freedom possessed by Britons is of so general and real a character as to cause the humblest in the land to feel deeply the neccessity of preserving the safety and independence of the nation of which he is a part"

    The Volunteer's book of facts 1863

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Should 'Breaker' Morant be pardonned

    Very interesting, Thanks

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Should 'Breaker' Morant be pardonned

    Quote Originally Posted by heimwehr danzig View Post
    It intrigues me because having watched the excellent movie with Edward Woodward as the Breaker, I was pretty sympathetic and I was under the impression that Down Under Morant is seen as a folk hero and victim of British injustice.
    That's the popular view, largely informed by the film and some books in similar vein.

    It's similar to Ned Kelly being a folk hero in the popular mind rather than a robber who murdered three policemen.

    It depends upon whether one wants to look at the myth or the reality.
    ..
    A rational army would run away.
    Montesquieu

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Should 'Breaker' Morant be pardonned

    I was most interested in this forum regarding Morant. I have spent 2 years researching the case and last year petitioned the British Crown to pardon Morant, Handcock and Witton. In October, the government refused the petition I lodged. My case for pardons has involved detailed analysis of the case, the arrest, trial and sentencing of these men. This is not the forum in which to detail the defects in the manner in which these men were tried, except to state that the grounds are compelling and were stated as such by the Australian Parliament's Petitions committee at a public hearing in March 2010. Without detailed analysis, most writers on this subject draw assumptions and 'dress' them up as historical fact, often relying on issues that were portrayed in the film made in 1980.

    My web site, breakermorant.com contains extensive material about the case for pardons, including evidence that I uncovered in 2010 proving that orders to shoot prisoners were issued by two named British officers who were not held accountable for these orders. Detractors have always said that such orders did not exist, I have proven otherwise and the evidence corroborates what these men and their defence counsel said.

    The shame and illegality of such orders fell onto Morant, Handcock and Witton who had sworn to obey all orders. I had hoped for a fair and transparent process of review of the case for pardons, instead I was confronted with much of what happened in 1902, a secret process removed from public scrutiny. I am pleased to say that the case is now being prepared for judicial appeal, something that was denied to these men in 1902, their right to appeal to the King denied by Lord Kitchener, as was their attempt to contact their relatives and the Australian government for assistance. If guilty of anything, (and I don't concede they were), death sentences were not justified. This case will continue to attract controversy until the all the evidence (for and against conviction) is tested before a court, divorced from the bias of government and political agendas that are as strong today as they were in 1902 when Kitchener was trying to appease the German government over the death of Reverend Heese. This case always demanded review by a process divorced from government. At long last this will occur whether the outcome will overturn the convictions and sentences will have to be seen. What this will achieve is accountability and admission (that the British government fears) that such orders did exist, were illegal and attributed to Morant, Handcock and Witton instead of the real culprits, British officers who drew their direction in fighting the Boer from Lord Kitchener. History is littered with injustices and perseverance is the key to achieving justice. This is one of those cases of injustice.

    I look forward to your views

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Should 'Breaker' Morant be pardonned

    Out of interest, had they been guilty, hypothetically, and bearing in mind the laws of the time would you object to their execution? Naturally in our more 'enlightened' times few of us approve of the death penalty. I'm just interested if your opinion would differ if you were a disinsterested party. I just want to re-affirm that I am in no way apportioning blame or innocence.
    "There is no country on the face of the earth to which the principle of citizen-soldiership is so well adapted as our own, for the freedom possessed by Britons is of so general and real a character as to cause the humblest in the land to feel deeply the neccessity of preserving the safety and independence of the nation of which he is a part"

    The Volunteer's book of facts 1863

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