Justin Welby expressed regret "in the name of Christ" over the 1919 massacre at Amritsar

Published 11 September 2019  |  
(Photo: BBC)
The Archbishop of Canterbury lying face down at a memorial remembering victims of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre

Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend Justin Welby expressed his regret "in the name of Christ" over the 1919 massacre when British forces shot dead hundreds of unarmed civilians in Jallianwala Bagh, Amritsar.

Prostrating at the memorial, the archbishop said, "The souls of those who were killed or wounded, of the bereaved, cry out to us from these stones and warn us about power and the misuse of power.

"I cannot speak for the British government. I am not an official of the government but can speak in the name of Christ and say this is a place of both sin and redemption, because you have remembered what they have done and their names will live, their memory will live before God. And I am so ashamed and sorry for the impact of this crime committed here. As a religious leader, I mourn the tragedy," Welby said.

"Here I come only seeking in sorrow and repentance before the people who have suffered in the hands of British bullets. Again I cannot speak for the government but I speak with repentance," he added.

In April 1919, Hindus, Christians, Muslims and Sikhs were having a peaceful protest over the arrest of pro-independence leaders Satya Pal and Saifuddin Kitchlew. Brig Gen Reginald Dyer, an Anglican, issued an order to open fire on the protesters that killed 379 and wounded about 1,200.

During his pastoral visit to India, Welby mentioned in one of his Facebook posts that visiting the Jallianwala Bagh memorial "aroused a sense of profound shame at what happened in this place. It is one of a number of deep stains on British history.

"Learning of what happened, I recognise the sins of my British colonial history, the ideology that too often subjugated and dehumanised other races and cultures... We have a great responsibility to not just lament this horrific massacre but most importantly to learn from it in a way that changes our actions."

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