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Black Lives Matters inspired Topple The Racists campaign calls for statue of Lord Kitchener in Chatham to be taken down

An army general's statue should be removed because he helped set up concentration camps in Africa, campaigners say.

Protesters are calling for the removal of Lord Herbert Kitchener's statue in Chatham for his actions in the Second Boer War.

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On Sunday a statue of slave trader Edward Colston was pulled down in Bristol and dumped in the city's harbour.

Since then many other monuments to historical figures have been targeted.

Two petitions have been set up by Jacqueline Berry and Robyn Murphy which have together reached over 150 signatures. The statue also appeared on Topple The Racists website which maps the location of monuments to people involved in slavery and racism.

Herbert Kitchener, 1st Earl Kitchener, was the face of the 'Your Country Needs You' recruitment poster of 1914. At the time he was the Secretary of State for War and the image inspired many to join the fight in World War I.

His reputation came from his previous military action in Egypt and Sudan. He was the Major General at The Battle of Omdurman, September 2, 1898.

Your Country Needs You Picture: Wikimedia Comms
Your Country Needs You Picture: Wikimedia Comms

It has been claimed that none of the 50,000 attackers got closer than 50m to the British trenches and Omdurman was taken by Kitchener and his men later that day.

However, calls to have his statue removed point to his actions in the Second Boer War in South Africa where he aided the creation of concentration camps.

These were originally intended as refugee camps for civilians displaced by the war, but as Kitchener introduced tactics meant to deprive the guerrillas of everything which sustained them - including their women and children - the camps grew and became neglected.

This led to the deaths of 27,927 Boers from starvation and diseases which haunts his legacy to this day.

Elizabeth Bernasko, who was at the Medway March For Justice today, said : "I'm not surprised [that the statue is up] as racism is the foundation of this country.

"There is blood on the British Empire's hands. Britain has tried to absolve themselves of responsibility - but they started this.

"So I'm not surprised that there are monuments of these racist people dotted around the country. It is so disgusting and heart wrenching to realise that they are proud of this colonial history and that the British identity is so intrinsic to slavery.

"Words can't really suffice but most of all I'm angry and I'd really like to make that anger known."

Cllr Siju Adeoye, from Medway Labour, said: "We know in Bristols case, there have been petitions for it be be removed for years and it hasn't been removed.

"As a black councillor here in Medway, I'm upset and angered that we have it. My constituents have written to me and my email is full of telling me about the works and the insidious values of Kitchener.

Cllr Siju Adeoye, from Medway Labour said: "We cannot be honouring this. We have had enough of systemic racism entrenched in our society."
Cllr Siju Adeoye, from Medway Labour said: "We cannot be honouring this. We have had enough of systemic racism entrenched in our society."

"Of the fortified concentration camps that he helped establish and the food supply shortage which he cut off for South Africa.

"We cannot be condoning this. We cannot be honouring this. We have had enough of systemic racism entrenched in our society. Enough is enough."

Labour MP for Canterbury Rosie Duffield said: "I think we have to listen to communities that feel so let down that there are still statues towards people that have committed absolute atrocities.

"I don't know enough about Kitchener personally, but it sounds as though it is really offending and upsetting a lot of people and they have got the right to say so. We need to review exactly who we put on a plinth."

Kitchener Barracks and the army have been contacted for comment.

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