Sketch by Jack Chalker

Phase 2

War Crimes Document

The Internment of Civilians in Singapore By The Nipponese Authorities

February 1942 to August 1945

 

Page Two - September 1942 to October 1943

In September 1942 contrl of the Camp was taken over by the Military Administrative Department.

Mr I. Asahi was appointed Controller of Enemy Aliens and Mr Naito became Camp Supervisor. These two men were by far the most humane and able of the Nipponese officers who controlled the Camp during three and a half years of internment. They planned to relieve congestion by releasing locally domiciled internees, the old and infirm, and such Europeans as could be employed on work of public service. They tried to improve the rationing of the Camp and to provide further opportunities for recreation by incorporating in the Camp an Area outside prison walls. But from the outset they were thwarted by those in higher authority. No appreciable release of internees was effected, the population of the Camp was increased by large numbers of the local population sent in by the Military Police. There was no improvement in the basic rations of the Camp and although a vegetable Garden was established outside the Prison Walls, internees were only allowed to make restricted use of this for recreational purposes - Women for 1 hour on 3 evenings a week and men for 2 evenings.

Mr Asahi announced however that he had made an arrangement whereby the Beutral Agent, Singapore would be allowed to supply the Camp with food and necessaries on behalf of the International Red Cross Society, Geneva. He also said that the ban on meetings between husbands and wives would be lifted in the near future.

But the more liberal attitude towards the general organisation of the Camp under this regime was accompanied by harsher methods of administering discipline. It soon became apparent that this was outside the scope of Mr Asahi’s control. An officer of the Militarey Police, Lt. Tchuchitana, was posted to the Camp and he brought with him a guard composed of Sikhs with a few Nipponese soldiers and N.C.O’s. Orders were issued that internees must bow to all Sikhs on sentry duty, must bow to Sikh Guardroom whenever they passed it, and that the cleaning out of the Guardroom including the latrines must be undertaken by internees. Sikh guards with loaded rifles were place in charge of fatigue parties and internees were told their orders must be implicitly obeyed. This led to a great deal of dissatisfaction and several instances of face slapping occurred, and in one case an internee was kicked, punched and man-handled by Sikh Guards under instructions from a Nipponese Officer.

Under this regime the Camp had its first experience of the methods of punishment and investigation employed by the Military Police, four internees who had broken bounds at night were caught returning to Camp and were severely beaten with heavy poles and subsequently tied up in the guardroom, one for 72 hours, one for 54 hours, and two for 36 hours without food or water, during which time they received further beatings and manhandling by members of the Sikh Guard.

A man accused of passing notes to a Prisoner of War working party was beaten with knotted ropes, sticks, and subjected to torture by covering his face with a cloth which was kept soaked in water. He was finally removed with another internee to a penal establishment where they were kept on starvation diet without bedding, spare clothing or facilities for 17 days. A women internee was removed to Joo Chiat Police Station where she was kept for 8 days without bed or bedding. She had no privacy, no provision for washing and was kept on a diet of rice and water.

In April 1943 Asakhi and naito relinquished their command of the Camp to Lieutenant Suzuki (Supervisor) and Mr Tominaga (Officer in charge of discipline). The later took immediate steps to exercise stricter control over the internal organization of the Camp. A series of raids on the living quarters were carried out under the leadership of Mr Tominaga in the course of which large numbers of books, atlases, diaries abd other documents were seized and internees were ordered to hand in all A.R.P. helmets, whistles, electrical torches, rice sacks used as bedding, electrical appliances and privately owned tools.

The administration of corporal punishment became more frequent and usually included a form of torture known as the “Stick Treatment”. The victim of this punishment was made to kneel on the ground, a pole 2 inches in diameter and 6 feet long was placed behind the knees and he was then required to assume a sitting posture with the body held upright. If he made any movement to ease his cramped position he was struck with a stick or other implement by the Sikh guard or Nipponese officer administering the punishment.

A great deal more authority was now delegated to junior Nipponese officers, some of whom used their powers with reckless irresponsibility. One officer (KAOSOYI) in an evening’s tour of the Camp assaulted 22 men and 4 women. Most were stuck about the head or face, the weapons used being variously a faggot of firewood, a plank of timber, a stick and (in one instance) a wooden chair.  One internee was kicked in the eye after having been knocked down. A crippled women was struck whilst trying to rise from her chair. In each case it was that the internees had failed to bow but the officer had entered cells and living rooms without warning and blows were struck in most cases before internees were aware of his presence. O another occasion the same officer entered an Exercise Yard after Lights out and struck down an internee who had been sleeping on the veranda and was rising from his bed when the officer’s presence was announced. He was knocked unconscious and left lying on the ground with his head bleeding profusely.

Another officer (KOBAYASHi) when he discovered a breach of regulations regarding the use of electrical equipment in the Women’s Camp, ordered the Women’s Representative to go to the Sikh’s Guardroom and remain there until further notice. He then left the Camp for the weekend. After great difficulty permission was obtained by another Nipponese Officer for the prisoner to sleep in an open room opposite the Guard Room and the following morning she was released by Lieutenant Suziki. The same officer punished 5 members of the Camp Orchestra by confining them on the roof of the Prison Tower for 36 hours. During this time they were exposed to the full heat of the sun and had no covering at night.

Two of the men’s Representatives who were in office during this regime were locked up for periods of ten days on a diet of rice salt and water, - one for contesting a statement that British doctors were leaving Nipponese internees to die of disease in India without any attempt to cure them - the other because an internee on fatigue had used a ladder without first obtaining permission from the Nipponese.

Two members of the Men’s Executive Committee were submitted to the “Stick Treatment”, beaten with sticks and plaited rotan and were locked in a store room for 3 weeks on penal diet and in conditions of great privation. These men had offended KOBAYASHI who denounced them to TOMINAGA without the least justification as being engaged in subversive activities in the Camp.

These and other disciplinary incidents equally brutally and irresponsible, created an atmosphere of terrorism in the Camp. Internees felt they were dominated by inimical forces which might at any time break through all restraint with incalculable results.

In September 1943 the first full Roll Call of the camp under Nipponese Supervision took place. followed at intervals by similar parades culminating on 10th October 1943 (the “Double Tenth”) with a Roll Call parade which inaugurated a period of dark terrorism which will live in the memory of every member of the Camp at that time.

 

Phase 3 - Controlled by Nipponese Military Police (Gestapo)

 

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