The Ottawa protestors are partying on the 80th anniversary of a real crime against humanity the sook ching massacre in Singapore.

Robin Rowland
8 min readFeb 17, 2022

(Warning: This post may be triggering to people or their families who were victims of real crimes against humanity. I didn’t want to raise the temperature of the Ottawa protest debate but the continuation of the blockades and remembering the anniversary date compelled me to write this).

The heads of Chinese men on poles after the sook ching massacre in Singapore. Sketch by Leo Rawlings.

The so-called freedom convoy protestors on the streets of Ottawa who are barbecuing pigs on spits and lounging in hot tubs, playing in a bouncy castle, claiming that getting a vaccine or wearing a mask in a pandemic is a crime against humanity have no idea that this the 80th anniversary of a real war crime.

On February 14, 1942, in the Second World War, Singapore surrendered to the Imperial Japanese Army. Thousands of British, Australian and Indian Army soldiers became prisoners of war, including my father, who was a British artillery officer. They marched into captivity as prisoners of war. That story is somewhat well known because of books and movies.

What is less known, unless you are a resident of Singapore, or, like me, from the family of a POW, that beginning a couple of days after the surrender, the Imperial Japanese Army began rounding up ethnic Chinese men and boys across the island city.

This roundup came to known as the Sook Ching (肃清) or “the cleansing.” The most reliable accounts show that over the next few days, 50,000 men and boys were massacred by the Kempeitai, the Japanese military secret police. Most of them lined up and shot with machine guns.

Evidence introduced at post war crimes trials showed that this real crime against humanity was planned well in advance of the invasion of what was then the British colony of Malaya.

Each year, including this year, Singapore marks the anniversary of the massacre.

After the IJA occupied the city, the ethnic Chinese men and boys were ordered to report for “registration.” Then they were put into trucks and taken to points around the city to be shot.
In 1962, the Singapore authorities found five…

Robin Rowland

Independent visual journalist in Kitimat, BC, Canada. Author of five books, more at