Monday, March 17, 2014

A very British double-standard

Back in the 1960's and 70's, the British government ethnically cleansed the island of Diego Garcia to make way for a US military base. Its inhabitants, the Chagossians, were forcibly deported from their homes and dumped in a slum in Mauritius. When they won a court case enabling their return in the 2000s, the british responded by declaring the entire archipelago a marine reserve, ostensibly to protect the environment, but in reality to keep them out (something the British courts are incapable of admitting even when presented with clear evidence). So, the Chagossians can't return because they might pollute the environment.

And meanwhile, the US Navy gets to pour sewage into their lagoon:

The American military has poured hundreds of tonnes of human sewage and waste water into a protected coral lagoon on the British-owned base of Diego Garcia over three decades in breach of environmental rules, The Independent can reveal.


Despite these undertakings, it has emerged that US Navy vessels have been discharging waste water, including treated sewage, into the clear lagoon ever since a naval support station was established on Diego Garcia in the early 1980s.

According to scientific advisers, elevated levels of nutrients caused by the waste – which have resulted in nitrogen and phosphate readings up to four times higher than normal – may be damaging the coral.

So its one rule for the Chagossians - British "subjects" whose rights the government exists to protect - and one for their foreign "partners". Its a clear double standard. But isn't it so very, very British?