Friday, May 12, 2006

A victory for the Chagosians

Between 1965 and 1971, the British government committed a vile act of ethnic cleansing. Their ally, the USA, wanted to build a military base on the island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean. Unfortunately, the island and its surrounding archipelago were inhabited - something the US saw as a security risk. So, the British government forcibly depopulated the entire archipelago, imprisoning its people before dumping them penniless on a pier in Mauritius (a story told in the excellent John Pilger documentary, Stealing a Nation).

In 2000, the Chagosians won a battle in the British High Court to declare their expulsion illegal and allow their return. The British government responded with a pair of Orders In Council overturning the judgement and retroactively legalising the ban. In December, the Chagosians challenged the Orders in court and have now won again, with a pair of High Court judges declaring their expulsion "irrational", "unlawful", and "repugnant". It's great news - but tempered by the worry that the government will simply issue further Orders In Council to get its way. There's also the problem of a US veto over who gets to live in the archipelago, signed away by the UK as part of the lease agreement. But this is still a tremendous step forward for the Chagosians, and acknowledges their moral right to continue to live in the territory where they were born.


And haven’t the Americans done well!

A significant proportion of fraudulent porn sites that make their money by infecting computers with Trojan diallers host themselves in Diago Garcia and split the extremely expensive call chargers with the dodgy telephone company there.

Yes I can see who was the security risk now...

Posted by red : 5/12/2006 11:35:00 AM

I read the article in the Herald today, it was a great read. It's so good to see, sometimes, someone winning the rights fights. It doesn't happen very often, but it makes all of the battles worthwhile.

Posted by Xavier : 5/13/2006 05:37:00 PM