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Hmmmm, thus far....
....no one has mentioned the island of Diego Garcia in the Indian ocean and where the culprits are the US and UK.... terrible, terrible affair....|
The Telegraph, 14 Feb. 2011
Ben Fogle: My fight for the forgotten islanders
Forty years after Britain ‘cleansed’ the Chagos Islands of its inhabitants to make way for a US military base in the Indian Ocean, Ben Fogle explains why he’s determined to right a terrible wrong
Crawley, an unassuming town in the West Sussex commuter belt, holds a dark secret. Hidden within its streets is a story of tragedy and deceit that has left thousands of refugees living in misery for 40 years, exiled from their homeland by a conniving and unrepentant government. It is a story – described by some as one of the darkest days in British overseas policy – that has transfixed me for more than a decade and shaken my very principles on conservation, ecology and the environment movement.
Lies, bribes and Wikileaks – this tale has it all. It starts in the mid-Sixties when the US, worried about possible Soviet expansion, was seeking a base in the Indian Ocean. The catch? They wanted somewhere without an indigenous “population problem” that could interfere with the base’s operation.
Britain, it hoped, could offer a solution. Mauritius and her dependencies had been part of the British Empire. In 1964, independence was finally granted on the understanding that the Chagos archipelago would be excluded from the deal as, it was claimed, it was of “significant” geographical interest to Britain.
In the same year, a secret British-American conference was held in London. In the chilling words of official jargon, the islands “were closed” and, in an exchange of letters never shown to either Parliament or the US Congress, a defence agreement was signed leasing the Chagos Islands to the US for 50 years with the option of an extra 20-year extension. The deal was struck on the understanding that the entire island chain was “fully sanitised” and “cleansed” of life. In exchange, Britain would receive an $11million subsidy on the US’s Polaris submarine nuclear deterrent.
But there was a problem: the UK had overlooked the existence of the native population of about 1,800 Chagosian people, mainly descendents of slaves, living on the islands. And, as members of an overseas territory, they were British nationals. Yet it was vital for the British government, in its own words, “to maintain the pretence there were no permanent inhabitants” on the islands. This was because permanent residents would need to be recognised as people with democratic rights. So the islanders effectively became non-people.