Diego Garcia: the Chagos Islands 40 years on remain a black mark on Britain


By 1973, the entire indigenous population of the Chagos Islands was forcibly deported to Mauritius, to make way for a US military base. This month marks the fortieth anniversary of an outrage committed under wraps by the British, still fighting to prevent the return of the Chagossians. 
Thirty years ago today, Argentina invaded the Falklands (Malvinas) Islands, sparking a 74-day war with Britain. While less in the headlines, this month also marks the 40th anniversary of the establishment of the US military base on Diego Garcia, the largest island of the British Indian Ocean Territories comprising the Chagos Archipelago. At the time of each event, the islands had settled populations of British subjects numbering around 2,000 each. It is salutary to mark the anniversary of the first by setting out the background of the second.
Diego Garcia is the largest island of the Chagos Archipelago situated about 5,000 nautical miles from London in the Indian Ocean. Until 1966 the archepelago was part of the self-governing British colony of Mauritius, when it was purchased for the princely sum of £3 million as part of the Mauritian independence settlement. The terms of the purchase allow for return to Mauritian sovereignty 'when the islands are no longer needed for defence purposes' Historically, there are many documented sightings by Western navigators (notably Spanish and Portuguese) dating back to the 1500's, together with various transient settlements as early as the late 18th century. Diego Garcia became a British colony following the Napoleonic wars, as part of the treaty of Paris in 1814. By the 1960's the population could claim continuous settlement dating back to at least the mid-nineteenth century (the same kind of time span as the Falkland Islanders), most notably - and convincingly - from inscriptions on their ancestral tombstones.
The eviction of the Chagossians: At the height of the Cold War the search was on for a US military base location capable of facilitating control of the main Indian Ocean shipping lanes and the approaches to the Persian and Arabian Gulfs. In 1961, by arrangement with the UK Foreign Office, this search brought Rear Admiral Grantham of the US Navy to Diego Garcia to survey its suitability. The visit was the precursor to a series of secret, jointly planned events and agreements that would, by 1973, see the entire indigenous population of the Islands dispossessed and forcibly deported to Mauritius over 1,000 miles away. John Pilger described the attitude of British officialdom throughout the period as one of "imperious brutality and contempt" for the Chagossians, a description amply evidenced in his award winning 2004 documentary "Stealing a Nation" and in official documents subsequently released by the UK and US governments.
Terms for a US lease on the prospective military base area were negotiated and agreed at $1 per year. They required the islands to be 'swept and sanitised' so as to be handed over uninhabited. In return, the UK was to receive continued support for its so-called 'independent nuclear deterrent' and a £14 million discount on the supply of its submarine launched Polaris ICBM system. As part of its 1968 UN mandated independence demands and in ignorance of the US/UK negotiations, Mauritius agreed to sell the archipelago to the UK. It became the new 'British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT).
The deal was thus completed and the torment of the Chagossians began.
From then onward, the Islanders were subject to what amounted to officially sanctioned psychological warfare... Read more: 
http://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/peter-presland/chagos-islands-40-years-on-remain-black-mark-on-britain


Also seehttps://wikispooks.com/wiki/Falklands_and_Chagos_-_A_Tale_of_Two_Islands#cite_note-19 


and Paradise cleansed
http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2004/oct/02/foreignpolicy.comment
There are times when one tragedy, one crime tells us how a whole system works behind its democratic facade and helps us to understand how much of the world is run for the benefit of the powerful and how governments lie: John Pilger

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