Friday, October 8, 2010

The Lemmeys Lay an Egg in the Chagos

Chagos Islanders helping the Seabees, Diego Garcia, 1971

Okay, imagine this, you have a home, a large home on 14 square miles, shared between you and 1100 other people. You are told, mysteriously, by the British government that you will be evicted to build a military base. If you have an extremely long ancestry on the island, you're entitled to some compensation, and only a little bit, several years too late to help you out in any significant manner, but if it's only you or your mother or your grandfather, you're entitled to none. Worse, brutal measure including depravation of supplies, threats of bombing, and the destruction of domesticated animals are used to achieve these ends.

But here's the strange part: the military base isn't even in your chain of islands, but on a larger island 30 miles away.

And thus you have the Chagossians. They've been forced out of a home that wasn't even needed for anything, and at one point, the British did not believe they were entitled to any compensation. They described them as "Tarzans" and "Man Fridays," and dumped them on the nearby island of Mauritus without so much as food and water to fend for themselves in the Port Louis slums. At most, an eviction of Diego Garcia might have been in order, probably to the other islands, and certainly not by these means.

This leads me to wonder, just what are they doing with those islands? There are allegations of black sites by the US Intelligence community on those islands. There are also large areas of solid farmland and excellent mineral resources and fishing completely off limits to any economic development. And then there are the poor souls forced to live in urban slums because some idiot in London, or DC (the story varies), decided this was honestly a good idea.

Mauritus is now seeking control of the islands. While the US millitary has a legitimate claim to the neccessity of Diego Garcia, I see no reason at all that they should so much as whine at some reasonable level of economic development on a bunch of islands that aren't even reasonably near them. If they had been willing to make the people there American or British citizens on the Chagos Islands, and only rearrange the lives of those directly affected by the military base, maybe my feelings would be different, but after 39 years of reckless unethical behavior towards an entire society, methinks that neither London nor DC nor Port Louis, Mauritus, who sold their people out for 3 million pounds, can be trusted at all with the greatest Lemon of Lemmeyland. This is totally irresponsible, and no official associated with these acts should be allowed to keep their job, and no bureau associated with the duties regarding the British Indian Ocean Territory should avoid thorough scourging and discipline.

Those people have a home they have been deprived of. Now, the UK wants to declare a giant nature preserve to keep them out of their home forever. This is not the first time that eco-nazism has hurt the people of the Chagos - another proposed site for the current base at Diego Garcia was an uninhabited atoll rejected because it was the site of a rare breed of turtle. Please, please, please let them come back, and there is no reason at this point why someone else should not control those islands, especially when the British have abused them so thoroughly:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness." -The Declaration of Independence
Government comes from the people, and thus the British Government has lost it's right to the British Indian Ocean Territory, pure and simple. Who will it go to instead? I don't know. Not Mauritus, not the UK, and not America, that much has to be certain.


Simone Prado said...

Tenho , mesmo havendo uma grande distância entre a linguagem, lido o seus textos, acompanhado seu blog. Achei excelente você trazer a tona, de forma mordaz, um texto que remexe com os lixos abafados, colocados muitas das vezes em baixo do tapete pelas mídias ou por “verdades” inócuas . Um episódio desonroso também!! É lamentável e triste ter lido o que fizeram de fato com a população e a tortura psicológica pelo quais passaram: os animais mortos em Diego Garcia para afligirem a população a sair, sendo essas UMA das formas mais baixa de intimidação que já vi e li. Mas, mais lamentável ainda foi o resultado desse exilamento, dessa deportação para as Ilhas de Seychelles, em que a dor do exílio , por serem instalados, inicialmente, em celas, numa prisão, provocou uma série de suicídios. Além de muitas mortes de crianças devido às péssimas condições e miserabilidade... É, de fato, uma história revoltante... E a Declaração de “Independência” chega a ser um tanto irônica. A luta pelo retorno a ilha ainda continua, mas... no fundo... a gente bem sabe qual será o resultado disso tudo... Infelizmente.
Um abraço,
Simone Prado

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Anonymous said...

This is news to me I'm ashamed to say. JJ, could you email me with some information on it please?

When did all this first happen?

- IrateDog

Jeremy Janson said...

Yes Tom. I'm actually going to leave this as a comment for the rest of my readers.

Here's a good article from the Guardian:

A good article from the Sunday Times:

And here's one from the BBC:

And the Daily Telegraph:

In general though I think the Guardian has the best coverage of this particular affair.

Anonymous said...

And so the embarrassment of being British.
But from the Guardian article seems to say the US's need for their base on Diego Garcia was the deciding factor in the UK government's decision to deny right to return for these islanders.

Jeremy Janson said...

@Tom: Hence the fact that I state in my post that the US is not an acceptable option for their new government. Still, Britain, being their current guardian, has a special responsibility to those particular people that the US does not have.

Lana Gramlich said...

This kind of crap happens all too often, unfortunately, but on the other hand, the name of game throughout our history seems to have been "conquer!" Rest assured, however, when a people are being ousted from their native lands, it's because someone somewhere's going to make a fortune from it. :(

Jeremy Janson said...

@LGramlich: Unfortunately you're right, though in this case the British have a unique opportunity to make at least partial restitution for their crime.

Andrew G. Carson said...

Unfortunately the British government has a long and chequered past of such heinous acts leaving the citizens of these fine isles with egg on our faces and hatred slung our way by the World over. Unfortunately again with the Tories in power this Government will undoubtedly continue it's unsurprising acts of humanitarian crimes like this leading not only myself but other Scots to hope for an Independent Scotland even if it is only a pipe dream.

Jeremy Janson said...

Maybe we'll give Scotland the Chagos under the condition they take care of it well. I really see no reason why every island besides possibly Diego Garcia can not be reinhabited, and even Diego Garcia the Eastern portion of the island could possibly be resettled with some kind of Berlin Wall type military barricade present, or possibly an artificial canal, which would be good for naval maneuvering anyways. We could also give Scotland Nova Scotia maybe, if the Canadians cooperate. I know as a descendent of Canadian Maritime Scots I myself would have no trouble with the Maritimes going to Scotland, and at least some areas of that region have their identity as more Scottish then Canadian anyways. In World War I, the Royal Canadian regiment from the Maritimes even piped themselves ashore as a highlands regiment.

Hadyn Thomas said...

I read about this a couple of years ago and it sickened me. As Andrew G Carson wrote, the British government has done this before and it always makes us who live in England, Wales or Scotland look bad.

I have wanted an independent England and Wales for years, anything to rid us of the British government, British imperialism and British vulgarity.

The Chagos islanders have a huge fight on their hands and sadly I think they will lose. If the US and British are in this together what chance do the islanders really have?

Jeremy Janson said...

@HT: Well Hayden, the great thing about both the US and Britain is they are currently democracies. If the people stand against this abuse, and demand a more reasonable policy regarding the Chagos and Diego Garcia that allows them to live together and perhaps even allows the Islanders to collect some needed and well-earned cash off of good military work, then the governments WILL change direction frankly whether they want to or not. Government may be the head, but the people are the neck, and they can move the head however they like.