John Pilger - Marie Lisette Talate - Cassam Uteem - Foreign Office officials and reports - Paul Gore-Boothe - Denis Healey - David Stoddard - Noam Chomsky -
This is Diego Garcia, the main Island of the Chagos Group in the Indian Ocean. It was once a phenomenon of natural beauty and peace. A paradise. Today, it is one of America’s biggest military bases in the world. There are more than 2,000 troops, two bomber runways, thirty warships and a satellite spy station. From here the United States has attacked Afghanistan and Iraq. The Pentagon calls it an indispensable platform for policing the world. Diego Garcia is a British colony. It lies midway between Africa and Asia. One of a group of coral islands ... 2,000 lived in the Chagos Islands ... A benign undisturbed way of life. John Pilger, Stealing a Nation, ITV 2004
A conspiracy was underway between the governments of Britain and the United States. The year is 1961. In this film never seen before the man on the right is Rear Admiral Grantham of the US Navy. His visit to Diego Garcia marked the beginning of a top-secret Anglo-American survey of the Island for a military base so vast it would cost over a billion dollars ... Hidden from the Parliament and the US Congress the deal was this: the Americans wanted the island in their words swept and sanitised. An entire population was declared expendable; all of them were to be deported. ibid.
By the end of 1975 the secret expulsion of the people of the Chagos Islands was complete. A survey of their conditions in exile told of twenty-six families who had died together in poverty, of nine suicides, of young girls forced into prostitution in order to survive. ibid.
What was done to these people is today defined in International Law as a crime against humanity. ibid.
In the 1990s the Islanders’ struggle took a dramatic turn with the discovery of these documents in the Public Record Office in London. Here was the evidence that they and their supporters were looking for. These long-forgotten secret official files reveal the full scale of the conspiracy and the cynicism that drove it. ibid.
The reason the government won’t allow the Islanders to go home is not money. It’s power. American power and its self-given role to dominate. ibid.
What was done to the people of the Chagos raises wider questions for those of us who live in powerful states like Britain and America. Why do we continue to allow our governments to treat people in small countries as either useful or expendable? Why do we except specious reasons for the unacceptable? Four years ago the High Court delivered one of the most damning indictments of a British government. It said the secret expulsion of the Chagos Islanders was wrong; that judgment must be upheld. And the people of a group of beautiful once-peaceful islands must be helped to go home and compensated fully and without delay for their suffering. Anything less diminishes the rest of us. ibid.
This year on May 11th two judges described the actions of the British government as outrageous, repugnant and illegal. So it’s unequivocal, it’s wrong, and under the statutes of the International Criminal Court it’s a major crime. You can’t do that. So what the Blair government has done to try to undercut the High Court is to invoke the Royal Prerogative. John Pilger, interview Guardian Hay Festival 2006
They finally made their way to the High Court in London after many years. The judges of the High Court were ... horrified by the story. They invoked the Magna Carta which is the basis for all our laws and says you cannot throw people out of their homeland. They described the decisions by governments as outrageous and said they could go back. The British government of Tony Blair decided this wasn’t what they wanted so they invoked a Royal Decree power ... The High Court threw out the government’s decree ... The struggle goes on. John Pilger, lecture Freedom Next Time
I don’t often use the word incredible but ... when a group of us found classified files in the public record office in London, it revealed how the American and British governments had conspired to expel the entire population of this British colony – all of them British citizens, and dumped them in the slums of Mauritius ... They started killing their pets, they shots their dogs ... The message was clear, you’re next unless you go! John Pilger, Democracy Now! interview
We were obliged to leave, but we knew what was going on there. What they did to our dogs they were going to do to us. They are without pity. On the ship no matter how many children you had you were given only one mattress. Marie Lisette Talate
Some of them stayed on the docks waiting for the next ship to take them home. There was never to be a ship to take them home. Cassam Uteem, former President of Diego Garcia
Diego Garcia: There were so many cases of suicide. There were so many cases of children not receiving proper care and dying in hospital. Cassam Uteem
I must remind you that this has been done in violation of the United Nations Charter. Cassam Uteem
We’re going to get these rocks and they’re going to be ours regardless of whether there are a few Tarzans on them. Foreign Office official
The intention is, however, that none of them should be regarded as being permanent inhabitants of the islands. Foreign Office memorandum July 1965
We are able to make the rules up as we go along and treat the inhabitants of BIOT as not ‘belonging’ to it in any sense. Foreign Office report, Maintaining the Fiction
We must be surely very tough about this. The object of the exercise was to get some rocks which will remain ours. There will be no indigenous population except seagulls. Sir Paul Gore-Boothe, Foreign Office, August 1966
I fear I have no memories of the Chagos Archipelago. Sorry. Denis Healey, former Labour minister & Bilderberger
Jesus Christ. How low can you get? How intellectually dishonest! How morally duplicitous can you get! I’ve spent my life forty years now with this, and every single thing sickens me. Sickens me. And it goes on. It goes on. It goes on. Conservative, Labour. David Stoddard, Berkeley University, California
Diego Garcia: It’s the major base for the bombing of the Middle East and central Asia and so on … The United States and Britain loyally trailing behind refused to allow the nuclear-free treaty to apply to Diego Garcia. Noam Chomsky, lecture Brown University April 2010