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Diego Garcia: Stealing a nation and how ‘international rules’ don’t apply if it is the US or UK

Diego Garcia: Stealing a nation and how ‘international rules’ don’t apply if it is the US or UK​

By John Pilger
Aug 11, 2022
DIEGO GARCIA, British Indian Ocean Territory

Image: Flickr / COMSEVENTHFLT
One of John Pilger’s most remarkable documentaries, bringing a little-known story to a wide audience, is Stealing a Nation, about how British governments ruthlessly expelled the population of the Chagos Islands, a crown colony in the Indian Ocean, in the late 1960s and early 70s to make way for an American military base on Diego Garcia, the largest island.
The truth about the brutal removal of 1,500 islanders and the official conspiracy to deny the presence of an indigenous population did not emerge for another 20 years. Secret official files were unearthed at the Public Record Office, in London, by lawyers acting for the former inhabitants of the coral archipelago, who wished to return to their homeland. Historian Mark Curtis described the enforced depopulation in Web of Deceit, his 2003 book about Britain’s post-war foreign policy. The British media all but ignored it, while the Washington Post called it a ‘mass kidnapping’.
Pilger first heard of the plight of the Chagossians in 1982, during the Falklands War. ‘Britain sent a fleet to the aid of 2,000 Falkland Islanders at the other end of the world,’ he said, ‘while another 2,000 British citizens from islands in the Indian Ocean had been expelled by British governments and hardly anyone knew. The difference was that one lot were white and the others were black, and the United States wanted the Chagos Islands – especially Diego Garcia – as a major military base.’
At the beginning of Stealing a Nation, Pilger says, ‘There are times when one tragedy, one crime, tells us how a whole system works behind its democratic façade and helps us understand how much of the world is run for the benefit of the powerful and how governments often justify their actions with lies.’
He recalls how the Chagos paradise – with an abundance of natural produce and no extreme weather – once had thriving villages, a school, a hospital, a church, a railway and an undisturbed way of life until a secret 1961 Anglo-American survey of Diego Garcia led both governments to plot to remove the inhabitants.
The expulsions began in 1965. People were herded into the hold of a rusting ship, endured rough seas and were dumped in the Seychelles, where they were held in prison cells. They were then shipped on to Mauritius, where they were taken to a derelict housing estate with no water or electricity. Twenty-six families died in brutal poverty, there were nine suicides and girls were forced into prostitution to survive.
The depopulation of the archipelago was completed within 10 years and Diego Garcia became home to one of the United States’s biggest bases, with more than 2,000 troops, two bomber runways, 30 warships, facilities for nuclear-armed submarines and a satellite spy station.
In a series of moving interviews, Pilger hears from islanders forced from their homes. One woman recalls how she and her husband took their baby to Mauritius for medical treatment and were told they could not return. The shock was so great that her husband suffered a stroke and died. Others describe how the British and Americans gassed their dogs – beloved pets – as an inducement to pack up and leave. In exile in Mauritius, Lizette Talate’s children ‘died of sadness’.
After demonstrating on the streets of Mauritius in 1982, the exiles were given the derisory compensation of less than £3,000 each by the British government. With the discovery of declassified Foreign Office files, the full cynicism was laid bare. One file was headed, ‘Maintaining the Fiction’.
In 2000, the High Court in London ruled the expulsions illegal. In response, the Labour government of Tony Blair invoked the Royal Prerogative, an archaic power invested in the Queen’s ‘Privy Council’ that allows the government to bypass Parliament and the courts. In this way, the islanders were banned from ever returning home.
Stealing a Nation won the Royal Television Society’s 2005 Best Single Documentary award. A year later, the High Court finally ruled that the Chagossians were entitled to return. However, in the summer of 2008, the Foreign Office appealed to the Supreme Court, formerly known as the Law Lords. The appeal was successful.
In 2010, the British government hurriedly established a marine nature reserve around the Chagos Islands. Soon afterwards, WikiLeaks published a US Embassy diplomatic cable from 2009 that read, ‘Establishing a marine reserve might indeed, as the FCO’s [Colin] Roberts stated, be the most effective long-term way to prevent any of the Chagos Islands’ former inhabitants or descendants from resettling.’ Emboldened by this disclosure and by public support, an indefatigable campaign of islanders and their supporters shows no sign of giving up.
Awards: Best Single Documentary, Royal Television Society Awards, 2005; The Chris Statuette in the Social Issues division, Chris Awards, Columbus International Film & Video Festival, Ohio, 2003.
‘Stealing A Nation’ was a Granada production for ITV. It was first broadcast on ITV1, 6 October 2004…yes 2004.

Diego Garcia: Stealing a nation and how 'international rules' don't apply if it is the US or UK - Pearls and Irritations (johnmenadue.com)
 

Hamartia Antidote

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You are hosting a US base on an illegally occupied island. I am sure if US actually respected any international rules, it would have left long back.
Everything else is just moronic logic.

Yes, somebody sure is using moronic logic in their replies.

I’m not going to argue about the moronic logic of China and Britain over these particular court rulings.

Take it up with them in their forums. Are you completely afraid of them or something? I know India and China were subjugated by the Brits but that was a long time ago and you shouldn’t still be afraid.

Why are you posting it here when Mauritius doesn’t even have an issue with the US or it’s bases.

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MH.Yang

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I’m not going to argue about the moronic logic of China and Britain over these particular court rulings.

Take it up with them in their forums. Are you completely afraid of them or something?
Why should China and Britain be linked?
China supports Marius' sovereignty over Diego Garcia, not Britain.
 

huanghong

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Probably the same way China can use that dotted line when the same court said those “islands” don’t count.

Anyways we never said they were our islands.

Mods please move this to the Europe/Russia forum
The Hague Tribunal and the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea are not the same institution. The Hague Tribunal that made the South China Sea award is not a UN agency. How did you come to the conclusion that it is the same agency?
 

VCheng

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Westerners are the worst pathetic scum to ever set foot on earth. Their cheerleaders try to cover it but now its evident. I hope Russia nukes them one day.

Why don't you ask the Chechnyan Muslims how Russia treated them first? Besides, aren't Russians themselves Westerners too?

Every evil can be posted in USA section.

Baji, kia aapka umreeki visa phir reject ho gaya? :D
 

jhungary

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The Hague Tribunal and the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea are not the same institution. The Hague Tribunal that made the South China Sea award is not a UN agency. How did you come to the conclusion that it is the same agency?
Actually, it's not Hague Tribunal that judge against the Chinese in the issue of South China Sea, it's Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA), PCA is a part of International Court of Justice (an UN Organisation), in fact, PCA is located at the same building ICJ is in.

So yes, it was an UN Agency that made the South China Sea review in favor of Philippine

 

huanghong

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Actually, it's not Hague Tribunal that judge against the Chinese in the issue of South China Sea, it's Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA), PCA is a part of International Court of Justice (an UN Organisation), in fact, PCA is located at the same building ICJ is in.

So yes, it was an UN Agency that made the South China Sea review in favor of Philippine

What I see on the wiki is
The Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) is a non-UN intergovernmental organization located in The Hague
Can you provide the source of the PCA being a UN agency? The news I read is that PCA is only a tenant in the same building
 

jhungary

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What I see on the wiki is
The Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) is a non-UN intergovernmental organization located in The Hague
Can you provide the source of the PCA being a UN agency? The news I read is that PCA is only a tenant in the same building
PCA is an UN Observer.


PCA is a court, not an organisation.....

 

vishwambhar

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USA presence in Diego Garcia is a blessing disguise for all peace loving countries in IOR region including India, Australia, Indonesia, Mauritius, west coast African peaceful countries..... without USA SOME NATIONS will try to take disadvantage at their own terms which is not possible now because of USA.....
 

huanghong

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PCA is an UN Observer.


PCA is a court, not an organisation.....

Is the PCA an observer or subsidiary of the UN? Can you give a clear statement? It is impossible for a subordinate agency of the United Nations to become an observer of the United Nations at the same time
 

jhungary

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Is the PCA an observer or subsidiary of the UN? Can you give a clear statement? It is impossible for a subordinate agency of the United Nations to become an observer of the United Nations at the same time
Dude, you don't need to be "Funded" by the UN to be an UN Agency. Do you even know what it means to be an UN Observer??


UN General Assembly Observer is a non-member international organisation recognized by UNGA, all the work laid within the framework of UNGA, except with the power to vote. Member state (as in UN Member) are bounded by the same right to observer than other member states.

So in effect, you are talking about PCA being observed by all UNGA Member, and itself resolve issue for all UNGA member, so for all intent and purpose, how is it not a UN agency? Because UN did not pay for the operation??
 

huanghong

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Dude, you don't need to be "Funded" by the UN to be an UN Agency. Do you even know what it means to be an UN Observer??


UN General Assembly Observer is a non-member international organisation recognized by UNGA, all the work laid within the framework of UNGA, except with the power to vote. Member state (as in UN Member) are bounded by the same right to observer than other member states.

So in effect, you are talking about PCA being observed by all UNGA Member, and itself resolve issue for all UNGA member, so for all intent and purpose, how is it not a UN agency? Because UN did not pay for the operation??

It's a strange idea. Why does an agency that belongs to the United Nations need the United Nations to give it special observer status?
What are you talking about? Remember the Asian Investment Bank, Interpol, some well-known universities have been granted observer status by the United Nations. You mean they are affiliated with the United Nations? Please don't force yourself to define which agencies belong to the United Nations, it's a laughing behavior
 

jhungary

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What are you talking about? Remember the Asian Investment Bank, Interpol, some well-known universities have been granted observer status by the United Nations. You mean they are affiliated with the United Nations? Please don't force yourself to define which agencies belong to the United Nations, it's a laughing behavior
How many "Well Known University" were in the UNGA Observer list? You mean University for Peace?? Maybe you need to check the logo of that University. It's not like they accepted HArvard into UN Observer status, although Harvard would have loved that........


The University for Peace (UPEACE) is an intergovernmental organization with university status, established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1980 and having its main campus in Costa Rica.

International Bank, institution that promote peace (not University like the University we study) are a form of International Organisation that promote international prosperity. They help shape international policy. And yes, they are affiliated with the UN, the same way a UN Member affiliated with the UN...

Dude, did you even bother to look at what is invited into UNGA observer?? Dude saying "many well-known universities is in UNGA observer list" or not checking what is being granted to UNGA observer list IS a laughable behaviour....
 
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huanghong

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How many "Well Known University" were in the UNGA Observer list? You mean University for Peace?? Maybe you need to check the logo of that University. It's not like they accepted HArvard into UN Observer status, although Harvard would have loved that........




International Bank, institution that promote peace (not University like the University we study) are a form of International Organisation that promote international prosperity. They help shape international policy. And yes, they are affiliated with the UN, the same way a UN Member affiliated with the UN...

Dude, did you even bother to look at what is invited into UNGA observer?? Dude saying "many well-known universities is in UNGA observer list" or not checking what is being granted to UNGA observer list IS a laughable behaviour....
What does this have to do with the fact that the observers are not part of the UN agency? Are the decisions made by the observers equal to the decisions of the United Nations? Like the Organization of the Islamic Conference, the League of Arab States?
 

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