Forced Eviction of the Chagos Islanders by British and US governments
The forced eviction of the Chagos Islanders by British and US government began in 1968 we were around 2000 people, living peacefully on our islands. We had villages, a school, a hospital, a church and an undisturbed way of life.
In the 1960s at the height of the cold war, the Harold Wilson Government wanted to do a deal with the US, which was looking for a military base in the Indian Ocean in order to monitor SOVIET Activity. The Chagos Archipelago was the perfect location for such.
In 1966, the US and UK signed a 50 years agreement to use the Chagos islands for military purpose, under the terms that each island should be without a resident civil population. Unknown to Parliament and to the US Congress and in breach of the UN charter, the British Government plotted with Washington to expel us, dismissing us as Men Fridays and Tarzans. The Americans ordered that our islands be swept and sanitized. This led to our forcible and inhumane eviction by our very own government from the late 1960s to the early 1970s.
We were threatened with being shot, bombed and to be starved if we did not leave our islands. Our dogs/pets were gassed in front of our own eyes. Meanwhile, food stores on the island were allowed to deplete in order to pressure us to leave.
We were dumped on the slums of Mauritius and the Seychelles to fend for ourselves, made homeless and received no help, from either the British Government, nor the Mauritian Government. Many families were separated. We were forced to find whatever accommodation we could, forced to live in the slums in poverty. We faced widespread discrimination and marginalisation and many of us succumbed to alcoholism and drug abuse. Our expulsion is considered as one of the most heinous crimes in British History.
Today, no Chagossians live on the island of Diego Garcia, as it is now the site of the military base Camp Justice. The main island is America’s largest military base, outside the US. There are more than 4000 troops, two bomber runways, thirty warships and a satellite spy station. The pentagon calls it an indispensable platform for policing the world.