Friday, April 2, 2010

Chagossian Injustice

i found a story on BBC about the UK setting up a marine reserve around/on the Chagos islands. a while back i saw a book being discussed on Book TV about the Chagos Islanders, known as Chagossians entitled Island of Shame:The Secret History of the U.S. Military Base on Diego Garcia.

and its pretty crazy, i've never heard anything about that until i saw it on Book TV. apparently, in the '70's, the US got the UK to move around 2,000 people off the biggest Chagos island, Diego Garcia to the island south of Diego Garcia, Mauritius. they were making way for the military base that now stands there. the British cut off their resources, forcing those who had the money to move first, then literally forced them onto boats and left them with nothing on Maritius. some even gave anecdotes in the book about how the british military burned their homes with their pets inside and beat many people into submission (i didn't read the entire book, but i do recall it saying that 2 or 3 military personnel resisted and spoke out in favor of the Chagossians).
the base in beneficial to the US and UK because it gives military supplies a safe and close haven to the countries we have forced ourselves into and continue to reek havoc Iraq and Afghanistan. it also is in prime position if our government ever feels the need to bomb or engage in a war with Iran of China (its located north of Madagascar, east of the African continent).
during the moving of the Chagossians off the island, many people protested against the impact the base would have on the wildlife, but no one with the exception of the Chagossians themselves (and the few military personnel), protested in favor for the people.
the Chagossians have been fighting the UK government ever since this forced migration to a)allow those that have the funding to return to live on the island, and b)to fund those that do not have the financial means to make the trip. they have gotten only one victory, which was then overturned by higher courts. many of the Chagossians living in Maritius have either died or live in impoverished conditions (on the island, they had no currency since there were so few of them and they raised and caught whatever they ate. adjusting into societies that use currency, among other things, has been the most difficult thing for them).

and now, conservationists are trying to set up a marine reserve. have they no regard for HUMAN life? i support wildlife conservation and environmentally conscious efforts, however they would never come before human injustices (i'm sure Peter Singer could surmise a good argument against that, but it is what it is. and thats how i feel). Chagossians are mainly descendants of Malagasy from Madagascar, brought over to the islands by the French. this forced migration and sustained exile is nothing more than a disregard for the lives of blacks who are seen as disposable objects. and the British government continues to deny them justice. there are a number of groups that support the Chagossians, in either a better settlement in the UK or Maritius, or in their fight to return.

comment. think. learn.

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