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The Chagossians
Chagossians
(also Îlois or Chagos Islanders) are people of African, Indian and Malay ancestry who inhabited the Chagos Islands, specifically Diego Garcia, Peros Banhos, and the Salomon island chain, as well as other parts of the Chagos Archipelago, from the late 18th to the late 20th century. Most Chagossians
Chagossians
now live in Mauritius
Mauritius
and the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
after being forcibly evicted by the British government in the late 1960s and early 1970s so that Diego Garcia, the island where most Chagossians
Chagossians
lived, could serve as the location for a United States military
United States military
base. Today, no Chagossians
Chagossians
live on the island of Diego Garcia, as it is now the site of the military base Camp Justice. The Chagossian people's ancestry is mostly African, particularly from Madagascar, Mozambique
Mozambique
and other African nations including Mauritius. There is also a significant proportion of Indian and Malay ancestry.[1][full citation needed] The French brought some to the Chagos islands as slaves from Mauritius
Mauritius
in 1786. Others arrived as fishermen, farmers, and coconut plantation workers during the 19th century. The Chagossians
Chagossians
speak Chagossian Creole, a French-based creole language whose vocabulary also incorporates words originating from various African and Asian languages and is part of the Bourbonnais Creole family. Chagossian Creole is still spoken by some of their descendants in Mauritius
Mauritius
and the Seychelles. Chagossian people living in the UK speak English. Many settled in the town of Crawley
Crawley
in West Sussex, and the Chagossian community there numbered approximately 3,000 in 2016.[2] In 2016, the British government denied the right of the Chagossians
Chagossians
to return to the islands after a 45-year legal dispute.[3][4]

Contents

1 History

1.1 Early history 1.2 Eviction 1.3 Court battle 1.4 Marine nature reserve and government communications leak

1.4.1 Pollution

1.5 Discourse about the Chagossians 1.6 2012 petition

2 See also 3 References 4 External links

History[edit] Early history[edit] In 1793, when the first successful colony was founded on Diego Garcia, coconut plantations were established on many of the atolls and isolated islands of the archipelago. Initially the workers were slaves, but after 1840 they were freemen, many of whom were descended from those earlier slaves. They formed an inter-island culture called Ilois
Ilois
(a French Creole word meaning Islanders). Eviction[edit]

Wikisource
Wikisource
has original text related to this article: British Indian Ocean Territory
British Indian Ocean Territory
Constitution
Constitution
Order 2004

In 1965, as part of a deal to grant Mauritian independence, the Chagos Archipelago was split off from the Colony and came to form the British Indian Ocean
Indian Ocean
Territory. The territory's new constitution was set out in a statutory instrument imposed unilaterally without any referendum or consultation with the Chagossians
Chagossians
and it envisaged no democratic institutions. On April 16, 1971, The United Kingdom
United Kingdom
issued a policy called BIOT Immigration Ordinance #1 which made it a criminal offense for those without military clearance to be on the islands without a permit.[5]

Abandoned church at Boddam Island, Salomon Atoll.

Between 1967 and 1973, the Chagossians, then numbering over 1,000 people, were expelled by the British government, first to the island of Peros Banhos, 100 miles (160 km) away from their homeland, and then, in 1973, to Mauritius
Mauritius
(for the relationship between the Chagos Archipelago and Mauritius, see Chagos Archipelago).[6] A number of Chagossians
Chagossians
who were evicted reported they were threatened with being shot or bombed if they did not leave the island.[5] One old man reported to Washington Post
Washington Post
journalist David Ottaway that an American official told him, "If you don't leave you won't be fed any longer."[5] BIOT commissioner Bruce Greatbatch
Bruce Greatbatch
later ordered all dogs/pets on the island to be destroyed. Meanwhile, food stores on the island were allowed to deplete in order to pressure the remaining inhabitants to leave.[5] The Chagossians
Chagossians
owned no real property on the islands and lived in housing provided for farm workers by the absentee landowners of the plantations. The forced expulsion of the Chagossians after the acquisition of the plantations from their absentee landlords by the British Government was for the purpose of establishing a United States air and naval base on Diego Garcia, with a population of between 3,000 and 5,000 U.S. soldiers and support staff, as well as a few troops from the United Kingdom.[5]

Flag of the Chagossian community

In early April 2006, in an excursion organised and financed by the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office, a group of around a hundred Chagossians
Chagossians
were permitted to visit the British Indian Ocean
Indian Ocean
Territory for the first time in over thirty years.[7] Court battle[edit] In April 2006, the United States
United States
Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit rejected a lawsuit by Louis Olivier Bancoult and other Chagossians, finding that their claims were a political question.[8][9] On 11 May 2006, the Chagossians
Chagossians
won their case in the High Court of Justice in England, which found that they were entitled to return to the Chagos Archipelago. It remained to be seen how this judgment might be implemented in practice.[10] However, in June 2006 the British government filed an appeal in the Court of Appeal against the High Court's decision. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
put forward an argument based on the treatment of the Japanese Canadians following the attacks on Pearl Harbor.[11] After the Court of Appeal had upheld the decision of the High Court, the British government appealed successfully to the Judicial Committee of the House of Lords. On October 22, 2008, the Law Lords reached a decision on the appeal made by the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, David Miliband. They found in favour of the Government in a 3-2 verdict, ending the legal process in the UK and dashing the islanders' hopes of return. The judges who voted to allow the government's appeal were Lord Hoffmann, Lord Rodger of Earlsferry, and Lord Carswell; those dissenting were Lord Bingham of Cornhill and Lord Mance.[12] In 2016, the British government denied the right of the Chagossians
Chagossians
to return to the islands after a 45-year legal dispute.[3] Marine nature reserve and government communications leak[edit] In April 2010, the British Government—specifically, the British diplomat Colin Roberts, acting on the instructions of David Miliband[13]—established a marine nature reserve around the Chagos Islands known as the Chagos Marine Protected Area.[14] The designation proved controversial as the decision was announced during a period when the UK Parliament
UK Parliament
was in recess.[15] On December 1, 2010, a leaked US Embassy London
US Embassy London
diplomatic cable dating back to 2009[16] exposed British and US calculations in creating the marine nature reserve. The cable relays exchanges between US Political Counselor Richard Mills and British Director of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Colin Roberts, in which Roberts "asserted that establishing a marine park would, in effect, put paid to resettlement claims of the archipelago's former residents." Richard Mills concludes:

Establishing a marine reserve might, indeed, as the FCO's Roberts stated, be the most effective long-term way to prevent any of the Chagos Islands' former inhabitants or their descendants from resettling in the [British Indian Ocean
Indian Ocean
Territory].

The cable (reference ID "09LONDON1156")[17][18] was classified as confidential and "no foreigners", and leaked as part of the Cablegate cache. Armed with the Wikileaks revelations, the Chagossians
Chagossians
launched an appeal, seeking a judgement that the reserve was unlawfully aimed at preventing them returning home. Although United States
United States
Army soldier Chelsea Manning
Chelsea Manning
had been arrested nearly three years previously for the leaks, the UK government felt unable to confirm to the court that the leaked documents were genuine.[19] It was made clear to the court that the government's inability to confirm was for two reasons: firstly, to protect itself from the charge that it created the reserve to prevent the islanders from ever returning home and, secondly, out of a purported fear that the US government might get angry if the cables were acknowledged as genuine.[19] Despite the contents of his cable being known—"a marine park would, in effect, put paid to resettlement claims of the archipelago's former residents"—Roberts denied, when questioned in court, that there was an "ulterior motive" behind the reserve's establishment.[19] Lord Justice Richards and Mr Justice Mitting then refused to accept the documents as evidence, declaring that to do so would breach diplomatic privilege. The Guardian described their decision as having "far-reaching consequences" and "a severe setback for the use of material obtained from leaks or whistleblowers."[20] In June 2013, the pair of judges turned down the appeal brought by the Chagossians, ruling that everything was fine because the reserve was compatible with EU law.[13] Pollution[edit] It emerged in 2014 that—for three decades, in violation of environmental rules—the American navy had dumped hundreds of tonnes of sewage and waste water into a protected lagoon on Diego Garcia.[21] In response to the revelations, the chair of the Chagos Refugees Group UK Branch, Sabrina Jean, noted:

When we Chagossians
Chagossians
lived on our islands, the seas and lagoons were pristine. [...] For many years we have been pressing BIOT to conduct an environmental audit of the effects of the US occupation. This has been consistently refused, with the explanation that the impact of the occupation is minimal. We can now see that throughout this period there have been no controls on the pollution.[22]

Discourse about the Chagossians[edit]

Diplomatic cable
Diplomatic cable
from Patrick Wright, Baron Wright of Richmond signed by D.A. Greenhill, dated August 24, 1966, stating "Unfortunately along with the birds go some few Tarzans or Man Fridays."

The WikiLeaks
WikiLeaks
cables revealed diplomatic cables between the U.S. and U.K. about the Chagossians.[23] A cable written by D.A. Greenhill on August 24, 1966 to a U.S. State Department official refers to the Chagossians
Chagossians
as "some few Tarzans or Man Fridays."[24] Similar language appears in a 2009 U.S. State Department cable (09LONDON1156), which offered a description of the U.K. government's views about the effect of the Marine Protection Act:

However, Roberts stated that, according to the HMG's current thinking on a reserve, there would be “no human footprints” or “Man Fridays” on the BIOT’s uninhabited islands. He asserted that establishing a marine park would, in effect, put paid to resettlement claims of the archipelago’s former residents.[18]

2012 petition[edit] On 5 March 2012, an international petition was launched on We the People section of the whitehouse.gov website in order to ask the White House in the United States
United States
to consider the Chagos case. The petition read as follows:

The U.S. Government Must Redress Wrongs Against the Chagossians For generations, the Chagossians
Chagossians
lived on the Chagos Archipelago
Chagos Archipelago
in the Indian Ocean. But in the 1960s, the U.S. and U.K. governments expelled the Chagossians
Chagossians
from their homes to allow the United States to build a military base on Diego Garcia. Facing social, cultural, and economic despair, the Chagossians
Chagossians
now live as a marginalized community in Mauritius
Mauritius
and Seychelles
Seychelles
and have not been allowed to return home. The recent passing of the oldest member of the exiled population underscores the urgent need to improve the human rights of the Chagossians. We cannot let others die without the opportunity to return home and obtain redress. The United States
United States
should provide relief to the Chagossians
Chagossians
in the form of resettlement to the outer Chagos islands, employment, and compensation.[25]

On 4 April 2012, the sufficient number of 25,000 signatures was met to require a response from the Office of the President under its then-current policy. An undated response was posted on the White House petition web site by the United States
United States
Department of State, in the name of Michael Posner (Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor), Philip Gordon (Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs) and Andrew J. Shapiro
Andrew J. Shapiro
(Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs). The response read as follows:

Thank you for your petition regarding the former inhabitants of the Chagos Archipelago. The U.S. recognizes the British Indian Ocean Territories, including the Chagos Archipelago, as the sovereign territory of the United Kingdom. The United States
United States
appreciates the difficulties intrinsic to the issues raised by the Chagossian community. In the decades following the resettlement of Chagossians
Chagossians
in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
has taken numerous steps to compensate former inhabitants for the hardships they endured, including cash payments and eligibility for British citizenship. The opportunity to become a British citizen has been accepted by approximately 1,000 individuals now living in the United Kingdom. Today, the United States
United States
understands that the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
remains actively engaged with the Chagossian community. Senior officials from the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
continue to meet with Chagossian leaders; community trips to the Chagos Archipelago
Chagos Archipelago
are organized and paid for by the United Kingdom; and the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
provides support for community projects within the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
and Mauritius, to include a resource center in Mauritius. The United States
United States
supports these efforts and the United Kingdom’s continued engagement with the Chagossian Community. Thank you for taking the time to raise this important issue with us."[25]

See also[edit]

Depopulation of Diego Garcia Order in Council#United Kingdom Right of Return

References[edit]

^ "June 2012 update The UK Chagos Support Association". Chagossupport.org.uk. 2009-05-12. Retrieved 2013-08-01.  ^ "Chagos Islanders will not be allowed home, UK government says". BBC News. 16 November 2016. Archived from the original on 16 November 2016. Retrieved 16 November 2016.  ^ a b editor, Patrick Wintour Diplomatic (16 November 2016). "Chagos Islanders denied right to return home" – via The Guardian.  ^ Bowcott, Owen (16 November 2016). "Chagos islanders cannot return home, UK Foreign Office confirms" – via The Guardian.  ^ a b c d e Vine, David (2009). Island of shame : the secret history of the U.S. military base on Diego Garcia. Princeton: Princeton University Press. ISBN 9780691138695.  ^ African Research Group (2000). Health & Mortality in the Chagos Islands (PDF). Research and Analytical Papers. Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Retrieved February 26, 2016.  ^ "In Pictures: Chagossians' visit". BBC News. April 10, 2006. Retrieved January 2, 2010.  ^ "Recent Case: D.C. Circuit Holds Claims of Harms to Native Inhabitants of the British Indian Ocean Territory
British Indian Ocean Territory
Caused by the Construction of a U.S. Military Base Nonjusticiable" (PDF). Harvard Law Review. 120: 860. 2007. Retrieved 30 October 2017.  ^ Bancoult v. McNamara, 445 F.3d 427 (D.C. Cir. 2006). ^ "Court victory for Chagos families". BBC News. May 11, 2006. Retrieved January 2, 2010.  ^ "Foreign Office scraping the bottom of the barrel with Chagos appeal, says solicitor for exiled Chagossians". Black Britain. Colourful Network. Archived from the original on 28 September 2007.  ^ "Judgments - R (On The Application of Bancoult) V Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs". Retrieved 2008-10-22.  ^ a b Press Association
Press Association
(11 June 2013). " Chagos Islands
Chagos Islands
marine park is compatible with law, high court rules". guardian.co.uk. Retrieved 12 June 2013.  ^ "Welcome to the Chagos Conservation Trust Chagos Conservation Trust". Protectchagos.org. Archived from the original on 2012-01-19. Retrieved 2012-06-21.  ^ Rincon, Paul (1 April 2010). "UK sets up Chagos Islands
Chagos Islands
marine reserve". BBC News. Retrieved 12 August 2015.  ^ "leaked US diplomatic cable". Archived from the original on 2010-12-02. Retrieved 2010-12-01.  ^ "Cable Viewer". Wikileaks.org. 2009-05-15. Retrieved 2013-08-01.  ^ a b Full discussion and copy of WikiLeaks
WikiLeaks
cables - "HMG FLOATS PROPOSAL FOR MARINE RESERVE COVERING THE CHAGOS ARCHIPELAGO (BRITISH INDIAN OCEAN TERRITORY)". The Daily Telegraph. London: TMG. 2011-02-04. ISSN 0307-1235. OCLC 49632006. Retrieved 2011-04-21.  ^ a b c Richard Norton-Taylor (15 April 2013). "UK refuses to admit US embassy cables obtained by WikiLeaks
WikiLeaks
are genuine". guardian.co.uk. Retrieved 12 June 2013.  ^ Owen Bowcott (18 April 2013). " Chagossians
Chagossians
suffer blow in fight to go home as court rejects WikiLeaks
WikiLeaks
cable". guardian.co.uk. Retrieved 12 June 2013.  ^ Milmo, Cahal (15 March 2014). "Exclusive: World's most pristine waters are polluted by US Navy human waste". independent.co.uk. Retrieved 17 March 2014.  ^ Jean, Sabrina (14 March 2014). " Chagos Islands
Chagos Islands
saga: Let us Chagossians
Chagossians
return home". independent.co.uk. Retrieved 17 March 2014.  ^ Kazerooni, Ibrahim (2010-12-03). " WikiLeaks
WikiLeaks
Cables Reveal Use of Environmentalism by US and UK as Pretext to Keep Natives From Returning to Diego Garcia
Diego Garcia
Focal Points, the Blog of FPIF". Fpif.org. Retrieved 2012-06-21.  ^ "BBC NEWS - UK - Politics - The Chagos Islands: A sordid tale".  ^ a b "The U.S. Government Must Redress Wrongs Against the Chagossians". Whitehouse.gov. Archived from the original on 23 September 2011. Retrieved 4 April 2012. 

Wenban-Smith, N. and Carter, M., Chagos: A History, Exploration, Exploitation, Expulsion Published by Chagos Conservation Trust, London (2016), ISBN 978-0-9954596-0-1

External links[edit]

This section may lend undue weight to certain ideas, incidents, or controversies. Please help to create a more balanced presentation. Discuss and resolve this issue before removing this message. (January 2018)

Let Us Return USA http://www.letusreturnusa.org/ UK Chagos Support Association Chagos Islands
Chagos Islands
Site - The oldest site in favour of the Chagos Islanders Let Them Return - The Chagos People's Homeland Campaign Diego Garcia: Paradise Cleansed by John Pilger Spreading democracy, by any means necessary. the US/UK and Diego Garcia US/UK BIOT defence agreements, 1966-1982, US Court filing The UK Chagos Support Association

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