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Persistence prays
January 5, 2013 2:41 AM   Subscribe

Chagos Islanders Lose the European Court Battle but the Struggle Continues Former residents of the Chagos Islands have lost their latest legal bid for the right to return following a European ruling. What next for the islanders? James Wan recaps the decades long struggle and the implications of the latest ruling on the fate of the former residents of Diego Garcia. Previously in 2002, 2003 2006 and some archives.
posted by infini (32 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
Appalling, but hardly surprising. The UK has a long history of depriving people of their lands, although actually exiling them to another country seems pretty drastic even for them.
posted by dg at 3:34 AM on January 5, 2013


There's nothing the current UK government can do about the actions of its predecessors. But much like the government's refusal to come to grips with its barbarism in Kenya in the 1950s, it is compounding its own shame and dishonor by fighting tooth-and-nail to stop the Chagosians from getting meaningful justice. What is it about these episodes from the past that makes the government willing to move heaven and earth to pretend it wasn't castrating men in concentration camps in Africa, or willing to use medieval procedures that bypass all democratic and legal institutions to keep a group of islanders the UK illegally expelled from going home?
posted by 1adam12 at 4:15 AM on January 5, 2013


Diego Garcia is now of major military importance to both the UK and US due to NSF Diego Garcia. The US Navy run major naval support operations out of there for Middle East stuff, and USAF use it as a base for bombing missions.

The importance of the base for the US regarding Iran in particular means that the UK will just let the islanders die off somewhere else.
posted by jaduncan at 5:09 AM on January 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


The UK has a long history of depriving people of their lands, although actually exiling them to another country seems pretty drastic even for them.

As an Australian.... no, not really.
Why would you say that?

(Not that this is an entirely UK issue).
posted by Mezentian at 5:12 AM on January 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'll also note that the details of relations related to NSF Diego Garcia are unknown; it is however quite possible that the UK has a secret treaty obligation to provide the US with access.
posted by jaduncan at 5:14 AM on January 5, 2013


As an Australian.... no, not really.

The countryside here is littered with the stone remains from a previous economic cleansing . That one lasted well over 100 years.
posted by titus-g at 5:43 AM on January 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


They should ask Argentina to invade.
posted by Devonian at 6:10 AM on January 5, 2013


They should ask Argentina to invade.

You might need Zombie Thatcher. Cameron would crunch the numbers and decided it's best to widthdraw and leave it to the Americans. Who can't afford it, but would consider it.
posted by Mezentian at 6:40 AM on January 5, 2013


You might need Zombie Thatcher

Cameron would relish the chance to have his own Thatcher-mini-me colonial war. Nothing boosts Tory poll ratings than a chance to bash some uppity foreigners, plus ça change...
posted by brilliantmistake at 7:35 AM on January 5, 2013


Nothing boosts Tory poll ratings than a chance to bash some uppity foreigners,
And now does PM Brown feel about that?
posted by Mezentian at 7:43 AM on January 5, 2013


invade. ???

Am I missing a subtle level of snark? It's a friggn American Military Air Base? Could China or Russia invade? Sure if they were looking for a incredibly stupid approach to starting WWIII.

I've rarely felt so much like a tiny cog in an imperialist empire.
posted by sammyo at 7:52 AM on January 5, 2013


Am I missing a subtle level of snark? It's a friggn American Military Air Base? Could China or Russia invade? Sure if they were looking for a incredibly stupid approach to starting WWIII.

It's not only that. It also contains many of the ships that patrol up and down the Persian Gulf, as well as an entire incursion force of Marines including tanks and other such materiel.

But Devonian is making a Falklands/Malvinas joke.
posted by jaduncan at 8:03 AM on January 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


The UK government relies on the majority of folk not being well acquainted with the facts behind this case. Almost everybody who is understands that the government more or less committed a form of genocide against the Chagosians. But over the years, the elite has perpetrated so many similar acts that this seems like nothing.
posted by Jehan at 8:22 AM on January 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Falklands issue is particularly reelvant at the moment of course, since the leader of UK went on record only two days ago as favouring self determination for island communities:

"The future of the Falkland Islands should be determined by the Falkland islanders themselves, the people who live there," said Cameron. "Whenever they have been asked their opinion they have said they want to retain their current status with the UK. They are holding a referendum this year and I hope the president of Argentina will listen to that referendum and recognise it is for the Falkland islanders to choose their future, and for as long as they choose to stay with the UK they have my 100% backing."

Bearing in mind its ultimately his decision to continue with the court cases denying the rights of the Chagosians to self determination I guess that makes him a two faced wanker.
posted by biffa at 9:39 AM on January 5, 2013 [5 favorites]


I will predict that this point is held to be important by HMG: "the people who live there". That's seperate from an acceptance of the right of return, as I'm sure the PA/Israeli situation flags up for everyone.

(not that I don't agree with you, I can just see the distinction that is going to be made).
posted by jaduncan at 9:50 AM on January 5, 2013


And on the Falklands: source:

Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner has released a public letter urging the United Kingdom to relinquish its control over the disputed Falkland Islands.

She accused Britain of taking part in an act of “blatant colonialism” in claiming the archipelago and called on UK Prime Minister David Cameron to honour UN resolutions that indicate both sides should sit at the negotiating table to discuss the sovereignty of the Falklands.
posted by DreamerFi at 10:02 AM on January 5, 2013


The thing is, the Falkland Islands, and how the UK came to own them, hardly rates as a wrong. The success of one colonial claim over and above all the others is neither here nor there, given that there were no native dwellers. That the government of Argentina and the UK use the dispute over the Falkland Islands as an onrunning distraction from other issues should be a shame on both of them.
posted by Jehan at 10:28 AM on January 5, 2013 [8 favorites]


The UK government relies on the majority of folk not being well acquainted with the facts behind this case.

How little it's known (I had never heard of it before today) is evidenced by the epetitions.direct.gov petition to try and get them some form of justice which as of now has 350 signatures (shortly to be 351); I'm assuming it's been up since last May.
posted by titus-g at 11:30 AM on January 5, 2013


Yes, there's some discussion on that (the ignorance) in the archives link in the OP.
posted by infini at 1:52 PM on January 5, 2013


titus-g: "How little it's known (I had never heard of it before today) ..."
Previously.
posted by brokkr at 5:27 PM on January 5, 2013


H'm. Took a long time for the real reason they disobeyed the high court and ignored the ruling to become apparent (i'm british, i've followed this for years): it was the primary base for the USA invasion of, i think, Iraq. One of those recent wars anyway. But what the hell do they want it for now? Bastards. In my name, with my money. Revolution.
posted by maiamaia at 5:59 PM on January 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ok, some history. We kicked them off illegally and recently. Then we claimed we couldn't let them back because we'd leased the island/s as a base to the US military - contractual obligations, all that palaver. That was thrown out by the high court, whatever that is when it's at home in this country - it used to be the house of lords, i think it'd already changed to a specialist place by the time of the ruling. So this was their next appeal, i guess. Like i said, i later heard Chagos was the main place for - i think it was when Pakistan or Turkey or some such place decided they wouldn't let america use them to launch their attacks from, they had to go somewhere else at shortish notice. As for whoever said about 'the current government aren't responsible' yes they bally well are. Apart from the fact that the majority of MPs (members of parliament) are career politicians, who're firmly ensconced in safe seats by the time they're up the career ladder (remember, we have a small change of majorities for each party at each election, so it's only the bottom 10% of the pecking order who face the risk), the Tories (this is an irish term of abuse for the conservatives, and i shan't bother with the 'middle ground' libdems, anyone who can see the middle ground between 'labour' and the tories has better eyesight than me) have always voted against this kind of thing (freedom for black people or foreigners) and, if say there was a big rebellion in labour ranks, it's the tories who would vote to force through this kind of thing. E.g. the Iraq War, which would never have passed, due to the size of the labour 'back bencher' (ie not in government) rebellion without the tories. (I believe that Bliar was not obliged to debate & vote the war, but called the debate, and made it law that in future it declarations of war must be debated. In the continuing shift towards dicatatorial centralised control in the UK (Pickles' war on council budgets, which will reduce many of them to mere offices for filling potholes in the roads - i know in america they don't usually provide libraries, swimming pools, nursing homes etc, because my dad is from there, but here they do/did - is the most recent and worst attempt) that includes the end of Cabinet government by Thatcher and the presidentialisation of the Prime Minister (totally anti-democratic) this was a rare pro-democratic move, dues where fair. As for the house of lords, that's always always been dominated by the Tories. It used to be landed gentry & aristocracy (& bishops - a lot of people mind that, but frankly hardly anyone else gives a fig about the poor) but Labour did make it mainly life peers. However, you get your peerage by being an MP or by giving lotsa lovely loot to the party of your choice. So it's for sale really. democracy my arse. I am still trying to remember what the USA used Chagos to launch. Think they've launched drones or something recently from it. It's bugging me and i'll be back if outsourcing my memory to google works.
posted by maiamaia at 6:15 PM on January 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


. I am still trying to remember what the USA used Chagos to launch. Think they've launched drones or something recently from it.

I came across this post when I was looking up the previouslys... though diego garcia is not in the tags, this comes up for a search. Does it help?
posted by infini at 6:19 PM on January 5, 2013


That the government of Argentina and the UK use the dispute over the Falkland Islands as an onrunning distraction from other issues should be a shame on both of them.

It isn't (only) about that, it's about mineral/oil rights both there and in the Antarctic.
posted by jaduncan at 6:05 AM on January 7, 2013


I'm curious to know (and probably derailing but just one question) ... is there oil in Mali?
posted by infini at 7:18 AM on January 7, 2013


No. Not any oil being actively extracted, anyway.

Not that I know what Mali has to do with this thread at all ...
posted by brokkr at 8:07 AM on January 7, 2013


jaduncan above mentioned oil rights ...and Mali is currently the next big whathaveyouthebases
posted by infini at 8:12 AM on January 7, 2013


Sorry, I thought that it would be clear from the quote that I was referring to the Falkland Islands.
posted by jaduncan at 10:38 AM on January 7, 2013


You were, I mentioned a derail.
posted by infini at 3:23 PM on January 7, 2013


Both Mali and the Falklands are roughly at the same stage of oil and gas exploration.
Both have huge targets, but not enough drilling has been done to define commercial quantities. The potential for both is staggering, and of course the UK wants to keep the Falklands, as much for the territorial rights that expose it to oil.

(Mali's war is ideological, and if they do find hydrocarbons there will be another rebellion).
posted by Mezentian at 3:48 AM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Just found out, Mali has uranium. Will add links when they surface reliably.
posted by infini at 5:16 AM on January 15, 2013


Le Monde in French
posted by infini at 6:52 AM on January 15, 2013


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