the Disillusioned kid: Holidays in the Sun
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Sunday, September 12, 2004

Holidays in the Sun

This is over a month old and I've got no idea how I missed this the first time around, but it turns out that while the government won't let the Chagossians return to the islands from which they were evicted against their will, they are "set to approve plans for a commercial cruise around the remote archipelago south of the Maldives." Am I the only person that thinks this is a little unfair?

The story was reported in the Times in early August. The article reports,
Twelve tourists, paying up to £4,500 each, will travel with Wexas Travel aboard a 120ft (36m) yacht to snorkel on coral reefs, clear blue seas and tropical marine waters, says the company, adding: "It is far from the world of mass tourism."
Even the usually restrained Times found that final phrase, and the company's claim that all but one of the 65 Chagos Islands "remain uninhabited", hard to swallow. The reason there are no inhabitants on the island, as regular readers will be aware, is because the indigenous population were forced out by the British Government to make way for a US military base. They have subsequently been prevented from returning by various machinations on the part of the British Government, including, most recently, two "Orders in Council" which mean they cannot even set foot on the island. The treatment of the Chagossians was described by Lord Justice Sedley in the Appeal Court as "shameful", not without good reason.

The article gives a brief outline of this treatment and its consequences for the displaced population, before offering some further details on the cruise:
The Wexas trip will be led by chairman Dr Ian Wilson, a member of the "Friends of Chagos", which is largely made up of ex-naval officers and diplomats. He was approached to run the tour by the island's commissioner and awaits final FCO [Foreign and Commonwealth Office] approval.

A keen diver and Indian Ocean expert, he acknowledges the only financial beneficiary of the trip would be his company. "It is a tricky situation: while it is true that only a select few may visit, we can only snorkel and are not sure if we can go ashore anywhere.

"We have invited an Indian Ocean reef expert and marine ecologist, Dr Mark Spalding. It is an eco-trip and we want to encourage the idea of preserving the area."
So that's alright then?

Conclusion: The poor and powerless (the Chagossians) get fucked, the rich and powerful get to go snorkeling. Remind me again why I think we need to change the world?

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