the Disillusioned kid: Remember Remember?
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Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Remember Remember?

Anniversaries are quite the thing nowdays. We have 9/11, 11/11, Waterloo 200, the monthly commemorations of the 7/7 attacks in London and probably an armful of others which I can't think of. Some anniversaries, however, receive rather less coverage. Mark Curtis, writing in today's Guardian, notes but one example:
Today, a British-engineered occupation enters its fifth decade. There will be no commemoration, despite the human toll and murkiness surrounding what is going on there. Yet an entire population, exiled from their homeland and betrayed by the British government, are stepping up their campaign to return home. The coming weeks may decide their fate.

Forty years ago this week, while African and Asian countries were throwing off British rule, Whitehall officials were busy establishing a new colony. The British Indian Ocean Territory (Biot) was created by detaching the Chagos island group from Mauritius and other small islands from the Seychelles, then both British colonies. Mauritius was given £3m in compensation; the following year, Britain signed a military agreement with the US leasing it the largest island, Diego Garcia, for 50 years.
Regular readers will be familiar with the events which followed: the indigenous population were removed by the British government, under the smokescreen of Foreign & Commonwealth Office lies, with the last leaving in 1973. There fight for the right to return has, as Curtis notes, continued ever since in the face of various government machinations.

Curtis has been a consistent critic of British foreign policy vis-a-vis Chagos, indeed his Web of Deceit, which includes a chapter on the issue, was one of the first places I learnt about the scandalous way the Chagossians had been treated. He made a brief appearance in John Pilger's documentary on the issue and more recently has decided to dedicate four or five days a month to the issue and campaign strategy. Hopefully then we can expect more of the same in the future.

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