The historical context

 

Close your eyes. And remember. You are at home, surrounded by your loved ones, relatives, friends, neighbours. Your children are playing outside. You hear their laughter. You are in the land of your ancestors, where you were born, where you want to finish your life. All around you, huge sandy beaches and the ocean as far as the eye can see. Your life is simple. Fishing, making coconut oil, solidarity, celebrating, working the land, family dinners, trading rather than money make up your days. You think your memory is fooling you, that it is embellishing? Not even that. Your island is a paradise, really. But suddenly your eyes turn red, tears come. Hell is coming. Today, soldiers are forcing you and your loved ones on board, closing the door of your island behind you, double-locked and forever, to build a huge military base. Your dogs are killed in the process. You are thrown into a boat, towards other islands, towards misery, far from your life and your memory. You are thrown onto a quay, with no money, no accommodation, with nothing, amongst people whose hostility is tinged with racism. Many of you will not be able to handle this heartbreak, and will become alcoholics, drug addicts, and depressed. Some will commit suicide. You will not die where you were born. You are a Chagossian, a proud descendant of slaves, forced into exile by Great Britain on the orders of the United States.

 

A little-known tragedy with a decolonisation background

 

How and why were the lives of the Chagossians turned into hell? On 20th September 1965, negotiations began in London between British Prime Minister Harold Wilson and his Mauritian alter ego Seewoosagur Ramgoolam. The negotiation was in fact an ultimatum: if Ramgoolam wanted independence, he had to give up the Chagos archipelago to the British, which had been administered by Mauritius. Two months later, this group of islands was officially detached from the main island to become the " British Indian Ocean Territory ". It became the property of the United Kingdom, which immediately made it available to

the United States in exchange for money. On 30th December 1966, the American base of Diego Garcia was officially created. A few months later, the deportation of an entire people

began. Almost 2,000 Chagossians are being taken to Mauritius and the Seychelles, some

of them will then head for London. In the midst of the Cold War, the United States and its historical ally, the United Kingdom, were concerned about the strong Soviet presence in the area, as well as the increased oil demand from the Persian Gulf, with sea routes passing nearby. Neither do they appreciate the decrease of their influence in world geopolitics, an indirect consequence of the accelerated decolonisation process taking place in all four corners of the world, sealed by the Atlantic Charter in 1941. Within the missile range of the Indian subcontinent, the Middle East and its raw materials, Diego Garcia, one of the 55 islands of the Chagos archipelago, becomes a highly strategic location for them.

 

"The strategy of the United States is to have control over territories in order to establish

its control over the world"

 

Noam Chomsky