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Britain—leave Chagos now

After years of colonial injustice, the Mauritian flag was raised on Chagos.
Issue 2792
Chagos Archipelago military base

Plane takes off from Chagos Archipelago military base for an Iraqi bombing mission in 2010. (Nathan G. Bevier)

Britain is always desperate to back the US—whether it’s Ukraine, or in the middle of the Indian Ocean.

The government of Mauritius this week demanded Britain hand over the Chagos Islands. It comes more than 50 years after Britain expelled all the islands’ residents, destroying their lives.

Since then, multiple court rulings and the United Nations have demanded Britain let the islanders return to their homes. But Britain won’t do it. It would rather the US had the islands—for a military base and torture camp.

That’s why Britain’s Labour government deported all the Chagossians—the “Tarzans and Man Fridays” as one Foreign Office official called them—in 1966.

The US had been eyeing up the islands for a military airbase since the early 1960s—but it wanted them “swept and sanitised” first. Britain was only too happy to help.

So it rounded all the Chagossians up and deported them to Mauritius, where they lived in poverty. Some died of suicide or illness, and some others moved to Britain and Seychelles.

Since then, the US has used the islands as an airbase, and as a place to rendition and torture prisoners in the war on terror. Britain insists the US can have the islands until at least 2036.

So, in the interests of US power, Britain refuses justice to the living victims of its crimes of Empire.

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