US-UK-Diego Garcia (1770-2004) US-Britain-Diego Garcia (1770-2004) diego_garcia us_interventions_project 1770s diego_garcia_1875 false 1 ------ France issues leases to companies permitting them to establish coconut oil and copra plantations on the Chagos Islands. Enslaved Africans from Madagascar and Mozambique are brought in for labor. [[ | Gifford, 5/27/2004 ]] [[;ItemID=6470 | Pilger, 10/22/2004 ]] ====== 1814 diego_garcia_1876 false 1 ------ The French colony of Mauritius, which includes the Chagos Archipelago, is ceded to Britain as part of the Treaty of Paris. [[ | Gifford, 5/27/2004 ]] ====== 1950s diego_garcia_1904 false 1 ------ Traveler Robert Scott tours the Chagos Archipelago and later writes of a thriving settlement at East Point on the island of Diego Garcia. &#8220;East Point has a look of a French coastal village miraculously transferred whole to this shore,&#8221; he writes. He recalls &#8220;the touches of old-fashioned ostentation in the chateau and its relation to the church ... the neighborly way in which whitewashed stores, factories and workshops, shingled and thatched cottages, cluster round the green. The lamp standards along the roads and the parked motor lorries.&#8221; He notes how the islanders owned their own boats, fished, gardened and raised livestock. &#8220;Roots have been struck and a society peculiarly suited to the islands have [sic] been developed,&#8221; he observes. He also reports that there are three or four other villages on the island and numerous smaller hamlets. [[ | Sunday Times, 9/21/1975 ]] ====== 1963-1965 January 1965 diego_garcia_1877 false 1 ------ Concerned about the prospects of Soviet expansion in the Indian Ocean, the US government asks Britain to find an uninhabited island where the US can build a naval base. (( House of Representatives. The debate over the base and the island's former inhabitants. 6/5/1975 )) (( House of Representatives. The debate over the base and the island's former inhabitants. 11/4/1975 )) [[ | CBS News, 6/13/2003 ]] [[ | BBC, 11/03/2000 ]] [[ | Los Angeles Times, 11/4/2000 ]] [[ | Sunday Times, 9/21/1975 ]] ------ In return, the US says it is willing to waive up to $14 million in research and development fees related to Britain's Polaris missile program. (( House of Representatives. The debate over the base and the island's former inhabitants. 6/5/1975 )) (( House of Representatives. The debate over the base and the island's former inhabitants. 11/4/1975 )) [[ | BBC, 11/03/2000 ]] [[ | Los Angeles Times, 11/4/2000 ]] [[ | CBS News, 6/13/2003 ]] ------ The US puts its sights first on the island of Aldabra, located north of Madagascar. But the island is a breeding ground for rare giant tortoises, whose mating habits would likely be disturbed by military activities. Fearing that ecologists would bring publicity to US activities on the island, the US looks for an alternative. The US decides on Diego Garcia, the largest island of the Chagos Archipelago. It is strategically located in the heart of the Indian Ocean just south of the equator. There is one problem, however. The islands have a population of roughly 1,800 people (who are known as Chagossians, but also referred to as Ilois) who have inhabited the 65-island archipelago for more than 200 years. [[ | BBC, 11/03/2000 ]] [[ | Sunday Times, 9/21/1975 ]] ------ Most of them are descendents of African slaves (see [[ diego_garcia_1875 ]]) and Indian plantation workers. [[ | BBC, 1/10/2001 ]] ------ To deal with this &#8220;population problem,&#8221; British politicians, diplomats and civil servants begin a campaign &#8220;to maintain the pretence there [are] no permanent inhabitants&#8221; on the islands. They fear that if the international community learns about the existence of the population, it will demand that the Chagossians be recognized as a people &#8220;whose democratic rights have to be safeguarded.&#8221; [[ | BBC, 11/03/2000 ]] ====== ((+ Chagossians )) 1965 diego_garcia_1882 false 1 ------ Sir Bruce Greatbatch, governor of Seychelles, says in a Foreign Office memorandum how the US has made the depopulation of the Chagos Islands &#8220;virtually a condition of the agreement.&#8221; Describing the islands' inhabitants, he says, &#8220;[T]hese people have little aptitude for anything other than growing coconuts.&#8221; They are &#8220;unsophisticated and untrainable,&#8221; he remarks. [[;ItemID=6470 | Pilger, 10/22/2004 ]] [[,,1317945,00.html | Guardian, 10/2/2004 ]] ====== ((- Chagossians )) ((+ Sir Bruce Greatbatch )) 1965 (February 1965) diego_garcia_1880 false 1 ------ Commenting on the US and Britain's plan to evict the inhabitants of Diego Garcia so the two countries can establish a military base on the island (see [[ diego_garcia_1877 ]]), British Colonial Secretary Anthony Greenwood warns that it must be presented to the United Nations &#8220;with a fait accompli.&#8221; [[ | BBC, 11/03/2000 ]] ====== ((+ Anthony Greenwood )) ((- Chagossians )) April 1965 diego_garcia_1924 false 1 ------ British Secretary of State for the Colonies Anthony Greenwood travels to Mauritius to negotiate terms of independence for Mauritius. He says Britain expects to retain the Chagos Archipelago when Mauritius becomes independent. [[ | Sunday Times, 9/21/1975 ]] ====== ((- Anthony Greenwood )) November 1965 diego_garcia_1881 false 1 ------ A telegram sent to the UK mission at the United Nations describes how the US and Britain are conspiring to hide the fact that the planned relocation of residents from the island of Diego Garcia will include inhabitants who have lived there for generations. The US intends to establish a military base on the island (see [[ diego_garcia_1877 ]]). &#8220;We recognize that we are in a difficult position as regards references to people at present on the detached islands,&#8221; the telegram says. &#8220;We know that a few were born in Diego Garcia and perhaps some of the other islands, and so were their parents before them. We cannot therefore assert that there are no permanent inhabitants, however much this would have been to our advantage. In these circumstances, we think it would be best to avoid all references to permanent inhabitants.&#8221; [[ | BBC, 11/03/2000 ]] ====== ((- Chagossians )) Early November 1965 diego_garcia_1878 false 1 ------ During negotiations with Mauritius over independence, Prime Minister Harold Wilson insists that Britain retain the Chagos Archipelago. [[ | BBC, 1/10/2001 ]] [[ | Los Angeles Times, 11/4/2000 ]] ------ Britain plans to forcibly remove the archipelago's inhabitants from their homes so the largest island, Diego Garcia, can be leased to the US, which intends to establish a military presence on the island (see [[ diego_garcia_1877 ]]). ====== ((- Harold Wilson )) ((- Chagossians )) November 8, 1965 diego_garcia_1879 false 1 ------ Britain issues an Order in Council (SI 1965/1920) separating the Chagos Archipelago, Aldabra, Farquhar and Desroches from Mauritius and making them into a new colony, the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT). (( British Royal Court, Case No: HQ02X01287, 10/3/2003 )) [[ | BBC, 11/03/2000 ]] ------ Britain pays the Seychelles and Mauritius three million pounds for their &#8220;loss of sovereignty&#8221; over the islands. [[ | Sunday Times, 9/21/1975 ]] ====== January 1966 diego_garcia_1883 false 1 ------ A British Foreign Office official writes of &#8220;convert[ing] all the existing residents [of the Chagos Islands] into short-term, temporary residents&#8221; in order to justify their removal to make room for US naval facilities planned for the island of Diego Garcia (see [[ diego_garcia_1877 ]]). [[,,1317945,00.html | Guardian, 10/2/2004 ]] [[;ItemID=6470 | Pilger, 10/22/2004 ]] ====== ((- Chagossians )) August 1966 diego_garcia_1884 false 1 ------ Sir Paul Gore-Booth, a senior official at the Foreign Office, writes to diplomat Dennis Greenhill about the &#8220;population problem&#8221; on the island of Diego Garcia where the US and Britain want to establish a military base (see [[ diego_garcia_1877 ]]). &#8220;We must surely be very tough about this,&#8221; he says. &#8220;The object of the exercise is to get some rocks which will remain ours... There will be no indigenous population except seagulls... The United States Government will require the removal of the entire population of the atoll by July.&#8221; In his reply, Greenhill says, &#8220;Unfortunately along with the birds go some few Tarzans or Man Fridays whose origins are obscure and who are hopefully being wished on to Mauritius.&#8221; (( British Royal Court, Case No: HQ02X01287, 10/3/2003 )) [[ | BBC, 11/03/2000 ]] [[,,1317945,00.html | Guardian, 10/2/2004 ]] [[;ItemID=6470 | Pilger, 10/22/2004 ]] [[ | Los Angeles Times, 11/4/2000 ]] [[ | National Post, 3/1/2001 ]] [[ | CBS News, 6/13/2003 ]] ====== ((- Chagossians )) ((+ Paul Gore-Booth )) ((+ Dennis Greenhill )) (1966) (September 1966) diego_garcia_1885 false 1 ------ Under the heading &#8220;Maintaining The Fiction,&#8221; an unnamed British official recommends in a memo that Britain reclassify the residents of the Chagos Archipelago as &#8220;a floating population.&#8221; He also suggests making &#8220;up the rules as we go along.&#8221; [[;ItemID=6470 | Pilger, 10/22/2004 ]] ====== ((- Chagossians )) December 30, 1966 diego_garcia_1886 false 1 ------ The US and Britain secretly agree to make the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT) available &#8220;for the defense purposes of both Governments as they may arise&#8221; for a period of 50 years, and thereafter for 20 years during which time either government will have the right to terminate the agreement. (( Agreement on the Availability of Certain Indian Ocean Islands for Defense Purposes. 12/30/1966 )) (( Letter from the British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs to the American Ambassador. 12/30/1966 )) [[ | BBC, 11/11/2004 ]] [[,4273,4057649,00.html | Guardian, 9/01/2000 ]] [[ | BBC, 1/10/2001 ]] ====== ((+ David Kirkpatrick Este Bruce )) ((+ George T. Churchill )) 1967- 1968 diego_garcia_1887 false 1 ------ On two separate voyages, plantation workers and residents leave the Chagos Islands on the Mauritius, a ship operated by Rogers &amp; Co., to Port Louis, Mauritius's capital. Many of the passengers are going to Mauritius only temporarily and intend to return to the island. But when they try to return to the Chagos Islands in 1968, they are refused passage and told they will not be permitted to return to their homes. The islanders are thus left stranded in Mauritius, without resettlement assistance or compensation. (( British Royal Court, Case No: HQ02X01287, 10/3/2003 )) [[ | BBC, 11/03/2000 ]] [[ | The Washington Post, 9/9/1975 ]] [[ | Los Angeles Times, 11/4/2000 ]] ------ Olivier Bancoult later recounts to the BBC how his 11-member family went to Mauritius in 1968 so that his ill sister could see a doctor. After she died, family members tried to return to the islands, but &#8220;were told the land had been given to the Americans for a US military base.&#8221; [[ | Los Angeles Times, 11/4/2000 ]] ------ The British also purchase the islands' copra plantations and shut down their medical facilities. [[ | BBC, 11/03/2000 ]] ------ Ships carrying food and medicine to Diego Garcia are turned back. [[ | CBS News, 6/13/2003 ]] ------ These measures are taken with the knowledge of British Prime Minister Harold Wilson and his Conservative successor, Edward Heath. [[ | BBC, 11/03/2000 ]] ====== ((+ Chagossians )) ((+ Edward Heath )) ((+ Harold Wilson )) 1968 diego_garcia_1889 false 1 ------ Foreign Secretary Michael Stewart writes that &#8220;by any stretch of the English language, there was an indigenous population and the Foreign Office knew it.&#8221; [[;ItemID=6470 | Pilger, 10/22/2004 ]] ====== ((+ Robert Maitland Michael Stewart )) ((- Chagossians )) July 5, 1968 diego_garcia_1888 false 1 ------ The US informs Britain that it will proceed with an &#8220;austere&#8221; communication and other facilities on Diego Garcia, the largest atoll of the Chagos Archipelago. This information is not made public. (( British Royal Court, Case No: HQ02X01287, 10/3/2003 )) ====== 1969 diego_garcia_1893 false 1 ------ British Foreign Secretary Michael Stewart notes in a memo to Prime Minister Harold Wilson that Parliament and US Congress were not informed that the US had waived several million dollars worth of fees associated with Britain's Polaris submarine program (see [[ diego_garcia_1877 ]]). The US had agreed to waive the fees in exchange for an agreement that the British would rid Diego Garcia of its indigenous inhabitants so the US could build a military base there. [[ | CBS News, 6/13/2003 ]] [[ | Los Angeles Times, 11/4/2000 ]] [[ | BBC, 11/03/2000 ]] ====== ((- US Congress )) ((+ Harold Wilson )) ((+ Robert Maitland Michael Stewart )) April 1969 diego_garcia_1892 false 1 ------ British Prime Minister Harold Wilson, Chancellor of the Exchequer Roy Jenkins and Secretary of State for Defense Denis Healey approve plans to completely evacuate the Chagos Islands in order to make way for the construction of a US communications facility on Diego Garcia, the archipelago's largest island. (( British Royal Court, Case No: HQ02X01287, 10/3/2003 )) ====== ((+ Harold Wilson )) ((- Chagossians )) ((+ Denis Healey )) ((+ Roy Jenkins )) April 21, 1969 diego_garcia_1890 false 1 ------ In a secret memo to British Prime Minister Harold Wilson, Foreign Secretary Michael Stewart proposes that Britain mislead the UN &#8220;by present(ing) any move as a change of employment for contract workers&#8212;rather than as a population resettlement.&#8221; [[;ItemID=6470 | Pilger, 10/22/2004 ]] ------ Five days later, Wilson approves the recommendation (see [[ diego_garcia_1891 ]]). ====== ((+ Robert Maitland Michael Stewart )) ((+ Harold Wilson )) ((- Chagossians )) April 26, 1969 diego_garcia_1891 false 1 ------ British Prime Minister Harold Wilson approves a recommendation (see [[ diego_garcia_1890 ]]) by Foreign Secretary Michael Stewart to mislead the UN about the population of the Chagos Islands. [[;ItemID=6470 | Pilger, 10/22/2004 ]] ====== ((+ Robert Maitland Michael Stewart )) ((- Chagossians )) December 1970 diego_garcia_1894 false 1 ------ US Congress approves plans to construct a defense facility on the island of Diego Garcia in the Chagos Archipelago. (( British Royal Court, Case No: HQ02X01287, 10/3/2003 )) ====== ((+ US Congress )) 1971 diego_garcia_1896 false 1 ------ A British ordinance denies the inhabitants of the Chagos Archipelago the legal right to return once they have been evicted from the islands. The British government claims that the measure is necessary in order to ensure &#8220;the peace, order and good government of the territory.&#8221; [[,4273,4057649,00.html | Guardian, 9/01/2000 ]] ====== ((+ Chagossians )) After 1971 diego_garcia_1897 false 1 ------ When the US military base at Diego Garcia is completed, employment recruiters are instructed not to hire former inhabitants of the Chagos Islands. Benoit Emileien, a former employee of the base, later recalls, &#8220;I was given instruction to be careful. They don't want any kind of claim or demonstration.&#8221; Emileien also says discussion of the island's former inhabitants was taboo. (( Benoit Emileien )) [[ | CNN, 6/18/2003 ]] ------ Instead, the US hires workers from the Philippines and Mauritius. [[,3604,410578,00.html | Guardian, 12/13/2000 ]] ====== ((- Benoit Emileien )) ((- Chagossians )) After 1971 diego_garcia_1898 false 1 ------ The United States prohibits former inhabitants of Diego Garcia from visiting the graves of their ancestors, despite a letter from the British government urging the US to grant them permission. [[ | CNN, 6/18/2003 ]] ====== ((+ Chagossians )) January 24, 1971 diego_garcia_1899 false 1 ------ The administrator of the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT), John Rawling Todd, tells the remaining inhabitants of Diego Garcia that Britain intends &#8220;to close the island in July.&#8221; The islands of Peros Banhos and Salomon will remain open for the time-being. (( British Royal Court, Case No: HQ02X01287, 10/3/2003 )) ====== ((+ John Rawling Todd )) ((+ Chagossians )) March 1971 diego_garcia_1895 false 1 ------ Plantations at Diego Garcia cease their operations with the arrival of American Navy Seabees. (( House of Representatives. The debate over the base and the island's former inhabitants. 11/4/1975 )) [[ | Sunday Times, 9/21/1975 ]] [[ | CBC, n.d. ]] [[ | US Navy website ]] ====== July 27, 1971-May 26, 1973 diego_garcia_1900 false 1 ------ With the arrival of the first Americans at Diego Garcia, the largest atoll of the Chagos Archipelago, the island's remaining residents are told they must leave. [[ | BBC, 11/03/2000 ]] [[ | CNN, 6/18/2003 ]] [[ | CBS News, 6/13/2003 ]] ------ Recalling the massive forced relocation, Marcel Moulinie, the manager of a coconut plantation on the island, tells CBS 60 minutes in 2003 that he was ordered to ship the people out. &#8220;Total evacuation. They wanted no indigenous people there,&#8221; Marcel Moulinie explains. &#8220;When the final time came and the ships were chartered, they weren't allowed to take anything with them except a suitcase of their clothes. The ships were small and they could take nothing else, no furniture, nothing.&#8221; To make it clear to residents that there would be no compromise, Sir Bruce Greatbatch, governor of the Seychelles, orders the killing of the Chagossians' pets, which are rounded up into a furnace and gassed with exhaust fumes from American military vehicles. [[ | CNN, 6/18/2003 ]] [[;ItemID=6470 | Pilger, 10/22/2004 ]] [[ | CBS News, 6/13/2003 ]] ------ &#8220;They put the dogs in a furnace where the people worked,&#8221; Lisette Talatte, a Chagossian, will later tell investigative journalist John Pilger. &#8220;[W]hen their dogs were taken away in front of them our children screamed and cried.&#8221; [[;ItemID=6470 | Pilger, 10/22/2004 ]] ------ Marie Therese Mein, another Chagossian, later says US officials threatened to bomb them if they did not leave. [[;ItemID=6470 | Pilger, 10/22/2004 ]] [[ | Foreign Policy in Focus, 1/28/2002 ]] ------ And the Washington Post interviews one man in 1975 who says he was told by an American official, &#8220;If you don't leave you won't be fed any longer.&#8221; [[ | The Washington Post, 9/9/1975 ]] ------ The Chagossians are first shipped to the nearby islands of Peros Banhos and Salomon and then 1,200 miles away to Mauritius and the Seychelles. [[ | CBS News, 6/13/2003 ]] [[ | CNN, 6/18/2003 ]] [[ | BBC, 11/03/2000 ]] ------ Before the eviction, the Chagossians were employed, grew their own fruit and vegetables, raised poultry and ducks, and fished. (( British Royal Court, Case No: HQ02X01287, 10/3/2003 )) [[ | The Tribune (Bahamas), 11/17/2003 ]] [[ | Sunday Times, 9/21/1975 ]] [[ | Foreign Policy in Focus, 1/28/2002 ]] ------ On the island of Diego Garcia, there was a church, a school as well as a few stores. [[ | Sunday Times, 9/21/1975 ]] ------ But now, after being removed from their homes and dumped into foreign lands without compensation or resettlement assistance, they are forced to live in poverty. [[ | CBS News, 6/13/2003 ]] [[ | CNN, 6/18/2003 ]] ------ The uprooted Chagossians find shelter in abandoned slums, which have no water or electricity. [[ | Sunday Times, 9/21/1975 ]] [[ | Church Times, 1/7/2005 ]] ------ Many commit suicide during and after the eviction campaign. [[;ItemID=6470 | Pilger, 10/22/2004 ]] ------ Describing the plight of the Chagossians at this time, the British High Court writes in 2003: &#8220;The Ilois [Chagossians] were experienced in working on coconut plantations but lacked other employment experience. They were largely illiterate and spoke only Creole. Some had relatives with whom they could stay for a while; some had savings from their wages; some received social security, but extreme poverty routinely marked their lives. Mauritius already itself experienced high unemployment and considerable poverty. Jobs, including very low paid domestic service, were hard to find. The Ilois were marked by their poverty and background for insults and discrimination. Their diet, when they could eat, was very different from what they were used to. They were unused to having to fend for themselves in finding jobs and accommodation and they had little enough with which to do either. The contrast with the simple island life which they had left behind could scarcely have been more marked.&#8221; ====== ((+ Chagossians )) ((+ Lisette Talatte )) ((+ Marie Therese Mein )) ((+ Marcel Moulinie )) ((+ Sir Bruce Greatbatch )) 1972 diego_garcia_1916 false 1 ------ Britain permits the US to establish &#8220;a limited communications station&#8221; on the island of Diego Garcia. (( House of Representatives. The debate over the base and the island's former inhabitants. 6/5/1975 )) ====== September 4, 1972 diego_garcia_1901 false 1 ------ Britain agrees to pay &#163;650,000 (about $1.4 million) to the Mauritius government for costs associated with the resettlement of the Chagossians, who are being evicted from their homes in the Chagos Islands by the British (see [[ diego_garcia_1900 ]]). It is paid in March 1973. No help is provided to Seychelles, which has also received displaced islanders. (( British Royal Court, Case No: HQ02X01287, 10/3/2003 )) [[ | The Washington Post, 9/9/1975 ]] ------ Most of the money goes toward repaying debts the Chagossians have incurred. [[ | The Tribune (Bahamas), 11/17/2003 ]] ====== ((- Chagossians )) March 1973 diego_garcia_1925 false 1 ------ The US completes a Navy communications facility on the island of Diego Garcia. [[ | Sunday Times, 9/21/1975 ]] ====== February 1974 diego_garcia_1917 false 1 ------ The US seeks permission from Britain to build a military support facility on the island of Diego Garcia. (( House of Representatives. The debate over the base and the island's former inhabitants. 6/5/1975 )) ====== December 1974 diego_garcia_1918 false 1 ------ Britain agrees to a US request (see [[ diego_garcia_1917 ]]) for permission to build a military support facility on the island of Diego Garcia. This replaces an earlier 1972 agreement (see [[ diego_garcia_1916 ]]) that permitted the US to establish a &#8220;a limited communications station&#8221; on the island. (( House of Representatives. The debate over the base and the island's former inhabitants. 6/5/1975 )) ====== (March 1975) diego_garcia_1923 false 1 ------ Former inhabitants of the Chagos Islands deliver a formal petition to the British embassy, asking Britain to see that the Mauritian government provides them with plots of land, a house for each family and jobs. The Chagossians, who were evicted from their homes by the British a few years before (see [[ diego_garcia_1900 ]]), say that absent this help, they would prefer being allowed to return to the islands. Copies of the petition are delivered to the American embassy, Mauritian Prime Minister Seewoosagur Ramgoolam, and several opposition leaders of the Mauritian government. [[ | The Washington Post, 9/9/1975 ]] ====== March 6, 1975 diego_garcia_1921 false 1 ------ A State Department official tells Congress, &#8220;[T]he nature of the island [of Diego Garcia] itself, which is a rather small piece of land, is also fortuitous in that it has no local population whatsoever so we have a minimal degree of the sort of political problems that are sometimes associated with establishing a facility of this sort.&#8221; (( House of Representatives. The debate over the base and the island's former inhabitants. 11/4/1975 )) ====== ((+ US Congress )) June 5, 1975 diego_garcia_1902 false 1 ------ US military officials tell Congress that the US needs to develop naval support facilities on the island of Diego Garcia. The Pentagon wants to lengthen the runway at Diego Garcia from 8,000 to 12,000 feet, increase the available POL (Petroleum, Oils, and Lubricants) storage, and dredge its harbor. It would also like to build additional barracks, a pier to facilitate cargo handling, as well as additional utility and recreational facilities. The officials argue that expanding the base at Diego Garcia is needed to safeguard US oil interests in the Persian Gulf and to counter the Soviet Union's presence in the region, which the military claims is increasing rapidly. They attempt to allay Congress' concerns that expanding the base would provoke competition in that region with the Soviet Union. At one point during the hearing, George Vest, Director of the Bureau of Politico-Military Affairs of the Department of State, says the island is &#8220;uninhabited,&#8221; making no reference to the fact that it had been made so by the US and British only a few years before (see [[ diego_garcia_1900 ]]). When further questioned on the subject, Vest repeats that there are &#8220;no inhabitants&#8221; at all on the island. (( House of Representatives. The debate over the base and the island's former inhabitants. 6/5/1975 )) [[ | Los Angeles Times, 11/4/2000 ]] ====== ((+ US Department of Defense )) ((+ US Congress )) ((- George Vest )) July 28, 1975 diego_garcia_1926 false 1 ------ US Congress passes a bill allowing the Department of Defense to upgrade the communications facility at Diego Garcia to a &#8220;naval support&#8221; base. The US will lengthen the island's runway from 8,000 to 12,000 feet, increase the available POL (Petroleum, Oils, and Lubricants) storage, and dredge its harbor, among other improvements. [[ | Sunday Times, 9/21/1975 ]] ====== ((+ US Congress )) September 9, 1975 diego_garcia_1919 false 1 ------ The Washington Post is the first Western newspaper to report about the forced relocation of the inhabitants of the Chagos Islands. US officials had previously claimed that the island of Diego Garcia was &#8220;uninhabited,&#8221; (see [[ diego_garcia_1902 ]]) (see [[ diego_garcia_1921 ]]) conveniently ignoring the fact that the island had been depopulated by Britain and the US (see [[ diego_garcia_1900 ]]). [[ | The Washington Post, 9/11/1975 ]] [[ | The Washington Post, 9/09/1975 ]] ====== October 10, 1975 diego_garcia_1922 false 1 ------ The Pentagon provides Congress with a &#8220;Report on the Resettlement of Inhabitants of the Chagos Archipelago.&#8221; The 10-page report, drafted in response to congressional inquiries, asserts that prior to the &#8220;resettlement&#8221; of the inhabitants of the Chagos Archipelago, the islands &#8220;were sparsely populated, essentially by contract workers and their dependents who bad been brought to the islands to work in coconut plantations.&#8221; Pressing its case that the islanders were not permanent inhabitants of the islands, the report claims there was &#8220;little evidence of any real sense of a distinct community evolved by the special local environment,&#8221; and adds that &#8220;any attachment to the locale could be attributed to the easy-going ways of the old plantation company rather than to sentiments regarding the islands themselves.&#8221; Without any supporting evidence, the report claims that &#8220;it appeared that the transfer of the inhabitants of the Chagos Archipelago would be feasible and that the persons then working on the islands would accept employment under suitable conditions elsewhere.&#8221; According to the Pentagon, the inhabitants left the island without protest. &#8220;We understand from the British that although there was some initial reluctance on the part of the older people to move, all went willingly,&#8221; the report says. &#8220;No coercion was used and no British or US servicemen were involved.&#8221; The Pentagon report concludes: &#8220;United States and United Kingdom officials acted in good faith on the basis of information then available to them, with respect to the issue of resettling the people of the Chagos Archipelago.&#8221; (( Department of Defense. Report on the Resettlement of Inhabitants of the Chagos Archipelago. 10/10/1975 )) ====== November 4, 1975 diego_garcia_1920 false 1 ------ A congressional subcommittee of the Committee on International Relations holds a hearing on the circumstances surrounding the establishment of the US military facility at Diego Garcia island. The hearing focuses on the forced eviction of the archipelago's inhabitants (see [[ diego_garcia_1900 ]]). --- Testimony of George T. Churchill --- In his statement to Congress, George T. Churchill, director of International Security Operations at the Department of State, attempts to defend the State Department and Pentagon from accusations that they misled Congress about the inhabitants of Diego Garcia. He asserts that the island's population had consisted mainly of &#8220;contract laborers and their families whose livelihood depended on the coconut plantations and whose ties to the island were tenuous.&#8221; Their settlements, he says, &#8220;appear to have been something more than work camps but considerably less than free indigenous communities.&#8221; Churchill argues that resettlement was necessary because the islanders would not have had work once the plantations were replaced by US military facilities. When it was time to go, he claims, the residents &#8220;went willingly.&#8221; He also contends that he could find no evidence in government files that there was a &#8220;lack of concern for the inhabitants of the Chagos Islands.&#8221; He admits that his report is based entirely on US and British sources and that no attempt was made to interview the former inhabitants or request information from the Mauritius government&#8212;despite his acknowledgement that on many issues, there &#8220;simply wasn't enough data.&#8221; Churchill argues that it was Britain's responsibility to see to the islanders' welfare after resettlement and denies that the US has any obligation&#8212;moral or legal&#8212;to the islanders, even though their eviction had been a condition of the US' 1966 agreement (see [[ diego_garcia_1886 ]]) with Britain to use the island. (( House of Representatives. The debate over the base and the island's former inhabitants. 11/4/1975 )) --- Testimony of Commander Gary Sick --- Pentagon official Gary Sick addresses accusations that the military has misled Congress about Diego Garcia's population. In his testimony he cites instances where passing references were made about the islands' population, including a 1964 Washington Post article mentioning the possibility that an &#8220;indigenous population&#8221; might exist on the island; a 1969-1979 Pentagon spending proposal which referred to the islanders as &#8220;rotating contract personnel engaged in harvesting copra&#8221;; and a 1970 congressional hearing in which it was stated that the &#8220;British [had] gone a little farther about removing the population from there now.&#8221; (( House of Representatives. The debate over the base and the island's former inhabitants. 11/4/1975 )) ====== ((+ US Congress )) ((+ Gary G. Sick )) ((+ George T. Churchill )) 1977-1978 diego_garcia_1903 false 1 ------ The Mauritius government disperses the &#163;650,000, received by the British in 1973 (see [[ diego_garcia_1900 ]]), to 595 Chagossians families. Since 1973, inflation has significantly reduced the value of the resettlement sum. (( British Royal Court, Case No: HQ02X01287, 10/3/2003 )) ====== ((+ Chagossians )) 1983 diego_garcia_1905 false 1 ------ The British government pays roughly $6 million in compensation to the former inhabitants of the Chagos Islands who were forcibly removed from their homeland to make way for a US military base between 1971 and 1973 (see [[ diego_garcia_1900 ]]). When Chagossians go to the Social Security Office to collect their compensation they are required to endorse, by signature or thumbprint, a renunciation form forfeiting their right to ever return home. Though Chagossians speak Creole, the forms are written in English and are not translated for them. (( British Royal Court, Case No: HQ02X01287, 10/3/2003 )) [[ | The Tribune (Bahamas), 11/17/2003 ]] ====== ((+ Chagossians )) June 21, 2000 diego_garcia_1906 false 1 ------ Eric Newsom, assistant secretary of state for political-military affairs, sends a letter to Richard Wilkinson, the director for the Americas at Britain's Foreign Office, urging the British government to prohibit former inhabitants of the Chagos Islands from returning to any of the islands in the 65-island archipelago. The former inhabitants want to resettle two islands, Salomons and Peros Banhos, which are located about 140 miles from Diego Garcia where a major US military base is located. The letter claims that allowing the islands' former residents to resettle their homelands &#8220;would significantly degrade the strategic importance of a vital military asset unique in the region.&#8221; He explains: &#8220;If a resident population were established on the Chagos archipelago, that could well imperil Diego Garcia's present advantage as a base from which it is possible to conduct sensitive military operations that are important for the security of both our governments but that, for reasons of security, cannot be staged from bases near population centers.... Settlements on the outer islands would also immediately raise the alarming prospect of the introduction of surveillance, monitoring and electronic jamming devices that have the potential to disrupt, compromise or place at risk vital military operations.&#8221; He also informs Wilkinson of US plans to expand the base. &#8220;In carrying out our defense and security responsibilities in the Arabian Gulf, the Middle East, south Asia and east Africa, Diego Garcia represents for us an all but indispensable platform. For this reason, in addition to extensive naval requirements, the USG is seeking the permission of your government to develop the island as a forward operating location for expeditionary air force operations&#8212;one of only four such locations worldwide,&#8221; the letter goes on to say. [[,4273,4057649,00.html | Guardian, 9/01/2000 ]] ====== ((+ Eric Newsom )) ((- Chagossians )) ((+ Richard Wilkinson )) November 3, 2000 diego_garcia_1907 false 1 ------ In London, Lord Justice Laws and Justice Gibbs rule that the US and Britain's forced removal of some 1,800 people from the Chagos Islands (see [[ diego_garcia_1900 ]]) was illegal, thereby granting the islands' former inhabitants the right to resettle the archipelago. [[ | Church Times, 1/7/2005 ]] [[ | Los Angeles Times, 11/4/2000 ]] [[,3604,392685,00.html | Guardian, 11/4/2000 ]] [[ | BBC, 11/3/2000 ]] [[ | BBC, 10/31/2002 ]] ------ The court also awards the Chagossians with the costs of resettling [[,3604,392685,00.html | Guardian, 11/4/2000 ]] ------ but does not order the government to provide them with compensation. [[,3604,410578,00.html | Guardian, 12/13/2000 ]] ------ The judges also find that the two governments deliberately misled the United Nations and their own legislative bodies when they claimed that the displaced population consisted entirely of seasonal contract workers from Mauritius and the Seychelles and had no right to remain there (see [[ diego_garcia_1890 ]]). Additionally, the ruling criticizes the two governments for not seeing to the welfare of the islanders after they were evicted. [[ | Foreign Policy In Focus, 1/28/2002 ]] ------ Within hours of the ruling, the British Foreign Office accepts the judgment but says that the islanders will only be permitted to resettle on the islands of Penhos Banhos and Salomon. No one will be permitted to return to Diego Garcia, the largest of the islands, where most of the Chagossians once lived. The US is leasing the island until 2016 (see [[ diego_garcia_1886 ]]) and is operating a very large naval base there (see [[ diego_garcia_1895 ]]). [[ | Los Angeles Times, 11/4/2000 ]] [[,3604,392685,00.html | Guardian, 11/4/2000 ]] ------ Commenting on the case, an unnamed US Defense Department official tells the Los Angeles Times: &#8220;The United States does have a strategic interest on Diego Garcia. But this is a matter between the British authorities and the individuals who brought the case. We have no comment on the merits of the case.&#8221; The official adds that Diego Garcia &#8220;has played a primary role in the support of naval and Air Force units operating in the Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf.&#8221; [[ | Los Angeles Times, 11/4/2000 ]] ====== ((+ Chagossians )) December 2000 diego_garcia_1908 false 1 ------ After a British court rules that the former inhabitants of the Chagos Islands have a right to return home (see [[ diego_garcia_1907 ]]), the US, which is leasing the archipelago's largest island, Diego Garcia, says it will not allow the islanders to return to Diego Garcia and will not allow them to use the island's airstrip. The cost of building an airstrip on one of the other islands would likely cost more than $100 million. Without access to an airfield, it will be difficult, if not impossible, for the islanders to resettle any of the islands. [[,3604,410578,00.html | Guardian, 12/13/2000 ]] ====== ((+ Chagossians )) October 2001-(Early 2002) diego_garcia_1909 false 1 ------ US B-52 bombers use the military base at the island of Diego Garcia to launch attacks against the Taliban in Afghanistan. [[ | BBC, 10/31/2002 ]] ====== December 20, 2001 diego_garcia_1912 false 1 ------ Chagossians file a class action suit against the US government suing for reparations and the right to return to their homes on the Chagos Islands. They were evicted from the islands in the early 1970s (see [[ diego_garcia_1900 ]]) so the US could build a military base on the island of Diego Garcia. The suit accuses the US government, as well as numerous past and present officials, with trespass, intentional infliction of emotional distress, forced relocation, racial discrimination, torture, and genocide. The Chagossians are not asking the US government to abandon the island and say they are willing to work on the base. [[ | Foreign Policy in Focus, 1/28/2002 ]] [[ | The Washington Post, 12/21/2001 ]] ====== ((+ Chagossians )) August 2002 diego_garcia_1910 false 1 ------ Former residents of the island of Diego Garcia request permission from the Bush administration to visit their former homeland. They were forcibly relocated from their homes between 1971 and 1973 (see [[ diego_garcia_1900 ]]) to make way for a US base. In response, the Bush administration says in a letter: &#8220;Because of the vital role the facility plays in the global war on terrorism, British authorities have denied permission to visit Diego Garcia. We concur and support the decision.&#8221; [[ | CNN, 6/18/2003 ]] ====== ((+ Chagossians )) ((+ Bush administration )) November 2002 diego_garcia_1911 false 1 ------ The US sends a formal request to Britain for permission to launch &#8220;offensive actions&#8221; from Diego Garcia against Iraq. Although the US already has a military base on the island, it can only be used for defense and training, unless Britain grants the US special permission. America wants its B-2 stealth bombers to run sorties from the island. [[,12239,846560,00.html | Observer, 11/24/2002 ]] ====== June 18, 2003 diego_garcia_1913 false 1 ------ Commenting on the US military base at Diego Garcia, former US Secretary of Defense James Schlesinger tells CNN: &#8220;It is critical to American security and has steadily grown more critical. Indeed, it is one of the wisest investment of government funds that we have seen over the last three or four decades. ... It's always preferable not to have inhabitants around. It reduces any risk of intelligence operations against the base and the possibility of sabotage.&#8221; [[ | CNN, 6/18/2003 ]] ====== ((+ James R. Schlesinger )) October 9, 2003 diego_garcia_1914 false 1 ------ The British High Court rules that the former inhabitants of the Chagos Islands have no grounds for bringing a claim against the British government and no realistic prospect of succeeding, even though a ruling in 2000 (see [[ diego_garcia_1907 ]]) had determined that Britain's mass eviction of the islanders in the early 1970s (see [[ diego_garcia_1900 ]]) had been illegal. In his 750-page ruling, Justice Ouseley complains that the plaintiffs did not provide reliable evidence that individual Chagossians had been &#8220;treated shamefully by successive UK governments.&#8221; He did however acknowledge that the mass eviction was not just and that compensation received so far by the Chagossians was inadequate. &#8220;Many were given nothing for years but a callous separation from their homes, belongings and way of life and a terrible journey to privation and hardship,&#8221; he says. During the trial, the attorney general and British Indian Ocean Territory Commissioner claimed that the islanders had not opposed being removed from their homes and shipped to a foreign land with little or no assistance. They also denied allegations that the mass eviction had been implemented dishonestly or in bad faith. (( British Royal Court, Case No: HQ02X01287, 10/3/2003 )) [[ | BBC, 10/9/2003 ]] ====== ((+ Chagossians )) June 2004 diego_garcia_1915 false 1 ------ The British government issues an Order in Council, reneging on an earlier promise <ref key="1997"/> to the former residents of the Chagos Islands that they would be permitted to return to their homes. The royal decree prohibits any of the islanders from returning to any of the islands. The Chagossians had been forcibly removed from their homes in the early 1970s (see [[ diego_garcia_1900 ]]) so the US could build a base on Diego Garcia. The government claims that according to a feasibility study, which did not consult the former residents, the costs of resettlement would be prohibitively high, with an initial cost of about &#163;5 million and annual costs of between &#163;3 and &#163;5 million. The study also claims that the islands are &#8220;sinking.&#8221; British Foreign Office minister Bill Rammell tells John Pilger: &#8220;The tax-payer is being asked to pick up the financial tab. You have to make choices about how you spend money.&#8221; [[ | Church Times, 1/7/2005 ]] [[;ItemID=6470 | Pilger, 10/22/2004 ]] ====== ((+ Chagossians )) ((+ Bill Rammell ))