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CNN Program on Chagos Contains Gaping Holes


CNN on 15 June, 2018 (GMT 08:00 am approx) gave a report on the expulsion from Britain of Chagossian descendants, thus breaking up families living in Britain now. The report was by Erin McLauchlin.

 It is to CNN’s credit that this much-neglected issue has been addressed. The program draws attention, in the context of family separations by immigration laws in the US, to this second wave of family-separations that the Chagossians are suffering.

 In the report, one or two key, and quite newsworthy, elements are, however, missing.

 First, there is the question of the British Indian Ocean Territories. BIOT, referred to in passing as the home of the Chagossians, is in fact no more than a colonial grab that took place after the end of colonization. BIOT is recognized by the UK and USA and no-one else. Britain’s occupation of this immense part of Mauritius is in the spotlight now because it is on the International Court of Justice at the Hague’s list of cases for 3 September 2018, following a 94-15 vote at the UNGA to send it there – a resolution proposed by the African union for the final decolonization of Africa.

 Chagos was part of Mauritius from 1812, and Britain stole it at the time of Independence, tacked on three Seychelles’ Islands (later returned to Seychelles), and rented part of the concocted BIOT to the receiver of stolen goods, the US Armed Forces for its Diego Garcia military base. So, the Chagossians ended up being “sort-of British” because the Chagos islands were stolen in 1965 (before Mauritian Independence in 1968) and the people living there were forcibly removed when they had already become “British” by theft: they were stolen along with the islands, thus the title of the John Pilger film, Stealing a Nation.

 So, the base on Diego Garcia, one of the Chagos Islands, referred vaguely as “base” in the CNN report, is a big, fat United States base. The base is as notorious as the territory, the BIOT, itself, if not more so. It is a “dark spot” on the earth – beyond any democratic control. Not only was “rendering of illegal prisoners” and torture perpetrated there, but this was firmly denied by Governments of both the UK and USA until finally admitted to by both – only after incontrovertible proof came up. Diego Garcia is also where B-52s took off from to bombard Iraq in what is now generally known to have been an illegal war.

 So, any report, needs one or two words, in addition to your excellent covering of the pain for Chagossians of having been displaced yet again, in order to make it an honest report:

 “The BIOT, dismembered from Mauritius by Britain in 1965 – now before the ICJ” – instead of just the BIOT. It takes only a few seconds to add this vital element.

 “US base that B-52s took off from to bomb Afghanistan and Iraq, that was used for torture and rendering” – instead of just “the base” – this too would make the report sound truthful.

 Lindsey Collen