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Old 2008-04-20, 16:27   Link #1
Xellos-_^
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Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: R'lyeh
Age: 38
Depopulation of Diego Garcia - Crime against humanity?

Wikipedia Summary

Quote:
The Diego Garcia depopulation controversy pertains to the expulsion of the established inhabitants of the island of Diego Garcia, part of the British Indian Ocean Territory, during the 1960s and 1970s. The displaced inhabitants and their advocates have claimed that their right of occupation was violated by the British Foreign Office, accused of plotting the depopulation so that the island could be used as a U.S. military base.
The British government has generally denied any wrongdoing, and disputes the emigrants' right to be repatriated. However, England’s High Court of Justice has declared the Chagos people were victims of a crime against humanity and should be allowed to return home. This ruling has not been honoured.




Advocates of the Chagossians (see links below) claim that the number of Chagossian residents on Diego Garcia was deliberately under-counted in order to play down the scale of the proposed depopulation. Three years before the depopulation plan was concocted, the British Governor of Mauritius, Sir Robert Scott, is said to have estimated the permanent population of Diego Garcia at 1,700. In a BIOT report made in June 1968, the British Government estimated that only 354 Chagossians were third generation 'belongers' on the islands. This number subsequently fell in further reports.
Later that year, the British Government asked for help from the legal department of their own Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in creating a legal basis for depopulating the islands. The first paragraph of the FCO's reply read[citation needed]:
"The purpose of the Immigration Ordinance is to maintain the fiction that the inhabitants of the Chagos are not a permanent or semi-permanent population. The Ordinance would be published in the BIOT gazette which has only very limited circulation. Publicity will therefore be minimal." The Government is therefore accused of deciding to clear all the islanders by denying they ever belonged on Diego Garcia in the first place and then removing them. This was to be done by issuing an ordinance that the island be cleared of all non-inhabitants. The legal obligation to announce the decision was fulfilled by publishing the notice in a small-circulation gazette not generally read outside of FCO staff.
For many years, family groups of Chagossians had made trips to the Mauritian mainland on the periodic steamers that collected the copra from Diego Garcia. They would then get to spend the money they had earned in the townships, and experience something of modern life. When they had tired of this, they would simply get on the next steamer home - even though this might mean a wait on Mauritius of several months.
Starting in March 1969, Chagossians visiting Mauritius found that they were no longer allowed to get on the steamer home.[citation needed] They were told their contracts to work on Diego Garcia had expired. This left them homeless, jobless and without means of support. It also prevented word from reaching the rest of the Diego Garcia population. Relatives who travelled to Mauritius to investigate their missing family members also found themselves unable to return.

In March 1971, a BIOT civil servant travelled from Mauritius to tell the Chagossians that they were to leave. A memorandum related that:
"I told the inhabitants that we intended to close the island in July. A few of them asked whether they could receive some compensation for leaving 'their own country.' I kicked this into touch by saying that our intention was to cause as little disruption to their lives as possible." Some weeks later, the remaining Chagossians began packing their belongings and nailing shut their houses. They were shipped to Mauritius by the U.S. Navy as they became ready. On 15 October 1971, the few remaining Chagossians held a last Mass in the island's one church.
Later that day, the last of the Chagossians and their families were shipped out on the MV Nordvaer. They arrived at Mauritius and were left at Port Louis.



International law

The case has not been heard by any international court of law. No right of petition exists "in right of" the British Indian Ocean Territory to either the European Court of Human Rights or the UN Human Rights Committee.
According to Article 7(d) of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) which established the ICC, "deportation or forcible transfer of population" constitutes a crime against humanity if it is "committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack". The ICC is not retroactive: alleged crimes committed before 1 July 2002 cannot be judged by the ICC.[1]
The use of the Royal Perogative in 2004 as an undemocratic device to create a new exclusion of the islanders contrary to the judgment of the High Court has been found to be an "an unlawful abuse of power" on judicial review.[2]

[edit] Compensation

The British Government had allocated 650,000 'in full and final settlement of HMG's obligations' towards its dispossessed citizens - slightly less than 400 per head. This money went to the Mauritian Government to defray the costs of resettling the Chagossians. The Mauritian Government, however, did not recognise it had a duty to resettle the Chagossians.

[edit] Protests

The Chagossians had been left homeless in an island where unemployment already stood at 20 percent. Moreover, their trade was copra farming which was not translatable to the local economy as Mauritius's chief crop was sugar cane. The Chagossians also spoke a patois unique to Diego Garcia, meaning it would be difficult to integrate with Mauritians. It is claimed that within the first year, many Chagossians committed suicide and others turned to crime and prostitution in order to survive.



Recent developments

In 2000 the British High Court granted the islanders the right to return to the Archipelago.[3] In 2002 the islanders and their descendants, now numbering 4,500, returned to court claiming compensation, after what they said were two years of delays by the British Foreign Office. [4]
However, on 10 June 2004 the British government made two Orders-in-Council forever banning the islanders from returning home [4], reversing the 2000 court decision. Some of the Chagossians are making return plans to turn Diego Garcia into a sugarcane and fishing enterprise as soon as the defence agreement expires (some see this as early as 2016). A few dozen other Chagossians are still fighting to be housed in the UK.[5]
On 11 May 2006 the British High Court ruled that the 2004 Orders-in-Council were unlawful, and consequently that the Chagossians were entitled to return to the Chagos Archipelago. [6] [7] It remains to be seen whether the British Government will appeal, and when or how the judgment might be implemented in practice. An action in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia against Robert McNamara, the former United States Secretary of Defence, was dismissed as a nonjusticiable political question. [8]
On 23 May 2007, the UK Government's appeal against the 2006 High Court ruling was dismissed[5], and they now plan to take the matter to the House of Lords[6]
This came form offshoot of the Tibet discussion on another board. I never heard of the Diego Garcia before and can't even remember a mention of this in the news before. Just what the British perceptive is and how much play this is getting in Britan.
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Old 2008-04-20, 19:30   Link #2
Kamui4356
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I don't think the relocation was much of a crime. It wasn't so much a case an attack on a population as it was imminent domain on a large scale. The problem is when they relocated those people they refused to offer the support they would need to get established elsewhere. The former residents should have gotten a lot more compensation than 400 pounds each. Not to mention it should have been paid to them, not the government of the island they were moved to, who basicly took it and ran. The british government had a responsability to make sure those people weren't hung out like that and they completely failed to do so.
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Old 2008-04-21, 17:49   Link #3
Xellos-_^
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kamui4356 View Post
I don't think the relocation was much of a crime. It wasn't so much a case an attack on a population as it was imminent domain on a large scale. The problem is when they relocated those people they refused to offer the support they would need to get established elsewhere. The former residents should have gotten a lot more compensation than 400 pounds each. Not to mention it should have been paid to them, not the government of the island they were moved to, who basicly took it and ran. The british government had a responsability to make sure those people weren't hung out like that and they completely failed to do so.
This came form a different article


Quote:
http://www.antiwar.com/orig/pilger.php?articleid=3702

During the 1960s, in high secrecy, the Labor government of Harold Wilson conspired with two American administrations to "sweep" and "sanitize" the islands: the words used in American documents. Files found in the National Archives in Washington and the Public Record Office in London provide an astonishing narrative of official lying all too familiar to those who have chronicled the lies over Iraq.
To get rid of the population, the Foreign Office invented the fiction that the islanders were merely transient contract workers who could be "returned" to Mauritius, 1,000 miles away. In fact, many islanders traced their ancestry back five generations, as their cemeteries bore witness. The aim, wrote a Foreign Office official in January 1966, "is to convert all the existing residents ... into short-term, temporary residents."
If it was legal under imminent domain, why would the British need to establish justification of the island pop as transient to expel. And if imminent domain was use that would mean that the islanders were British citizens. So why were they left penniless and homeless in another country.



Quote:
At first, the islanders were tricked and intimidated into leaving; those who had gone to Mauritius for urgent medical treatment were prevented from returning. As the Americans began to arrive and build the base, Sir Bruce Greatbatch, the governor of the Seychelles, who had been put in charge of the "sanitizing," ordered all the pet dogs on Diego Garcia to be killed. Almost 1,000 pets were rounded up and gassed, using the exhaust fumes from American military vehicles. "They put the dogs in a furnace where the people worked," says Lizette Tallatte, now in her 60s," ... and when their dogs were taken away in front of them, our children screamed and cried."
The islanders took this as a warning; and the remaining population were loaded on to ships, allowed to take only one suitcase. They left behind their homes and furniture, and their lives. On one journey in rough seas, the copra company's horses occupied the deck, while women and children were forced to sleep on a cargo of bird fertilizer. Arriving in the Seychelles, they were marched up the hill to a prison where they were held until they were transported to Mauritius. There, they were dumped on the docks.


In the first months of their exile, as they fought to survive, suicides and child deaths were common. Lizette lost two children. "The doctor said he cannot treat sadness," she recalls. Rita Bancoult, now 79, lost two daughters and a son; she told me that when her husband was told the family could never return home, he suffered a stroke and died. Unemployment, drugs and prostitution, all of which had been alien to their society, ravaged them. Only after more than a decade did they receive any compensation from the British government: less than 3,000 each, which did not cover their debts.
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