In an earlier post it was pointed out how, in 2004, an “order in council“ that was drafted by officials in the Foreign Office and endorsed by the then Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, prevented the Chagossians returning to the islands from which they were forcefully removed to make way for the American naval base at Diego Garcia. The injustice done to them is the subject of John Pilger’s documentary, ‘Stealing a Nation’.
The islanders went back to court in 2006 and three High Court judges ruled that the “order in council” was illegitimate, the government appealed and lost, appealed again and in 2008 the House of Lords decided that the islanders wishes could be ignored. Next step for the islanders, the European Court of Human Rights, and now we have Foreign Secretary David Miiband saying that commercial fishing will be halted around the Chagos Islands to allow scientific research and the preservation of coral reefs and an estimated 60 endangered species.Yes, Britain has just created the world’s largest marine reserve by banning fishing around the U.K.-owned archipelago in the Indian Ocean, with David at the same time ensuring all and sundry that “the creation of the reserve “is, of course, without prejudice to the outcome of the current, pending proceedings before the European Court of Human Rights”.
Oh, right and what are they supposed to eat once they get back to their islands? And David knows, of course, that fish would be the only means of sustenance for the islanders. Well, with his Ministry also insisting that the move would not affect operations on the island of Diego Garcia, which Britain leases to the U.S. military for use as a base, we can assume that, whatever the decision of the court in Strasbourg the islanders will not be going back to their homes or, should they go back, they might just find themselves living next to healthy, well fed, American GIs, while they, outside the pale, are left to starve. Still, David Miliband has a heart and the little fly on the wall has just told me that he is in the process of offering the Chagos Islanders a “fish at a risk” course with fisherman in Gaza to prepare them for any return should the European Court of Human Rights decide in their favour.
Joking aside, however, it is Craig Murray, who deserves a final word on this. He says; “The sheer cynicism of this effort by Miliband to dress up genocide as environmentalism is simply breathtaking. If we were really concerned about the environment of Diego Garcia we would not have built a massive airbase and harbour on a fragile coral atoll and filled it with nuclear weapons.” Of course, no need to shudder at the thought that this disgusting little man might one day become the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, he is, after all, an “only par for the course” cynical, little hypocrite, in the “much of a muchness” political world of Westminster.