Recent news that the people of Chagos islands are agitating for their right to return home cannot pass without being echoed. These Indian Ocean islands were invaded and occupied by colonial Britain and US for decades. How could such a despicable act be committed by countries that boast to be the citadels of civilization and human rights? Isn't this double standards, terrorism and hypocrisy?
Worse still, Britain has been agitating for the return of white farms in Zimbabwe whilst it sits on the whole sovereign country! Is it because the Chagosians are black and the farmers in Zimbabwe are white? Isn’t this naked racism to which the world turns a blind eye?
Britain claimed Chagos Islands on 27 April 1786. Nonetheless, the territory was ceded to the United Kingdom after Napoleon’s defeat in 1814. For swift exploitation, on 31 August 1903 Chagos archipelago was administratively separated from Seychelles and attached to Mauritius. Since 1976, the archipelago has been pestiferous with the British Indian Ocean Territory. But it’s also claimed by Mauritius and Seychelles.In 1960 and 1970, the United States and United Kingdom agreed on evicting all Chagosians to give room to a military airbase on Diego Garcia that would make America’s ambitions in the Far East and Middle East easier and possible.
This sacrilegious and heinous act catapulted massive forceful exiling of Chagosians. Since then, Chagosians' plight has been concealed from international community. Against all odds though, they’ve been fighting a legal uphill battle, which, in all circumstances, was foiled by British authorities even when their courts ruled otherwise.
Once again, this year the Chagosians went to the high court to seek leave to return to their country. Three judges led by the Master of the Rolls, Sir Anthony Clarke, refused a stay on the effect of their judgment, allowing the islanders to return immediately. This was a short- lived victory though. The judges condemned as "repugnant" Whitehall’s decision to "exile a whole population" in the 1960s and 1970s. The Government was denied permission to take the case to the House of Lords. It is expected to petition the law lords directly, seeking a final challenge at the highest court in the land.
This is a conspiracy by two respected nations to ruin and rob another nation. It’s illegal as well as immoral. Now, this being the truth, what can US and UK tell the world when it comes to human rights and civilization? We’ve been condemning Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe for taking white farms. Though two wrongs do not make a right, why should the same culprits demonise another thief who in essence committed a lesser offence compared to what they committed?
Even if this barbaric act has been committed by the so-called champions of civilization and human rights, isn't it still evil and barbarous? The presence of the UK and US in international organizations such as UN, Commonwealth, IMF, WB and many others, diminishes the importance of these organizations.
African countries have forged ties and solidarity bar Sudanese dictator Omar al Bashir from facing justice in The Hague. Will they equally stand for poor Chagosians that have become landless and stateless due to UK-US machinations and double standards? Will they stand for Zanzibar, a time bomb that will have devastating effects on mainland Tanzania if not soberly addressed?
It’s time the world of civilized and justice lovers to stand up and fight for poor Chagosians. Human rights activists and peace lovers the world over are invited to stand with/for the people of Chagos to see to it that we boot down this slavery perpetrated by the so called high and mighty of the world.Come on Queen and America! Lead by showing the way instead of backstabbing.
My heart goes down to Hadijatou Mani in Niger. She’s sold to Souleymane Naroua for $ 500 aged 12 and made to work for 10 years. This is what she said after being released: "At the time, I didn't know what to do but since I learned that slavery has been abolished I told myself that I will no longer be a slave." How many slaves does Africa still have in places like Chagos islands, Mali, Sudan, and Mauritania? What an amber alert for us to act!
Source: The African Executive Magazine Nov. 12, 2008.