News, Notes, and Dispatches From Wherever Coconuts Grow

July 29, 2003

Chagos Islanders Want to Go Home

There's an interesting story in the July 27th issue of The Observer about the plight of the original inhabitants of the island of Diego Garcia who were kicked off the island to enable US/UK to establish a base there.

From the article:

A Colonial Office official called Patrick Wright wrote in a note to the British mission at the UN: '...there will be no indigenous population except seagulls, who have not yet got a committee. Unfortunately along with the birds go some few Tarzans and Men Fridays, whose origins are obscure and who are hopefully being wished onto Mauritius.'

Those 'Tarzans and Men Fridays' had in fact been on the islands for several hundred years, working on the coconut plantations, speaking a Creole tongue derived from French and English, and hunting and fishing for food.

The effect of the uprooting of the islanders from their homes devastated many lives. Cherry said: 'My father eventually went mad before he died. He spent too much of his life in grief.'

Read the Full Story at The Observer.

Here's a related (and more in-depth) November 2000 story from BBC News: The Chagos Islands: A Sordid Tale.

UPDATE: 31 July 2003... Here's a page with a huge amount of details on the lawsuits, the demands of the Chagos Islanders, and the latest news, from Ted Morris, the guy who runs a likewise huge website on everything you ever wanted to know about Diego Garcia -- at least, from the American serviceman's perspective. Posted by brian at July 29, 2003 07:21 PM

Comments

I am a Chagossian living in the Seychelles. There is a 250 people strong group of indigenous Chagossians living in Seychelles. We were exiled from the Chagos at the same time the bulk were sent to Mauritius. I arrived in Seychelles in 1973.
We want to go back/re-build the Chagos islands. The islands have a lot of economic potentials. For now, we want to at least visit the place.

The fight have been going on for 30 years. Whatever happens after the court judgement, WE WILL NEVER GIVE UP.

Posted by: Pierre Prosper at August 29, 2003 11:05 PM

New websites on the Chagos islanders case:

www.chagossupport.uk.org
www.seychelles.sc/chagos_islanders

The Mauritian government has been claiming soverignty over the Cahgos islands for a long time. They are due to negotiate their sovereignty claim in 2010 with the British Government. Presently, their apparent strategy is to side with the Mauritian Chagossians (also Mauritian citizens), place Mauritian buisness on the Chagos islands and evenetually have stronger leverage for their negotiations.
Seychelles Chagossians will be excluded (Mauritian government's advantage) from the venture(Mauritian Chagossians are a much larger group, and have more international backing as far as policies on Chasgossians are concerned). Our strategy is to kill off the re-settlement monopoly by settling on one of the Chagos islands.

Pierre Prosper

Posted by: Pierre Prosper at December 31, 2003 02:51 AM