‘Crime against humanity’: forcibly exiled Chagos islanders must get full reparations by UK, US — HRW
The United Kingdom and United States committed crimes against humanity when they forced the people of the Chagos Islands in the Indian Ocean to leave their homes five decades ago to make way for a US Navy base, Human Rights Watch (HRW) charged Wednesday (15 February), and called on the two governments to let the Chagossians return.
The NGO also demanded trial for these ‘appalling colonial crime’ of expulsion and continuing ill treatment of Chagossians that would force the UK to pay full and unconditional reparations to generations affected by its forcible displacement of Chagos Islands inhabitants in the 1960s and 70s. More specifically, HRW said that individuals should be put on trial for the expulsion of Chagossians when the UK retained possession of what it refers to as British Indian Ocean Territory, or BIOT, after Mauritius gained independence in 1968. Forced deportations were carried out so that the largest island, Diego Garcia, could be leased to the US to use as an airbase. Additionally, the NGO charges the UK committed two more crimes against humanity by blocking the return of the Chagossians – despite UN’s highest court ruling that the continuing British occupation was illegal – and through racial persecution of the people.
“The UK is today committing an appalling colonial crime, treating all Chagossians as a people without rights,” Clive Baldwin, senior legal adviser at HRW and lead author of the new 106-page report, said. “The UK and the US, who together expelled the Chagossians from their homes, should provide full reparations for the harm they have caused.” While the UK government recently opened negotiations with Mauritius over a handover of the islands, the HRW said London had neither committed to meaningful consultations with the Chagossian people nor, in the final settlement, committed to full and effective reparations, including the right of return. The Chagos Islands are the heart of the British Indian Ocean Territory, some 6,000 miles southeast of London and home to the US Navy base at Diego Garcia.