US, UK Guilty of Crimes Against Humanity in Chagos Islands

The U.S. and the United Kingdom are guilty of crimes against humanity in the forced displacement of indigenous people from the Chagos Islands, Human Rights Watch said. 

Human Rights Watch published a scathing new 106-page report saying the two governments committed crimes against humanity by forcing people to leave their home island in order to build a U.S. military base. 

The rights watchdog said it had identified three crimes against humanity: a continuing colonial crime of forced displacement; the prevention of their return home by the UK; and their persecution by the UK on the grounds of race and ethnicity.

About 60 years ago, the United Kingdom government secretly planned, with the United States, to force an entire Indigenous people, the Chagossians, from their homes in the Chagos Archipelago. 

The Indian Ocean islands were part of Mauritius, then a British colony. 

The two governments agreed that a U.S. military base would be built on Diego Garcia, the largest of the inhabited Chagos islands, and the island’s inhabitants would be removed. 

The UK government split the Chagos Archipelago from Mauritius, creating a new colony in Africa, British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT). 

The UK did not want to report to the United Nations about its continued colonial rule. So the UK falsely declared that Chagos had no permanent population.

The reality was that a community had lived in Chagos for centuries.

But the UK and US governments treated them as people without rights, who they could permanently displace from their homeland without consultation or compensation to make way for a military base. 

The two countries should provide full reparations to the Chagossian people, including their right to return to live in their homeland in the Chagos Archipelago in the Indian Ocean, HRW said.

Human Rights Watch said that the UK’s “racial persecution, and continued blocking of their return home”, with Washington’s support, constituted an “ongoing colonial crime”.

“The forced displacement of the Chagossians and ongoing abuses amount to crimes against humanity committed by a colonial power against an Indigenous people,” the report says. 

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