Remove the US base from Diego Garcia!

Submitted by martin on 27 April, 2008 - 3:57 Author: Lalit
No bases!

The single-issue campaign to “get the Chagossians of Diego Garcia back to their Islands” has reached the terrible impasse where it finds itself well-nigh colluding with the US military base on Diego Garcia, as well as openly colluding with continued British colonization of this part of Mauritius...

The struggle around Diego Garcia is now, for those bent on the single-issue campaign of “getting the Chagossians back”, finally reduced to how Chagossians can cohabit with the US military base. Or even how Chagossians can get priority for getting jobs on the military base. And at the same time many people begin to slide down the slippery slope of how to keep Chagos a British Colony...

We have come to the dead-end of the tactic of “concentrating on the purely humanitarian issue” of the displacement of the people of Diego Garcia. It was not for nothing that the people of Diego Garcia, part of Chagos Archipelago that is part of the Mauritian State, were cruelly displaced. Nor was it out of British cussedness - though that State has a fair share of that, too.

So, pretending that the only issue is “getting the Chagossians back” is bound to turn out erroneous. Merely struggling for the right-to-return, in isolation from other issues, is bound to be short-sighted. You cannot deny the existence of the issues that were and still are the very cause of the banishment. All you will “win” through this single-issue campaign is an undignified “assimilado” status for a few thousand people in the UK and maybe some money...

There is a combined issue for us today of (i) CLOSING THE BASE DOWN and (ii) STOPPING THE ILLEGAL OCCUPATION and RE-UNIFYING MAURITIUS and (iii) THE RIGHT OF RETURN and REPARATIONS FOR CHAGOSSIANS. These three issues cannot be treated as separate issues without risking profound defeat on all issues.

We cannot, without risking ridicule, ally ourselves blindly with people in favour of the military base, when we are against the base. Equally, we cannot ally ourselves with people in favour of military occupation, when we are against.

The British colony called “British Indian Ocean Territories” (BIOT) which was created to house the stolen islands is recognized in practice by no-one. It is an empty tactic for occupation, like Bantustans were or like Israeli colonies are. It is not a State. It was designed to steal land from Mauritius while granting Independence. And Diego Garcia had to be “depopulated” so that the UK would not have to testify regularly before the UN decolonization committee.

And the British got hold of this land NOT for nothing, but specifically SO THAT its ally the USA could set up its huge military base there. So, as the British withdrew from their Empire in the Indian Ocean, they sliced the colony up, and gave a part to their ally, the USA, for a military base from which it could better control its newer Empire...


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