Monday, December 13, 2010

Wikileaks Exposes Tiny Bit Of Evil: UK/USA Ethnic Cleansing

One common complaint re the wikileaks cables is that, for all the sound and fury, they haven't revealed much new information. I think that this claim has become more difficult to sustaing over the past couple of weeks. For example, have you ever heard of the Chagos Islands and their indigenous inhabitants, the Chagossians?

The Chagos Islands are a series of atolls that float peaceably enough in the middle of the Indian Ocean, part of the British Indian Ocean Territory. Back in the 1960s and '70s, the U.S. decided it needed a naval base in the area, on an island without a "population problem", so hey presto! the Brits made a deal with (ie took bribes from) the Yanks and deported several thousand mostly African Chagossians off to Mauritius, where they still live today as their legal attempts to arrange a return to their homeland gradually founder. Meanwhile, in April of this year, the U.K. government declared the islands a "marine environmental reserve ".

And here's where wikileaks comes in:

The establishment by Britain of the world's largest marine environmental reserve around the Chagos Islands in the Indian Ocean was just a pretext to prevent the return of the forcibly deported islanders.

And behind that cunning move was the determination of the British government to reaffirm its strategic commitments to the United States, which operates one of its largest overseas air, naval and Marines bases on Diego Garcia island in the Chagos chain.

And diplomatic messages from the U.S. embassy in London published by WikiLeaks last week show British officials calculated backing for the move by the environmental lobby would conclusively outweigh supporters of the rights of the Chagos islanders, known as Chagossians.

Well, that would frost your ass, wouldn't it? The UK and US enlist environmentalists in their efforts to keep the Islands ethnically cleansed, so the Americans can keep operating their naval base in the middle of a whole whack of endangered species, including giant tortoises.

The government of Marutius sure wasn't happy when they got there hands on that leaked cable:

Mauritius' Foreign Affairs Minister Arvin Boolell was quoted in local newspapers last week as saying the classified document confirmed his government's belief that the protected area was in fact a smoke-screen.

"We are going to formally convene the British High Commissioner next week ... to listen to his explanations," Boolell was quoted as saying.

For me, this one cable justifies the release of the lot, as it reveals a tiny instance of government sponsored evil that would otherwise go unseen. Maybe once it was the job of journalists to do this kind of thing, but since they abandoned that role long ago, someone has to step in and fill the void.

Oh, and there's that other cable about how the Vatican was "offended" when Ireland's government decided to investigate the propensity of Catholic priests to rape young boys. That one too was revealing.


Dol said...

As with the Uzbekistan cables, where we learn about the importance of a military transit route through that country to Afghanisation.

Generally, very useful for getting a sense of just how our governments weigh interests against principles when it comes to geopolitics and - especially it seems - military geography.

Scanner said...

I remember a detail of the cleansing from a couple of years ago. They (the Brits) killed all the Islanders pet dogs. Nice.