Saturday 16 January 2010

Footprint of freedom

A few years ago I got in touch with a representative of the UK Chagos campaign. It earned me the qualification of being the Dutch Solidarity Campaign, which only made me feel embarrassed and inadequate - this is very much an uphill struggle, a sisyphean labour.

Then I was invited by International Prison Watch to participate and focus on Chagos, this being the unknown Guantánamo of the USA on - officially - British soil. And so there it is: campaigning means blogging, these days, does not it?

The main introduction, Chagos in a nutshell
The Chagos Islands - an archipelago in the Indian Ocean, halfway Africa and Indonesia. Colonised by French plantation operators, populated by slaves taken from other French island colonies in the Indian Ocean. In 1804 conquered by the British who abolished slavery. Plantations and workers however stayed.

And then the government of the United States of America decided that the archipelago was of high strategic value and wanted to have the natural harbour of the main island, Diego Garcia, as a navy base - condition was that there should be no human beings snooping around.

The islands were detached from the original main island colony, Mauritius, were not given independence and the British government decreed that the population of slave descendants was really an itinerant worker community.Plantations were nationalised and immediately closed down. The islanders were deported, the US navy and air force moved in (1973).

In the so-called war on terror the islands are used as a prison and torture camp under the incredible code name of Footprint of Freedom.

Although the indigenous people won their court cases against their deportation they are still being denied the right of return. Nowadays, the risk of climate change is the main story why the islands should not be populated.
A continuing sad story.

You are invited to gather news and send it to the site.