decolonization / politiku

Diego Garcia and imperialism

What happened to the people of Diego Garcia was an epic crime. They were expelled, all of them, by Britain and the United States. The life you have just described, Charlesia’s life, was deliberately destroyed. Since their expulsion, beginning in the 1970s, the people of the Chagos have staged an indefatigable resistance. As you suggest, their story represents that of indigenous people all over the world. In Australia, the Indigenous people have been expelled from their communities and brutalized. In North America, there is a similar history. Indigenous people are deeply threatening to settler societies; for they represent another life, another way of living, another way of seeing; they may accept the surface of our way of life, often with tragic results, but their sense of themselves isn’t captive. If we “modernists” were as clever as we believe we are, we would learn from them. Instead, we prefer the specious comfort of our ignorance and prejudice. I’ve had much to do with the Indigenous people of Australia. I’ve made a number of films about them and their oppressors, and I admire their resilience and resistance. They have a lot in common with the people of Diego Garcia.

Certainly, the injustice and cruelty are similar: the people of the Chagos were tricked and intimidated into leaving their homeland. In order to terrify them into leaving, the British colonial authorities killed their beloved pet dogs. Then they loaded them on to an old freighter with a cargo of bird shit, and dumped them in the slums of Mauritius and the Seychelles. This horror is described in almost contemptuous detail in official documents. One of them, written by the Foreign Office lawyer, is titled, “Maintaining the Fiction.” In other words: how to spin a big lie. The British government lied to the United Nations that the people of the Chagos were “transient workers.” Once they were expelled, they were airbrushed; a Ministry of Defence document even claimed there had never been a population.
Source – great interview with John Pilger

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