Former Ambassador, Human Rights Activist
I argued for Scottish Independence on the grounds that we should break away from the UK – a state which was continually complicit in illegal war, support of dictatorships, purveying arms for war crimes and torture.
I have friends of all kinds of political persuasions, but I do not know a single person who is prepared to defend the British government’s decision to continue the ethnic cleansing of the Chagos Islanders. Do you?
I have been campaigning on the subject on this blog for a dozen years, and the only hopeful sign has been an increase in public awareness from a very low base. There is no possible defence for deporting an entire island population to make way for a US military base on Diego Garcia. It ranks with the worse crimes of Empire, and let us not forget it happened in 1971, not in old history. Let us also not forget that both Labour and Tories supported this crime.
The decision is the more disgusting as it is taken under the “Royal Prerogative” after years of court battles. As I posted a couple of days ago, the government stated that returned islanders would not be allowed civilian use of the US military airport. They now state that without an airlink there could not be a viable population on the outlying islands.
Let me give you this quote from Sikunder Burnes p.376
Those who believe the British Empire was beneficent might consider this account by a junior officer:
“Their wells, by which they irrigated the land, were blown up with gunpowder and rendered useless. These people lived, in great measure, on dried mulberries, as the land would not produce enough corn for their consumption. There were beautiful mulberry trees around the forts. Every morning and evening two companies from each regiment were sent out to cut them down.
We found that by cutting rings through the bark into the heart of the trees, it was effectively destroyed as if it was cut down… and it was lighter work… we became quite adepts in the work of destruction, and a greater scene of devastation was perhaps never beheld.”
The deliberate starvation of the civilian population was an appalling crime. A rural economy dependent on tree crops could not survive the complete destruction of the trees, as there was nothing to live on until new trees grew. Some areas have never recovered from the deliberate devastation of the rural economy.
I have no doubt the majority of people in the UK would be horrified by the deportation of the Chagos Islanders. But the entire political and economic structure of the UK state is such that it is inevitably a satrap to United states Crimes, be it in Diego Garcia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya or elsewhere. The only remedy is for the United Kingdom and its worldwide imperial pretensions to be ended as a state. I express this view succinctly here:
I do hope that outrage at the Chagos decision will cause my friends in England to renew their determination to effect revolutionary change. Here in Scotland we must renew our determination to break up the UK at the earliest possible stage.
For the Chagos Islanders we send our love, and encouragement, and urge them not to give up hope. This must be the start of a new and more radical phase in the struggle. Perhaps it is time for a Chagos flotilla?
Signed First Editions of Sikunder Burnes are now available direct from this blog! You can leave a message naming the dedication you want. Sold at cover price of £25 including p&p for UK delivery or £29 for overseas delivery. Ideal Christmas presents!!
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