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The Chagossians are an ethnic group who were the indigenous inhabitants of the Chagos Islands, British Indian Ocean Territory
British Indian Ocean Territory
The British Indian Ocean Territory or Chagos Islands is an overseas territory of the United Kingdom situated in the Indian Ocean, halfway between Africa and Indonesia...

. The Chagossians resided in the islands of Diego Garcia
Diego Garcia
Diego Garcia is a tropical, footprint-shaped coral atoll located south of the equator in the central Indian Ocean at 7 degrees, 26 minutes south latitude. It is part of the British Indian Ocean Territory [BIOT] and is positioned at 72°23' east longitude....

, Peros Banhos
Peros Banhos
Peros Banhos, Pedro dos Banhos or Baixo de Pero dos Banhos in old maps, is a formerly inhabited atoll in the Chagos Archipelago of the British Indian Ocean Territory....

, and the Salomon
Salomon Islands
The Salomon Islands or Salomon Atoll is a small atoll of the Chagos Archipelago, British Indian Ocean Territory.-Description:It is located in the Northeast of the Chagos Archipelago, between Blenheim Reef and Peros Banhos...

 island chain, and had settled in other parts of the Chagos Archipelago
Chagos Archipelago
The Chagos Archipelago , is a group of seven atolls comprising more than 60 individual tropical islands in the Indian Ocean; situated some due south of the Maldives archipelago. This chain of islands are the southernmost archipelago of the Chagos-Laccadive Ridge a long submarine mountain range...

, like Egmont Islands
Egmont Islands
The Egmont Islands or Egmont Atoll, also known as Six Iles, is an uninhabited atoll under British rule. They are one of the few emerged coral atolls that make up the Chagos Archipelago, British Indian Ocean Territory....

 and Eagle Islands
Eagle Islands
Eagle Islands is a group of two islands in the Chagos Archipelago. They are located on the central-western rim of the Great Chagos Bank, which is the world's largest coral atoll structure.-Islands:...

. Most of the Chagossians now live in Mauritius
Mauritius
Mauritius , officially the Republic of Mauritius is an island nation off the southeast coast of the African continent in the southwest Indian Ocean, about east of Madagascar...

 and the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 after being deported from their homeland by the British government in the late 1960s and early 1970s. This mass deportation was carried out so that Diego Garcia, the island where most Chagossians lived, could serve as the location for a military base shared between the UK and the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. Today, there are no Chagossians that live on the island of Diego Garcia, as it is now the site of the military base Camp Justice.

The Chagossian people's ancestry is mostly of African
African diaspora
The African diaspora was the movement of Africans and their descendants to places throughout the world—predominantly to the Americas also to Europe, the Middle East and other places around the globe...

 heritage, particularly coming from Madagascar
Madagascar
The Republic of Madagascar is an island country located in the Indian Ocean off the southeastern coast of Africa...

, Mozambique
Mozambique
Mozambique, officially the Republic of Mozambique , is a country in southeastern Africa bordered by the Indian Ocean to the east, Tanzania to the north, Malawi and Zambia to the northwest, Zimbabwe to the west and Swaziland and South Africa to the southwest...

 and other African nations including Mauritius
Mauritius
Mauritius , officially the Republic of Mauritius is an island nation off the southeast coast of the African continent in the southwest Indian Ocean, about east of Madagascar...

. There is also a significant proportion of India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

n ancestry. The French brought some to the Chagos islands as slave
Slavery
Slavery is a system under which people are treated as property to be bought and sold, and are forced to work. Slaves can be held against their will from the time of their capture, purchase or birth, and deprived of the right to leave, to refuse to work, or to demand compensation...

s from Mauritius
Mauritius
Mauritius , officially the Republic of Mauritius is an island nation off the southeast coast of the African continent in the southwest Indian Ocean, about east of Madagascar...

 in 1786. Others arrived as fishermen, farmers, and coconut plantation workers during the 19th century.

The Chagossians speak Chagossian Creole
Chagossian Creole
Chagossian Creole is a French-based Creole spoken by the 3,000 or so Chagossians, the former inhabitants of the Chagos Archipelago. It is currently spoken mainly in Mauritius and the Seychelles. There is also a small minority community speaking the language in the United Kingdom....

, a mix of Indigenous language and French-based creole language and part of the Bourbonnais Creole
Bourbonnais Creole
Bourbonnais Creole is a family of French-based creole languages spoken in the western Indian Ocean. The close relation of the languages is a consequent of the similar historical and cultural backgrounds of the islands...

 family. Chagossian Creole is still spoken by some of their descendants in Mauritius
Mauritius
Mauritius , officially the Republic of Mauritius is an island nation off the southeast coast of the African continent in the southwest Indian Ocean, about east of Madagascar...

 and the Seychelles
Seychelles
Seychelles , officially the Republic of Seychelles , is an island country spanning an archipelago of 115 islands in the Indian Ocean, some east of mainland Africa, northeast of the island of Madagascar....

. Chagossian people living in the UK speak English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

.

The Archipelago later passed to the control of the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 and came to form part of the Colony of Mauritius.

Deportation from homeland



In 1965, as part of a deal to grant Mauritian independence, the Chagos Archipelago was split off from the Colony and came to form the British Indian Ocean Territory
British Indian Ocean Territory
The British Indian Ocean Territory or Chagos Islands is an overseas territory of the United Kingdom situated in the Indian Ocean, halfway between Africa and Indonesia...

. The territory's new constitution
Constitution
A constitution is a set of fundamental principles or established precedents according to which a state or other organization is governed. These rules together make up, i.e. constitute, what the entity is...

 was set out in a statutory instrument
Statutory Instrument
A Statutory Instrument is the principal form in which delegated or secondary legislation is made in Great Britain.Statutory Instruments are governed by the Statutory Instruments Act 1946. They replaced Statutory Rules and Orders, made under the Rules Publication Act 1893, in 1948.Most delegated...

 imposed unilaterally without any referendum or consultation with the Chagossians and it envisaged no democratic institutions. The constitution
Constitution
A constitution is a set of fundamental principles or established precedents according to which a state or other organization is governed. These rules together make up, i.e. constitute, what the entity is...

 prohibited anyone from residing in the islands without a permit.

In the following years from 1967 and 1973, the Chagossians, then numbering some 2,000 people, were expelled by the British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 government, first to the island of Peros Banhos
Peros Banhos
Peros Banhos, Pedro dos Banhos or Baixo de Pero dos Banhos in old maps, is a formerly inhabited atoll in the Chagos Archipelago of the British Indian Ocean Territory....

, 100 miles (160.9 km) away from their homeland, and then, in 1973, to Mauritius
Mauritius
Mauritius , officially the Republic of Mauritius is an island nation off the southeast coast of the African continent in the southwest Indian Ocean, about east of Madagascar...

 (For the relationship between the Chagos Archipelago and Mauritius, see Chagos Archipelago
Chagos Archipelago
The Chagos Archipelago , is a group of seven atolls comprising more than 60 individual tropical islands in the Indian Ocean; situated some due south of the Maldives archipelago. This chain of islands are the southernmost archipelago of the Chagos-Laccadive Ridge a long submarine mountain range...

). Their forced (and, according to some authorities, illegal) expulsion and dispossession was for the purpose of establishing a United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 air and naval base on Diego Garcia
Diego Garcia
Diego Garcia is a tropical, footprint-shaped coral atoll located south of the equator in the central Indian Ocean at 7 degrees, 26 minutes south latitude. It is part of the British Indian Ocean Territory [BIOT] and is positioned at 72°23' east longitude....

, where a small contingent of UK military personnel is stationed as well.

High Court case



In early April 2006, a group of around 100 Chagossians were permitted to visit the British Indian Ocean Territory
British Indian Ocean Territory
The British Indian Ocean Territory or Chagos Islands is an overseas territory of the United Kingdom situated in the Indian Ocean, halfway between Africa and Indonesia...

 for the first time in over 30 years in a trip. The trip was organised and financed by the British Foreign Office.

On May 11, 2006, the Chagossians won their case before the High Court, which ruled that they are entitled to return to the Chagos Archipelago. It remains to be seen whether when or how the judgement might be implemented in practice. The UK government launched an appeal at the Court of Appeal against the May 11 ruling in June 2006. The Foreign office has put forward an argument based on the treatment of the Japanese Canadians following the attacks on Pearl Harbor
Japanese Canadian internment
Japanese Canadian internment refers to confinement of Japanese Canadians in British Columbia during World War II. The internment began in December 1941, following the attack by carrier-borne forces of Imperial Japan on American naval and army facilities at Pearl Harbor...

.

Law Lords ruling


On October 22, 2008, the Law Lords reached a decision on the appeal made by the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, commonly referred to as the Foreign Secretary, is a senior member of Her Majesty's Government heading the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and regarded as one of the Great Offices of State...

 of the UK, David Miliband
David Miliband
David Wright Miliband is a British Labour Party politician who has been the Member of Parliament for South Shields since 2001, and was the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs from 2007 to 2010. He is the elder son of the late Marxist theorist Ralph Miliband...

. They found in favour of the Government in a 3-2 verdict, ending the legal process in the UK and dashing the islanders' hopes of return. The judgement was published on the UK parliament website.

Marine nature reserve and cable leak


In April 2010, the British Government established a marine nature reserve around the Chagos Islands known as the Chagos Protected Area. The designation proved controversial as the decision was announced during a period when the UK Parliament was in recess.

On December 1, 2010, a leaked US Embassy London diplomatic cable dating back to 2009 exposed British and US calculations in creating the marine nature reserve. The cable relays exchanges between US Political Counselor Richard Mills and British Director of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Colin Roberts, in which Roberts "asserted that establishing a marine park would, in effect, put paid to resettlement claims of the archipelago’s former residents." Richard Mills concludes:
The cable (reference ID "09LONDON1156" ) was classified as confidential and "no foreigners", and leaked as part of the Cablegate cache.

See also

  • Depopulation of Diego Garcia
    Depopulation of Diego Garcia
    The Diego Garcia depopulation controversy pertains to the expulsion of the indigenous inhabitants of the island of Diego Garcia and the other islands of the British Indian Ocean Territory by the United Kingdom, beginning in 1968 and concluding on 27 April 1973 with the evacuation of Peros Banhos...

  • Order in Council#United Kingdom
  • Right of Return
    Right of return
    The term right of return refers to a principle of international law, codified in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, giving any person the right to return to, and re-enter, his or her country of origin...


External links