The Chagossian Struggle
In the 1970s, the US Government created a military base on the Indian Ocean island Diego Garcia in the British-controlled Chagos Archipelago.
Prior to the base’s creation, the US government convinced and secretly paid the UK $14 million to forcibly remove the entire indigenous Chagossian people of Diego Garcia and the rest of the Chagos Archipelago.
The Chagossians were deported 1,200 miles away to the slums of the Indian Ocean islands of Mauritius and the Seychelles. During the deportations on Diego Garcia, British government agents and US Navy personnel gassed the Chagossians’ pet dogs to death and burned their carcasses.
Chagossians received no resettlement assistance and found themselves jobless and homeless in exile. A Washington Post reporter who in 1975 broke the story of their exile described Chagossians as living in “abject poverty.” Most have remained impoverished to this day. Backed by the US government, the UK government has barred the Chagossians from returning to their homeland.
Since their expulsion Chagossians have waged an epic struggle for justice, demanding the right to return home and proper compensation. Numbering 1,500–2,000 at the time of the expulsion and around 8,000 today, Chagossians have taken on two of the world’s most powerful governments and won historic victories in Parliament, in British courts, and at the International Court of Justice.
Still, they are not home.
Although the US government initiated, orchestrated, and paid for the expulsion, US government officials have completely ignored their responsibility for what Human Rights Watch has called “crimes against humanity.” Indeed, US officials have repeatedly covered up the instrumental US role in the exile. Congress only addressed the issue during a single hearing in 1975. Since that time Congress and successive presidential administrations have invested billions of dollars in the base on Diego Garcia.
People worldwide are rallying to support the Chagossians’ struggle. Please join them and us in demanding, “Let Us Return!”