Public Comment

Diego Garcia

By Tejinder Uberoi
Friday April 11, 2014 - 10:29:00 AM

A recent ‘60 Minutes’ broadcast profiled an iconic coral island in the Middle of the Indian Ocean – Diego Garcia. It was inhabited for over two hundred years by indigenous islanders who eked out a living fishing and farming. According to broadcaster, Christiane Amanpour. the peace and tranquility of the people changed when the British were approached by the US government who wanted to establish a base on the island. Under US and British pressure the inhabitants were ordered off the island.  

Much like the Japanese internment during World War II, the islanders were allowed to take only a single suitcase for their belongings. They had to leave behind, all their other possessions. There were herded into small ships reminiscent of the US slave trade. The people of Diego Garcia say they left paradise and were transported to a living hell when they were dumped in the urban slums of Mauritius. Their farming and fishing skills left them bereft of any means of survival and many committed suicide, still others lived in a perpetual state of depression and despair. Before their final evacuation the British offered a stark choice – leave or perish. Their beloved dogs, who were extremely adept at catching fish, were gassed by the British and US. A few islands took their case to the British courts and won but were offered no apologizes, no reparations and were forbidden by the British and US governments from ever returning to their ancestral land.