Speed Reads

countering colonialism

U.S. and U.K. should pay reparations for 'crimes against humanity' in Chagos Islands, says Human Rights Watch report

Human Rights Watch has called on the U.S. and U.K. to pay reparations for "the forced displacement" and "ongoing abuses" of the people of the Chagos Islands, all of which amount to "crimes against humanity," HRW has claimed in a new report

Approximately 50 years ago, the U.S. and Britain forced a mass deportation of the Indigenous Chagossian people in order to establish a U.S. naval base in Diego Garcia, the largest of the inhabited islands. The Chagossian people have since been fighting to return, but have been refused as recently as 2016, with the British government citing "feasibility, defense and security interests, and cost to the British taxpayer" as reasons for its denial. The islands are part of the British Indian Ocean Territory, which still operates under colonial rule after separating from Mauritius, reports The Associated Press

"The U.K. has made clear its deep regret about the manner in which Chagossians were removed from BIOT [British Indian Ocean Territory] in the late 1960s and early 1970s," commented a spokesperson from the U.K.'s Foreign Office. "We remain committed to supporting Chagossians including through a significant support package and our new British citizenship route for Chagossians launched last November."

HRW's report also accuses the British government of "blatant racism" toward the Chagossian people, and claims "both the U.K. and the U.S. have refused to right the wrongs they have committed against the Chagossians for the last half-century." Further, the document recommends that both countries pay "full financial compensation for all the harms inflicted" on the Indigenous Chagossian people.

"The U.S. benefited and continues to benefit from the forced removal of the people of Chagos to build a U.S. military base on their land," remarked Tanya Greene, head of HRW's U.S. program. "They are due restitution, the right of return, compensation for their losses, and a guarantee of non-repetition."