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Updated On: Tuesday, 20 August 2019

Did the UK steal the Chagos Islands? | The Stream

2019-05-14 | Did the UK steal the Chagos Islands? | The Stream

British Prime Minister Theresa May is defying a United Nation’s ruling that said Britain's occupation of the Chagos Islands is illegal and that it should hand over the Indian Ocean archipelago to Mauritius. May’s government calls the ruling an “advisory opinion” because it is a non-binding resolution.

During the 1960s, while decolonising Mauritius, Britain split the Chagos Islands off and held on to it. About 2,000 Chagosians were then deported from their homes on the island of Diego Garcia in the early 1970s so that the United States could build a military base. The islanders have never been allowed to return and the only people permitted on the island are military personnel and the Mauritian and Filipino workers who cook and clean for them.

The military facility is a linchpin of the US Defense Department’s strategy in the region. It is its largest installation outside of the US and has been used to launch military attacks in Somalia, Iraq and Syria.

Authorities in Mauritius have said that the US base can remain whether the island is under the political control of the United Kingdom or not. So what next? Britain has extended the US lease on the island until 2036, the islanders are lobbying to return and Mauritius wants the territory back. We explore with a panel of experts on this episode of The Stream.

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