Tuesday, June 20, 2006

World Refugee Day II

The Museum of the Bourgeois is currently located on Diego Garcia, an atoll in the Indian Ocean.

As you will see below, the people of Diego Garcia became refugees thanks to the demands of American imperialism.

Following from WIKIPEDIA:

“Portuguese explorers discovered Diego Garcia in the early 1500s. The island's name is believed to have come from either the ship's captain or the navigator on that early voyage of discovery. The islands remained uninhabited until the 18th century when the French established copra plantations with the help of slave labor. Diego Garcia became a possession of the United Kingdom after the Napoleonic wars, and from 1814 to 1965 it was a dependency of Mauritius.

In 1965, the Chagos Islands, which include Diego Garcia, were detached from Mauritius to form part of the British Indian Ocean Territories (BIOT). In 1966, the crown bought the islands and plantations, which had been under private ownership and which had not been profitable with the introduction of new oils and lubricants. In 1971 the plantations were closed due to the agreement between the United Kingdom and the United States to make Diego Garcia available to the US as a military base. No payment was made as part of this arrangement, although it has been claimed that the United Kingdom received a $14 million discount on the acquisition of Polaris missiles from the United States. This agreement also forbade any other economic activity on the island.

Until 1973, Diego Garcia had a native population, known as the Ilois (or Chagossians), which was composed of the descendants of East Indian workers and African slaves who had been brought to the island in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries to work on the coconut and copra plantations. The islanders were transferred [Your author’s note: term for kidnapped at gunpoint] off Diego Garcia to Seychelles and then Mauritius amid allegations of starvation and intimidation tactics by the US and UK governments, including the alleged killing of island dogs by American soliders. Ever since their expulsion, the Ilois have continually asserted their right to return to Diego Garcia. In April 2006, 102 Chagossians were allowed to visit Diego Garcia for a week, to tend to graves and visit their birthplaces.

Now, Diego Garcia is home to a military base jointly operated by the United States and the United Kingdom, although in practice it is largely run as a US base, with only a small number of British forces and Royal Overseas Police Officers (ROPOs).

The base serves as a naval refuelling and support station. It has an airbase that supports the largest of modern aircraft. B-52s and other bombers have been deployed from Diego Garcia on missions to Iraq during the 1990 Gulf War, and to Afghanistan in the 2001 U.S. Attack on Afghanistan. High-tech portable shelters to support the B-2 bomber were built on the island before the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The base is part of the U.S. Space Surveillanc Network, with a 3 telescope GEODSS station, and is a NASA Space Shuttle emergency landing site.

Neither the US nor the UK recognizes Diego Garcia as being subject to the African Nuclear Weapons Free Zone Treaty, even though the rest of the Chagos Archipelago is included, suggesting the US wishes to maintain the freedom to base nuclear weapons there.”

In the event of a USE/USSA war against Iran, Diego Garcia will be a staging point.


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