One astonishing scandal released by Wikileaks involved kicking people off an island so that the US military can have a base there. The story is that a few islands in the Indian Ocean, which are considered British territory, got officially designated (by the British at request of the US) a “marine protected area.” The primary aim, shockingly, was to make it impossible for the native population of these islands to live there – it’s just an excuse to kick them out.
But actually, its even more complicated, because they were already forcibly expelled from their own island, Diego Garcia Island, and forced to relocate to Mauritius Island (off Madagascar), in Vietnam-era 1967, so that the US could build a naval base there. It was a strategically useful island; never mind that there are people who live there. It’s like the Indian Ocean’s trail of tears. Ever since then, the Chagossians, living in relative poverty, have been waging a legal battle with the British government for compensation and the right to return to their own homes. So far, they have been denied both. So then they went to the UK High Court and the European Human Rights Court put legal pressure on Britain.
So finally, it turns out that the decision to designate these islands as “marine protected areas” is in fact a proxy whose real aim to to make it impossible for the Chagossians to return. But apparently the US naval base can stay right where it is: protecting the interests of the free world, right? See wikipedia article here.
There is, of course, a lot of money involved. The US reportedly pays 2 billion a year to the British for it. And its location has made it a very useful US military base during MidEast wars.
The leaked cables:
“Establishing a marine reserve might, indeed be the most effective long-term way to prevent any of the Chagos Islands’ former inhabitants or their descendents from resettling in the BIOT.”
According to Wikipedia:
The cable relays exchanges between US Political Counselor Richard Mills and British Director of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Colin Roberts, in which Roberts “asserted that establishing a marine park would, in effect, put paid to resettlement claims of the archipelago’s former residents.” Richard Mills concludes:
The largest island in the archipelago, Diego Garcia, is the site of an extensive US military base. Pilger reveals that the island is home to 2,000 troops, 30 warships, 2 nuclear cleared berths, 2 bomber runways and a satellite spy station. The US describes the base as an “indispensable platform for policing the world” and it played a central role in the assault on Afghanistan and the wars against Iraq in 1991 and 2003. He does not mention, however, worrying reports that the island is also the site of a secretive Guantanamo Bay-style detention facility.