The Chagos Islands - an archipelago in the Indian Ocean, halfway Africa and Indonesia. Colonised by French plantation operators, populated by slaves taken from other French island colonies in the Indian Ocean. In 1804 conquered by the British who abolished slavery. Plantations and workers however stayed.
And then the government of the United States of America decided that the archipelago was of high strategic value and wanted to have the natural harbour of the main island, Diego Garcia, as a navy base - condition was that there should be no human beings snooping around.
The islands were detached from the original main island colony, Mauritius, were not given independence and the British government decreed that the population of slave descendants was really an itinerant worker community.Plantations were nationalised and immediately closed down. The islanders were deported, the US navy and air force moved in (1973).
In the so-called war on terror the islands are used as a prison and torture camp under the incredible code name of Footprint of Freedom.
Although the indigenous people won their court cases against their deportation they are still being denied the right of return. Nowadays, the risk of climate change is the main story why the islands should not be populated. A continuing sad story.
It was very crafty of David Miliband to instruct the commissioner of the British Indian Ocean Territory to declare a marine protected area in the Chagos archipelago on the afternoon of Maundy Thursday, 1 April. It wasn't quite a Jo Moore "it's now a very good day to get out anything we want to bury" moment, but it came fairly close.
It certainly wrong-footed a significant number of British MPs from all the major parties who had attended a debate on the Chagos islands in Westminster Hall on 10 March and were given the impression that the issue would be discussed in the Commons before any decision was made. The displeasure caused sparked emergency debates in both houses on 6 April, shortly before dissolution.
It is also revealing that the former foreign secretary's announcement was timed to catch out the authorities in Mauritius where, because the National Assembly had been dissolved in preparation for the general election on 5 May, there was no time for a parliamentary debate or statement. Further reading.