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.
These are the days when patriotism runs wild again about some foggy rocks near Antarctica, belonging to "this great nation" (the incedrible phrase used by the co-chairman of the Tory party on Question Time, Jan. 20th) and the right to self-determination of the inhabitants of these rocks is highlighted.
The days when the contrast to Diego Garcia and Chagos is yet a bit more poignant than usually. John Pilger happens to write about Chagos.
And in London there will be the theatre piece Some Man Fridays in February and March. Check it out if you can.