Diego GarciaPicture copyright
Science Picture Library

Picture caption

One of many Chagos Islands – Diego Garcia – is dwelling to a US army base

The UK has been known as an unlawful colonial occupier after it ignored a deadline to return management of an abroad territory to Mauritius.

A UN decision this yr gave the UK six months to relinquish management of the Chagos Islands – however that interval has now handed.

Mauritius says it was pressured to commerce the small archipelago within the Indian Ocean in 1965 for independence.

The UK says it doesn’t recognise Mauritius’ declare to sovereignty.

Britain’s Overseas and Commonwealth Workplace (FCO) insists it has each proper to carry onto the islands – one among which, Diego Garcia, is dwelling to a US army airbase.

“The UK has little question as to our sovereignty over the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT), which has been below steady British sovereignty since 1814,” it mentioned in a press release.

“Mauritius has by no means held sovereignty over the BIOT and the UK doesn’t recognise its declare.”

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The Chagos Archipelago was separated from Mauritius in 1965, when Mauritius was nonetheless a British colony. Britain bought it for £3m – creating the BIOT.

Mauritius claims it was pressured to offer it up in change for independence, which it gained in 1968.

In Could, the UN Common Meeting voted overwhelming in favour of the Chagos Islands being returned – with 116 states backing the transfer and solely six towards.

The UN mentioned that the decolonisation of Mauritius “was not performed in a fashion in step with the fitting to self-determination” and that due to this fact the “continued administration… constitutes a wrongful act”.

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The decision got here solely three months after the UN’s excessive courtroom suggested the UK ought to depart the islands “as quickly as doable”.

Because the six-month interval got here to a detailed, Mauritian Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth mentioned the UK was now an unlawful colonial occupier.

The deadline just isn’t binding, so no sanctions or fast punishment will comply with.

On the time of the UN decision, the FCO mentioned the UK didn’t recognise Mauritius’ declare to sovereignty, however would stand by an earlier dedication at hand over management of the islands to Mauritius once they have been not wanted for defence functions.

Between 1968 and 1974, Britain forcibly eliminated 1000’s of Chagossians from their homelands and despatched them greater than 1,000 miles away to Mauritius and the Seychelles, the place they confronted excessive poverty and discrimination.

Many moved to the UK within the hope of a greater life.

Britain then invited the US to construct a army base on Diego Garcia.

US planes have been despatched from the bottom to bomb Afghanistan and Iraq. The power was additionally reportedly used as a “black web site” by the CIA to interrogate terrorism suspects. In 2016, the lease for the bottom was prolonged till 2036.

The UK has repeatedly apologised for the pressured evictions, which Mr Jugnauth has mentioned have been akin to against the law towards humanity.

In 2002, the British Abroad Territories (BOTs) Act granted British citizenship to resettled Chagossians born between 1969 and 1982. However the 13-year window has left some households divided.

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