Chagos island issue: Mauritius got its independence in 1968. However, even decades after its independence the British colonial ambitions and American “strategic interests” still override the country’s sovereignty.
The issue over the Chagos island has caused tensions between the UK and Mauritius since the latter gained independence. The issue has dragged on all these years due to the British government’s insistence on retaining the Chagos under its colonial hold. The former colonial power’s treatment of Mauritius in this regard exposes its neo-colonial designs and disrespect for international law. After all attempts at resolving the issue have failed, it looks like the UK and the US have resorted to a new tactic to continue their unlawful occupation of the Chagos island.
The issue of Chagos Island and defiant UK & US
Even after Mauritius gained independence, the UK continued to hold onto the Chagos island, refusing to leave despite widespread support for Mauritius’ claim of sovereignty. The archipelago is strategically extremely important for both UK and the US and they have gone to great lengths to prolong their control over it. In 1965, the UK separated the Chagos archipelago from Mauritius and signed an agreement with America to allow their military to use the archipelago for communications and defense-related purposes.
In 2019, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and the UN called on Britain to leave the Chagos Islands. The ICJ stated that Britain has an obligation to end its administration of the Chagos Archipelago and complete the process of decolonization of Mauritius.
Read More: International Court and the UN are not binding on the US and UK
In this context, Human Rights Watch recently published a report calling for the UK & US to pay reparations to the Chagossian people. Further, the group identified three “crimes against humanity”, including the continued forced displacement of Chagossian people, the prevention of their return to their homes, and their persecution on the grounds of race and ethnicity. They are therefore asking the US & UK to provide full reparation.
The idea of reparations for the Chagossians is a positive development, but it’s worth asking why it’s happening now, after so many years since their eviction. Is it simply a coincidence that Human Rights Watch has suddenly called for reparations from the UK and the US, or is there more to it?
It’s interesting to note that the Human Rights Watch group only became active when the UK started engaging in talks with Mauritius, promising to resolve the issue by this year. It’s possible that the former colonial power is still clinging to its colonial interests in Mauritius, and is now conspiring with Human Rights Watch to conveniently settle the matter by paying reparations for all the historical crimes it committed, rather than fully decolonizing the African country.
Read More: United Kingdom loses the Chagos Islands to a nation 119 times smaller than it
Thus, while the call for reparations is an important step towards acknowledging the harm done to the Chagossians, it’s crucial to continue questioning the motives behind the sudden push for reparations and to hold the UK and US accountable for their actions.
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