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DON’T BELIEVE AGENDA 21 is BAD for LIBERTY? ASK a CHAGOS ISLANDER – if you can FIND ONE!

The pro-sustainability people always try to minimize their efforts as unimportant – they won’t take orders from the UN, they do not intend to harm people’s property rights, they are just a voluntary effort to make the world a better place for future generations.  ICLEI is just a harmless little tumbleweed organization that just helps communities do what is right.  It’s all a plot by the evil John Birch Society and bloggers/activists in the pay of big oil.  (For the record, not one dime, silver or otherwise, has been paid to THIS blogger from any oil company!)

But check out this story about how environmentalism has been used to deprive people of their inalienable right to return home to a chain of islands they were forcibly and arguable illegally evicted from in the 1960s:  The Chagos Islands in the Indian Ocean.  They are part of the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT); most of us know a bit about the largest island:  Diego Garcia.

The Chagos Islands are about 600 miles from Mauritius (which claims them as part of their nation, see this article here from the Mauritius ambassador to the US) and they were not given to Mauritius (which they were apparently a part of during their colonial days) but rather kept back for defense reasons.  But as this writer for the Telegraph (UK) reports, the UK and US decided to use the islands for defense purposes:

In the same year, a secret British-American conference was held in London. In the chilling words of official jargon, the islands “were closed” and, in an exchange of letters never shown to either Parliament or the US Congress, a defence agreement was signed leasing the Chagos Islands to the US for 50 years with the option of an extra 20-year extension. The deal was struck on the understanding that the entire island chain was “fully sanitised” and “cleansed” of life. In exchange, Britain would receive an $11million subsidy on the US’s Polaris submarine nuclear deterrent.

And the UK did indeed remove the islanders and in a scene chillingly similar to one of history’s darkest hours, gassed the pet dogs:

In the summer of 1971, a group of Whitehall officials arrived with an eviction order and informed the inhabitants that they were now illegal squatters. The islanders were duly deported to Mauritius and the Seychelles, families split between islands in the hasty removal. In Mauritius, they were sent to a derelict housing estate where they made shelters for themselves in the stables and pigsties. It was worse still in the Seychelles, where they were housed in the prison.

This was a living nightmare for the Chagossians – but it was only the beginning. Soon they learned they would never be going home again, and that their British citizenship had been revoked. They were offered a mere £325 per person as compensation for losing their homes, their livelihoods, their history.

Before the islands could be handed over to the Americans, the British Army had one final task. They rounded up the 800 pet dogs that had been left and gassed them. “I first made the building secure, then introduced into it pipes attached to the exhaust pipes of US vehicles,” reported Mr Moulinie, the former UK-appointed official ordered to complete the “cleansing”. The islanders had been removed, their dogs gassed: the transformation could begin.

But the islanders appealed to a British court and they won!

There was a glimmer of hope in 2000, when the Chagossians went to the High Court and won the right to go home. The government, advised by the then Foreign Secretary Robin Cook, also ruled that the Chagos people could have their British passports returned. The islanders, now numbering a mere 450, celebrated their victory and flew to the UK, settling in Crawley, the nearest town to Gatwick, where they awaited their return to the islands.

But the United Kingdom refused to all the return and cited of all things, the impending formation of a environmental preserve over the entire island chain:

It seems a simple wish, but one which, in a new twist, has now been thwarted by the powerful environmental lobby. Last year, the islands were declared a marine sanctuary in which no people would be allowed to live, news that was greeted with delight by environmentalists but was condemned by human rights groups. Mauritius was furious with the decision. In 1965, Britain had promised that the Chagos Islands would be given to them when they were no longer needed for defence purposes.

“This has nothing to do with the environment,” says the Mauritian High Commissioner to London. “They want to prevent islanders from going back and keep these islands for ever. But we are not going to let this go.”

Even secrets revealed by Wikileaks put a lie to any claims that this was benevolent environmental stewardship:

Their concerns have been confirmed by Wikileak revelations released in December that have cast doubts on the environmental debate. According to the leaks, the Foreign Office had no regrets over the illegal action to expel them from the islands, and had been planning for some time to destroy their campaign to return home. Colin Roberts, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office director, told the US political councillor that there would be no “Man Fridays” on the uninhabited islands.

In chilling language, the UK government was going to defy the court, permanently deprive the islanders of any rights without worries since the environmental movement has more power than a few islanders:

In a section of the document headed “Je Ne Regrette Rien”, Mr Roberts said: “We do not regret the removal of the population.” And he told the meeting that establishing a marine park would “in effect put paid to resettlement claims of the archipelago’s former residents”. When it was pointed out to him by the US officials that the Chagos people continue to demand a return to their homeland, he replied that the UK’s “environmental lobby is far more powerful than the Chagossians’ advocates”.

There are other sources supporting the position that environmental concerns trumped human rights and the right to property.  This report from the Guardian (UK):

The foreign secretary’s announcement (UK sets up marine reserve in controversial area, 2 April) of the establishment of a marine protected area (MPA) around the Chagos archipelago (British Indian Ocean Territory) following the recently completed consultation is welcome news in principle. The area’s conservation value is undisputed. However, as John Vidal’s article (Good news for the warty sea slug is devastating for Chagos islanders, 30 March) indicates, there are important associated controversies regarding the displaced Chagossians’ right of return and Mauritian sovereignty claims. The FCO’s unilateral action over the MPA is exacerbating these tensions and unnecessarily undermining what should have been near universal support.

The Mauritian foreign minister is reportedly furious, having repeatedly requested a bilateral approach to the MPA process. Many Chagossians are similarly angered that the “no-take” commercial fishing zone may damage their future livelihood prospects. Their right of return – at least to the outer islands – could easily also have been granted magnanimously as part of the deal, thereby resolving what even the British government admits to have been a shameful historical injustice.

Here is another article from the Guardian:

The original Chagossians, who were deported between 1967 and 1973 to make way for a giant US nuclear air force base on the largest island, Diego Garcia, say they would in effect be barred from ever returning because the marine protection zone would stop them fishing, their main livelihood. “There would be a natural injustice. The fish would have more rights than us,” said Roch Evenor, secretary of the UK Chagos Support Association, who left the island when he was four.

Nothing new here:  Fish have more rights in the USA than people as the farmers in California found out to their sorrow:

IN 2007 Oliver Wanger, a federal judge in California, ordered the huge pumping stations of the Sacramento Delta, the largest estuary on the west coast of the Americas, to reduce by a third the water they delivered to two aqueducts that run south to the farms of the San Joaquin Valley and onward to the vast conurbations of southern California. His reason was the delta smelt, a translucent fish less than eight centimetres (three inches) long that lives only in the delta and is considered endangered under federal law. The pumping plants were sucking in the fish and grinding them up. The next year, a “biological opinion” by the federal Fish and Wildlife Service reinforced Judge Wanger’s order.

Here’s an MSM video from this March!  More of the same.  Do the environmentalists care?  Nope!  Check out this position paper from the Pew Environment Group about the Chagos Islanders right of return:

We believe the Chagos Islands and their surrounding waters should be protected for the resources and values they have today “without prejudice” to the outcome of the legal process. This archipelago is biologically critical to the fish and other marine life of the Indian Ocean, upon which millions of people rely. The protections afforded by the Chagos Marine Reserve will help to ensure that the waters of the region and the resources they contain remain healthy no matter what the future holds.

Not a word about the islanders’ rights.  (In fairness, the Guardian article cited Pew as saying they would support limited rights for the islanders to return.)  Try this from Greenpeace:

In a letter on its website, Greenpeace said: “[We] acknowledge and support the Chagossians in their struggle, and hope that they are successful. But at the moment, the Chagos Islands are being administered by the UK government, and whatever way you look at it, taking steps to protect the marine life there is a good idea. If and when the Chagossians are repatriated, then the protection of the seas around the archipelago will need to be readdressed, and yes, that may well involve allowing fishing by the islanders.”

I am afraid that this is not an academic issue for the United Kingdom.  it involves us, too.  We are implicated in the displacement of the islanders.

Colin Roberts, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office director, told the US political councillor that there would be no “Man Fridays” on the uninhabited islands.

I am not sure what is the right thing to do.  We were fighting a cold war against communism at the time.  Sometimes you have to break a few eggs to fix an omelet.  We should look into this matter and do the right.  Mauritius has an agenda, too:  increasing it’s influence.  But my point is:  If you are concerned that the adherents of Agenda 21 would take your property rights away from you without any conscience, you’re right!  Ask an Chagos islander – if you can find one!

PS:  Here’s a website from islanders in UK and another pro-Chagos site for your review!  I cannot speak for their accuracy or necessarily condone their politics.

 

About Elwood Sanders

Elwood "Sandy" Sanders is a Hanover attorney who is an Appellate Procedure Consultant for Lantagne Legal Printing and has written ten scholarly legal articles. Sandy was also Virginia's first Appellate Defender and also helped bring curling in VA! (None of these titles imply any endorsement of Sanders’ views)

2 Responses to “DON’T BELIEVE AGENDA 21 is BAD for LIBERTY? ASK a CHAGOS ISLANDER – if you can FIND ONE!”

  1. Guest says:

    "But check out this story about how environmentalism has been used to deprive people of their inalienable right to return home to a chain of islands they were forcibly and arguable illegally evicted from in the 1960s: "

    Okay, so all of the land and property you fear giving up belongs to Native Americans by the same token as you've illustrated for the natives of the Chagos islands.

    What are you bitching about? It doesn't belong to you. It was forcibly taken. They were by any other means illegally evicted, and slaughtered, for their land. There have been many appeals by different reservations to get more of *their* land back.

    You Right wingers never see beyond your own wants. And property, my friend, is a want. You are not entitled to it, and it is not a right.

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