One of the lingering scandals of Britain’s treatment of its overseas territories has taken a new twist. More than 40 years after the people of the Chagos Islands were forcibly removed to make way for an Ascension-style US air base, Britain is being asked to hand the Indian Ocean territory to Mauritius.
The Daily Telegraph reports that Navin Ramgoolam of Mauritius will use the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations as a chance to discuss the claim face-to-face with David Cameron. Mauritius would allow the Chagossians to return home.
The newspaper quotes former British high commissioner David Snoxell asking: “What better way to mark the Queen’s long reign, which has seen the transition of Empire to Commonwealth, than by bringing an end to this tragedy and relic of Empire in the Indian Ocean and allowing the Queen’s subjects to return to their beloved islands?”
The Telegraph also reports a more recent furore over the creation of a marine protection zone around the islands, similar to one established this year around South Georgia. The UK faces a legal challenge over the zone, amid allegations that it was created by the Labour government to make it impossible for the Chagossians to return home, because it would prevent them from making a living by fishing.
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