New book tells shameful story of Diego Garcia


27-June-2009

                         Yesterday’s book launch

The event was hosted by the Liaison Unit of Non-Governmental Organisations of Seychelles (Lungos) at its office in Victoria.
Island of Shame: the Secret History of the US Military Base on Diego Garcia was written by David Vine and presents the history of the Chagos archipelago, the first settlement in Chagos and how the Chagossians were eventually betrayed.

It is the first major book to reveal the truth of how the United States conspired with the British to remove the natives of Diego Garcia from their homeland in the late 1960s and early 1970s and deport them to Seychelles and Mauritius.

Mr Vine also describes the people’s dramatic, unfolding story in their struggle to survive in the countries they were sent to and their fight to regain possession of their land.

A copy of the book was presented to Jerry Morel, a member of the Chagos Social Committee, in the presence of its chairman Pierre Prosper and other members.

Also represented were the Good Governance Commission, the Constitutional Review Committee and the Centre for Rights and Development.

Those present raised concerns, asked questions and shared views during the short ceremony about the Chagossians and their struggles.

They heard that the Chagossians who were sent to Seychelles were left on the dock without any means of survival. Those who had relations in the country received help, while others were taken to live in the old prison at Union Vale.

Through the years, many of them continued to experience difficult conditions while being unsure of their legal status in the country.

Unlike those sent to Mauritius, the Seychelles Chagossians did not receive any compensation, and it is one of the Chagos committee’s priorities to find the reasons why they were not included in the payments.

Despite their difficulties, Chagossians in both countries have been active in pushing their case. They won three law suits in the British High Court but finally failed in the House of Lords, after an appeal by the British government, in October 2008.

Mr Vine, an assistant professor of anthropology at the American University in Washington DC, said he will soon write an article on the Chagossians living in Seychelles.

He thanked all those who had helped him with his work and those who are now helping the islanders.
He said he was originally asked by lawyers for the Chagossians to carry out research but then saw the opportunity to broaden the idea and help the people in their struggles by writing the book.

Island of Shame will be on sale soon at the Antigone bookshop in Victoria.

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