UN & ICC silent over UK & US Extraordinary Renditions in Diego Garcia
Posted on September 5th, 2011

Shenali Waduge

Diego Garcia belongs to a cluster of islands in the Chagos Archipelago located in the Middle of the Indian Ocean & just 900miles fromSri Lanka. The UK Government forcefully expelled over 3000 natives from the islands in order to give theUSa 50year lease of the “unpopulated” islands to expire in 2016. Diego Garcia was to be used for defense purposes of both countries as signed in the British Indian Ocean Treaty of 1965. Today Diego Garcia serves as an extraordinary rendition point where some of the most inhuman tortures are taking place under the eyes of the UN & the ICC & World Human Rights bodies.

 Historical Background

 The island covers 6,720 acres in area with a maximum height of 22 feet and an average elevation of four feet above sea level. The shoreline is about 40 miles long and the island encloses a lagoon 6.5 miles wide and 13 miles long. Diego Garcia was discovered by the Portuguese in early 1600s.Franceclaimed islands ofMauritius,Seychelles& the Chagos Archipelago & settled slaves there.FrancecededMauritius,Seychelles& the Chagos islands to the British in 1814 following the Treaty ofParis& the inhabitants became British. Seychelles & Chagos islands were administered fromMauritius. In 1903Seychellesbecame a crown colony but Chagos remained underMauritiusadministration.UKgave independence toMauritiusin 1968 after signing the British Indian Ocean Treaty (BIOT) in 1965 keeping Chagos under British sovereignty. Following an “exchange of notes” by US & UK Diego Garcia was to be used for defense purposes by both nations).UKsoon issued the Immigration Ordinance in 1971 & expelled all inhabitants from Chagos toMauritiuspayingMauritius650,000 pounds as settlement. This was nothing short of forced expulsion of the inhabitants from their homes. Diego Garcia was thus leased to the US for USD14million & US set up a military facility with over 50 personnel & a runway to accommodate a C-141 aircraft was built & before the end of the year UK & US signed a formal agreement to establish a joint “limited communication facility”.

 UKstands guilty of not only depopulating the Chagos islands but also lying to its parliament & British citizens denying that British territory was being used to kidnap people from different countries & fly them aboard contracted planes to Diego Garcia where they were subject to inhuman interrogation & tortures forbidden under international human rights laws. Extraordinary rendition violates the following international laws (prohibition of torture, prohibition against transfer of an individual from one state to another where that individual faces risk of torture, aiding & abetting acts of torture) ;

  – Convention against Torture & Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading  Treatment or Punishment 1984 (CAT)

   – International Covenant on Civil & Political Rights 1966 (ICCPR)

   – Convention relating to the Status of Refugees 1951 (1951 Refugee  Convention) and its Protocol; and

   – Geneva Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War 1949 (Geneva III), Geneva Convention relative to the Protection   of Civilian Persons in Time of War 1949 (GenevaIV).

 European Parliament identified 1254 CIA flights that had entered European airspace since September 2001 to transport terror suspects to clandestine prisons. Known as “ghost flights” it is alleged that the CIA flew these private planes to 29 different countries. Blackwater is one such company described as the world’s “most secretive & powerful mercenary firm”

 Ethnic cleansing by UK

 Agreeing to lease Diego Garcia to theUSthe precondition was that there should be no people=85 what did the British do? They decided to totally evacuate these natives without any notification & depart with only what they could carry. Some natives who went to buy provisions fromMauritiuswere not even allowed to board the boat back to their homes! If forceful evacuation was not enough they were not even helped to resettle & lived like squatters in a foreign country (Mauritius) The British even exterminated all the pets & animals raised by these natives. That was how the British got rid of the natives from Diego Garcia before handing it to the Americans to turn into a torture chamber. It was only after declassified documents between the British& US Governments were unearthed that helped natives to take the British Government to courts & the High Court ruled that the eviction of the natives was illegal. The British Government eventually had to overrule the court order by introducing the “Orders in Council” by Blair in 2004 using the =91royal prerogative’ without recourse to parliament or the crown declaring no one should be settled. The islanders failed also to gain monetary compensation as the High Court inLondondismissed the case as “stale & time-barred”.

 The fight now is for compensation & the right to return. But against the world’s powerhouse that now occupies Diego Garcia that battle may be lost before it has started! Can anyone remotely imagine that theUSwould allow the natives of Diego Garcia to return to their home & close their torture chamber? Knowing the facts why has the UN & ICC kept quiet both US & UK are guilty of all the ideals that the UN speaks about ; racism, discrimination, resettlement, compensation, forced eviction, human rights violation=85

 The US may ask for bases but the important question is why would the British agree to give out islands belong to them & expel its own inhabitants? Can paying $3650,000 to the Mauritian government for the relief and resettlement of the islanders shake off the British Government’s obligation towards these people?  The Mauritius Government raised the issue of Diego Garcia’s sovereignty in 1980 at the UN General Assembly. Nonetheless, the people who Chagos islands are unlikely to ever find their way home.

 UK stands guilty of complicity in a shameful cover by its foreign secretary David Miliband who lied to the British parliament over illegal secret renditions as brought to light by Clive Stafford Smith of the human rights group ;Reprieve. After 6 years of lying to the public by officials in both nations in 2008 David Miliband finally came clean & announced “contrary to earlier explicit assurances that Diego Garcia has not been used for rendition flights recent US investigations have now revealed two occasions both in 2002, when this had in fact occurred”. TheUScontinues to deny the existence of the CIA torture prison ;

 Why is Diego Garcia so important to theUK& US?

 TheUShas over 1000 military bases ; 287 inGermany, 130 inJapan& Okinawa & 57 inItaly. While author Chalmers Johnson believes US has 6000 bases in 130 countries all acquired clandestinely or through nefarious means though Pentagon declares these are US “footprints”.

 That the Indian Ocean is being used for military purposes by theUSwas brought to the notice of the UN & despite a UN declaration calling for states to “eliminate from theIndian Oceanall bases, military installations, logistics supply facilities =85.conceived in the context of great power rivalry” nothing has been implemented. From the Carter Doctrine (US protection of oil supplies from Middle East) to the Nixon Doctrine (US involvement in foreign conflicts) to Ford Administration (expansion of US naval missions in Indian Ocean) to Reagan Administration (b-52 bombers operating during Iraq war & the Rapid Deployment Force which later became the US Central Command CENTCOM) =85Diego Garcia became an important strategic point.

 Diego Garcia is a British territory but “home” to 1700 USmilitary personnel & 1500 civil contractors but only about 50 troops are British. The facility was built by Halliburton. Concurrent travel of dependents is unauthorized.

Why is this 17square mile atoll so priceless to the US & UK? Is it to keep watch overRussia,China,India& all other “enemy” nations? Is it because theUSwanted to use it to refuel during the 1991 Gulf War (US used 100 long-range cruise missiles toIraqfrom Diego Garcia)? Or is it because Diego Garcia is the place that houses a top-secret CIA prison where terror

“suspects” are interrogated & tortured? Diego Garcia is just a mirror ofGuantanamoBay. Diego Garcia can handle a 6-ship carrier, with petroleum storage, runway upto 12,000 ft & additional apron space, antisubmarine warfare aircraft went ahead following the formal signing of the British Indian Ocean Territory Agreement in 1976 permitting theUSto upgrade Diego Garcia & replace the SISS ZULU facility inPakistan& military withdrawal fromPhilippines.

 Gross violations by both US & UK

 US congress & the British Parliament were both kept in the dark initially, including the USD14m undisclosed payment to UK, US Congress was made to believe it was just a communication facility in the Indian Ocean though it was always meant to be a base for reconnaissance planes. The islands are off limits to all non-military personnel & will have no UN inspectors or International Observers either, journalists are also banned! The type of military arsenal that been built up would make any country in the vicinity fear for the safety of its own citizens ;Sri Lankajust 900 miles from Diego Garcia is at such a risk. The natives were systematically removed to neighboring former colonies while the animals & pets raised by these people were rounded up & gassed. That the rights of these natives did not matter were clearly evident to the British & it beckons to question the racism factor & whether they would have done such an expulsion to white people? Is this not ethnic cleansing & why has the UN & UNHRC not done anything against the British Government?

 50 UK MPs founded by Andrew Tyrie set up the All Party Parliamentary Group on Extraordinary Rendition to find the truth about the allegation ofUK’s involvement. Simple conclusion was that even if legal arguments were equivocal, the moral case was unassailable & nothing could justifyUKor theUSto engage in torture (direct or indirect) The findings also opined that torturing people can never combat terrorism & would encourage terrorism & undermine the democratic values in society.

 Undoubtedly Diego Garcia is a quagmire of injustice using the “war on terror” as an excuse to illegally torture people. We know that the UKs announcement to carry out an inquiry is also a sham. Prime Minister Cameron agrees to only a limited disclosure of material which means no intelligence material will be provided to the inquiry panel or to the public & neither will intelligence officers be asked to give evidence. Whats worse was the appointment of Sir Peter Gibson to head the 3 panel inquiry. Sir Peter Gibson is the former head ofUKintelligence. How independent & meaningful will such an inquiry be?

 We do not even know the numbers that have died in any of these secret prisons=85who filled the death certificates, how they were buried & even if their families have been notified. With enough hard facts, documents & material before the international human rights bodies especially the UN & the heads that are meant to champion the rights of humans the most important question is what have they done, ever did & plan to do? These accusations did not come yesterday=85secret rendition programs have been taking place for years & the involvement of theUS,UKalongside many other nations are also available but no action has taken place. Contrast that withSri Lankano sooner it looked like the end to LTTE terror would end theUS,UK, world bodies including the UN came down uponSri Lanka’s Government not mincing their words about allowing the LTTE to prevail. Today, a British private channel has come out with a paid drama that they call the “killing fields” & based on this superficial documentary Sri Lanka is being threatened to be taken before international courts & embarrassed diplomatically by world leaders especially the US & UK who seem to forget their own guilt in Guantanamo Bay, Diego Garcia & who knows where else.

 This clearly shows that for goodwill & good governance to prevail the UN & all other associate international bodies must stop their alignment to western world powers because so long as their bias prevails these countries will continue to carry out secret torture programs on the excuse of combating terror the victims will end up hating these nations & breeding people hating these nations & resolving to carry out further terror which will end up with more & more people dying for no reason.

9 Responses to “UN & ICC silent over UK & US Extraordinary Renditions in Diego Garcia”

  1. Samson Says:

    Great article.

    I don’t think USA and UK will ever give up these small islands.

    They need platforms to bomb the middle east and that is continuing problem as long as middle east has oil.

    May be that’s why thye get too excited when China and India have anything in the region even commercial shipping ports.

  2. gdesilva Says:

    For those who are interested in this topic, there is a documentary DVD produced by John Pilger titled ‘Stealing of a Nation’ which confirms many of the facts given by Shenali here. It also discusses the current plight of these indigenous people who have been forcibly exiled by the so-called guardians of democracy and human rights, the UK, for the benefit of their loyal friends, the US, so that the latter has an unrestricted platform to launch attacks on other nations which do not comply with the so called ‘new world order’ as dictated by them

  3. Nalliah Thayabharan Says:

    USA was deeply concerned with the stability of the host nation of any potential base, and sought an unpopulated territory, to avoid United Nations’s decolonisation requirements and the resulting political issues of sovereignty or anti-US sentiment. The Chagossian right of occupation was violated by the UK Foreign Office as a result of the 1966 agreement between UK & US governments The forced removal of the Chagossian people was an act of ethnic cleansing. The frustration of more than four decades of of exile for the Chagos islanders exacerbated by the refusal of successive UK governments to find a just solution kept breaking though. How can it be that a military settlement is lawful when the rightful inhabitants are not allowed to settle there? US & UK military squatters have taken over the rightful habitation of the islands. Each revelation about the UK’s dealings with Diego Garcia is more disgraceful than the previous, and still the cover-up continues.

  4. Nalliah Thayabharan Says:

    Presently about 50 British and 1,500 U.S. military personnel, and 3,000 support workers of various nationalities – primarily Sinhalese and Filipinos – reside at Diego Garcia. A number of al-Qaeda suspects are held and interrogated on the island, including the leader of Jemaah Islamiyah – Riduan Isamuddin (Hambali), responsible for the 2002 terrorist bombing in Bali.
    Most of the roughly 1,500 displaced Chagossians were agricultural workers and fisherman. Uprooted and robbed of their livelihood, the Chagossians now live in poverty in Mauritius’s urban slums, more than 1,500km from their homeland. A smaller number were deported to the Seychelles. About 800 islanders forced off Diego Garcia are alive today, and another 5,000 Chagossians have been born in exile. As G deSilva mentioned , a 2003 60 Minutes segment and a 2004 documentary by Australian journalist and filmmaker John Pilger, “Stealing a Nation”, have done much to publicize the little-known plight of the islanders.
    In May 2006, the British High Court in London ruled that the Chagossians may in fact return to other Chagossian islands, and offered a withering assessment of the British conduct in the case, calling it “outrageous, unlawful and a breach of accepted moral standards.”
    “The suggestion that a minister can, through an Order in Council, exile a whole population from a British Overseas Territory and claim he is doing so for the ‘peace, order and good government’ of the Territory is repugnant.”
    The Chagossians have accepted that they cannot return to Diego Garcia because of the U.S. airbase, but this new verdict paves the way for the islanders to move elsewhere in the Chagos archipelago, to the Salomon islands and Peros Banhos, which are more than 150km from Diego Garcia. USA is opposed to anyone other than military personnel and their employees living anywhere in the Chagos archipelago, asserting that security will be compromised. According to a US State Department official, Lincoln Bloomfield Jr., allowing civilians in the archipelago could potentially lead to “terrorists infiltrating the islands.”

  5. Nalliah Thayabharan Says:

    Visit
    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-3667764379758632511#
    to know more about this shocking incredible story of Chagossians.

  6. jayt Says:

    whatever, they did colonial time, they could not do same same thing after 50s, but all western countries adopted new system to get the land control creating huge wars with huge civilians death by supporting one group openly and other group secretly or both groups supported secretly. However, the new system had two goals, one is to get control of all big companies and second is to stop support to Palestinian. all these stories are told by a few honest western writers in a news paper or by publishing a book. Three example Here: Kuwait, Sri lanka and Libya. Kuwait was a big supporter of Palestinian. B West did not own all companies there before Saddam invaded. Saddam Hussein was told by US that Kuwait had no border and it was not an independent country. This is the trick west used to influence Saddam to invade Kuwait and waited to give Saddam enough time killed and rape Kuwaitis to provoke hatred towards Iraqis and large number of Palestinian refugees in Kuwait. After the war, Kuwait expelled
    Palestinian and West got all oil and other contracts. This was confirmed by many American writers.
    In Sri lanka, a few operation goal is achieved, but goal of stopping support to Palestine is not achieved.
    In Libya, over throwing of biggest and strongest Arab patriot toward Palestine is achieved. All oil cooperation surely will be owned by west, and support for Palestinian cause will be downgraded to lip service or non.

    q

  7. jayt Says:

    My wish is west should make peace honestly with other countries which is good for all peace loving world, but it won’t happen until other countries militarily form a global military front and ready to stand against their goals.

  8. jayt Says:

    In Syria, they heading for something but I do not know what will be the outcome. Egypt, I do not thing that west going to achieve anything . Egypt is rich, beautiful, peaceful ancient culture and the center of Arabic culture, almost same as that of Indian, Pakistani and Sri lanka cultures.

  9. AnuD Says:

    Even France had Islands in their control. Some where I heard they are getting rid of those natives and no one is reporting those things.

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