Chagos Archipelago

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Place.png Chagos ArchipelagoRdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
Chagos map.PNG
Subpage(s)Chagos Archipelago/Depopulation

The Chagos Archipelago is in a remote but strategically very useful location in the Indian Ocean.


The islands were administered with Mauritius as part of the British Empire. When granted independence, the Mauritian was "frightened"[citation needed] into accepting continued UK control of the islands amid an indication that other wise it would not be given independence. The UK paid the self-governing colony of Mauritius £3m for the islands.[1]

Expulsion of inhabitants

Full article: Stub class article Chagos Archipelago/Depopulation
Denis Greenhill's 1966 cable

The islands were were cleared of inhabitants by the UK from 1965 onwards to prevent interruptions to military operations. The US established a military base.

US purposes

The US used the Chagos Islands for "extraordinary rendition".

UK Policy

A UK Foreign Office memo of 1980 recommended to then Foreign Secretary that “no journalists should be allowed to visit Diego Garcia” and that visits by MPs be kept to a minimum to keep out those “who deliberately stir up unwelcome questions”.[2]

Right to return

In 2000, UK foreign secretary Robin Cook resisted pressure from the US and promised the displaced citizens of the Chagos Islands the right to return to the Outer Chagos Islands.[3] His successor Jack Straw reneged on this promise.[4]

2019 ICJ ruling

The ICJ ruled that the UK should hand back the Chagos Islands to Mauritius "as rapidly as possible" and that continued UK occupation of the remote archipelago is illegal.[5] The General Assembly reaffirmed this decision by a vote of 116 in favour, to 6 against (Australia, Hungary, Israel, Maldives, UK and the US).[6] The UK ignored the ruling, prompting the prime minister of Mauritius, Pravind Jugnauth, to exploring the possibility of bringing charges of crimes against humanity against individual British officials to the ICC.[7]


Related Documents

TitleTypePublication dateAuthor(s)Description
Document:Depopulation of the Chagos Islands 1965-73book extract12 February 2007Mark Curtis
Document:Falklands and Chagos - A Tale of Two Islandsessay21 March 2012PeterThe UK official narrative of the Falklands War is that its primary objective was to free a plucky island people from subjugation by Argentina. This article compares their treatment with that of a similar sized settled, British-protected population, on a similarly remote island archepelago, a decade earlier.
Document:The World War on Democracyarticle19 January 2012John PilgerAn illustration of the true nature of 'Globalisation' by recounting the story of the Chagos Islanders and their Machiavellian abuse at the hands of the UK government.
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