Friday, February 22, 2008

Saying the wrong sorry

South Shields MP and Foreign Secretary has said sorry. Not for failing to stop the USA's 'Extraordinary Rendition' flights (otherwise known as kidnapping) landing on UK soil. He apologised to MPs for previous statements which suggested UK territory was not being used in such a manner. But now he has admitted that the island of Deigo Garcia has been used for such activity. Then again, it's not the first time that Diego Garcia has been used for dodgy military actions.

Sadly Diego Garcia is no stranger to crimes against humanity and people forcibly removed from their homes. Diego Garcia is the main island of the group of islands known as the Chagos, from which the inhabitants were ejected by the British government in the 1960's and 70s under a dirty deal to provide the United States with a military base in the Indian Ocean. The people were dumped in the slums of Mauritius. After such brutalisation, many committed suicide, turned to addictions, prostitution or crime.

If these had been white Falkland Islanders, there would be outrage. Gordon Brown refuses to talk to Mugabe after the expulsion of white Zimbabwean farmers, yet Brown refuses to acknowledge the plight of the exiled Chagos islanders.

The High Court has repeatedly ruled the expulsion illegal. Blair's and then Brown's government ignored the rulings, hiding behind "royal prerogative" - essentially a decree by the Prime Minister in the name of the Queen. Only a couple of days ago the government forced an appeal into the Lords on the grounds of "problems for how we run the whole of our relationships with other overseas territories". Essentially they are saying the rule of Law should not apply to the government when it comes to abusing British citizens in overseas territories - human rights only apply when the government says so.

The exiled Chagossians have been ignored and blocked by successive Foreign Secretaries and governments. It is a stain on our national conscience, and blunts our international moral credibility. Miliband's apology has been misplaced. It's about time the British Government said sorry to the Chagossians and took them home.

1 comment:

Michael said...

I couldn't agree more. It's truly shameful.