Mauritius Diego Garcia is an island with a shocking story. It is a British colony that lies between two continents, in the Indian Ocean, being one of the coral islands forming the Chagos Archipelago. A place full of peace and natural beauty, Mauritius Diego Garcia was discovered in 1500s by the Portuguese explorers who were the first people of the island.
The place has about 10.5 miles (6720 acres), it is the biggest island of the archipelago and the only island that has inhabitants. Mauritius Diego Garcia’s first settlement was in the 18th century. Almost 2000 people were living here, a Creole nation with copra plantation, church, hospital, railway, villages, docks, school and prison. In the missionaries’ films from the ‘60s, you can see why the island is seen as paradise.
The islanders’ dogs swim in the sheltered lagoon and catch fish. At the beginning of the 1700s, the French came with the claim that the chain belongs to them. Mauritius Diego Garcia was held by the French till the Napoleonic Wars when it came back to the British after the Napoleon’s fall, in the 1800s. In 1965 the BIOT (British Indian Ocean Territory) was formed and the island fell under the British government’s administrative control.
One year later, the UK and the USA signed the agreement that made the Mauritius Diego Garcia available to answer to the both nations’ defense requirements. But, the indigenous inhabitants were a problem for the government of the USA. The island was seen by the USA as a base, in 1959, to improve the USA’s monitoring capability on the Soviet activity but the native population represented a concern. Britain was asked by the US to find an island without inhabitants, in the Indian Ocean, to fit to their interests in monitoring the activity of the Soviet Union.
Since the US had an anxiety regarding the local people, the British begun to relocate the inhabitants of the islands in the ‘60s and ‘70s. The British saw the moving of the inhabitants a normal thing. They were moved at about 1.200 miles away, to the Seychelles and Mauritius islands.
In 2001, after a battle in the court, the indigenous was granted the repatriation right. Still, the United States lease on Mauritius Diego Garcia complicated the situation, the lease being available till 2016. The indigenous people may come back to the archipelago but not to Mauritius Diego Garcia Island, the only one that has an infrastructure.
In the summer of 2002, the people of the island asked President Bush to allow them to come back to the Mauritius Diego Garcia. The Bush administration said that is not their call but the Britain’s and claimed that the British can’t allow the permission to visit the island because of the very important role played by the facility in the world war against terrorism. So, the indigenous people are being kept away of their island under the reason of the battle against terrorism.