The United Kingdom has a dark past with the erstwhile British Empire subjecting billions across the world to unimaginable atrocities. There is still a feeling in some parts of the UK that they are the rulers of the world, thanks to the erstwhile British Empire, completely oblivious of the fact that the UK is on the brink with its failed attempts of leaving the European Union.
The UK continues to occupy some territories which used to be British colonies and one such territory happens to be the Chagos Islands which the UK secured from Mauritius in return for the latter’s independence.
Earlier this year, the United Nations voted overwhelmingly in favour of Mauritius and directed the UK to return the control of the islands to Mauritius. Unsurprisingly, the UK has missed the deadline set by the UN and has shown no inkling to give up the control anytime soon. At such a time, the BBC has detested from criticising the UK government. It is important to note that the BBC displayed a biased story and even resorted to spreading fake news over India’s move to abrogate Article 370 from Kashmir.
The UK refuses to recognise Mauritius’ claim to sovereignty while Mauritius claims it was forced to trade the small archipelago in the Indian Ocean in 1965 for independence.
Britain’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) insists it has every right to hold onto the islands – one of which, Diego Garcia, is home to a US military airbase. Britain which purchased the archipelago for £3mn saw the UN General Assembly voted overwhelmingly in favour of the Chagos Islands being returned – with 116 states backing the move and only six against. The UN said that the decolonisation of Mauritius “was not conducted in a manner consistent with the right to self-determination” and that therefore the “continued administration… constitutes a wrongful act”.The UN resolution came only three months after the UN’s high court advised the UK should leave the islands “as rapidly as possible”.
The UK in its quest to create a military base for the US forcibly removed thousands of Chagossians between 1968 and 1974 by sending them to Mauritius and the Seychelles where they faced extreme poverty and discrimination. In 1966, a Foreign Office memo described the residents of the island, known as Chagossians, as “some few Tarzans and Man Fridays whose origins are obscure”. US planes have been sent from the base to bomb Afghanistan and Iraq. The facility was also reportedly used as a “black site” by the CIA to interrogate terrorism suspects. In 2016, the lease for the base was extended until 2036. The UK has no right to extend the lease as it has been directed by the UN to leave the islands.
The BBC maintains that the deadline “is not binding, so no sanctions or immediate punishment will follow – but that could change”. The broadcaster was full of activism and crocodile tears over the Kashmir issue as it directly towed Pakistan’s line. But it refused to rebuke its own government for dishonouring the ICJ verdict, the will of the indigenous. It upholds the ‘colonial supremacy’ of the Kingdom and has not outraged on Chagos matter at all, even when BBC’s activism is most needed here.