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Tragic story about citizens of Diego Garcia - and their dogs

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Old 06-11-2007, 08:05 PM   #1
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Tragic story about citizens of Diego Garcia - and their dogs

In light of the concern about people engaging in dog fighting, I thought the following information, paraphrased from a new book called Freedom Next Time, by journalist and filmmaker John Pilger, might be worth consideration:

You may have heard of Diego Garcia, an island in the middle of the Indian Ocean in the Chagos Archipelago, a paradise with no serious adverse weather conditions that ever afflict it, and now home to the third largest American military base in the world (there are 725 U.S. bases in all). In the 60’s and early 70’s, the entire population of the Chagos Archipelago was forcibly evicted from their country, a legal part of distant Mauritius, but with its own national identity.

Diego Garcia was the home to 2,000 very happy people who had lived there for roughly 200 years, the descendants of slaves, originally brought there by the French. They had wonderful villages, a light rail system, and happy families – almost all of whom had dogs as pets. Dogs were a great source of joy for Diego Garcia families. More on that in a moment.

In the 1960’s , Great Britain and the United States collaborated to forcibly remove and trick the 2,000 inhabitants off of the island, which is now, in violation of a UN Resolution, a British protectorate. The goal was to build a massive military base. Parliament was never told in Great Britain, and the world was in the dark about this extraordinary theft of a country until it began to come to light years later in 1975, in part due to a Washington Post story. The Labor governent of Harold Wilson was behind the theft.

Various means were used to gradually get the people off of the island, which the US military demanded be “swept” and “sanitized.” For example, when citizens on Diego Garcia, had to go to Mauritius proper for medical treatment, they were simply not allowed to return, told that their island had been sold. Families that lived in delightful island cottages were forced to live in Mauritisan slum shanties that had previously housed goats and pigs. One man died of a stroke due as soon as he was told his country was “sold.” Many children died of a “broken heart” due to living in inhuman conditions after having lived in such positive ones on Diego Garcia. Eventually, all of the citizens of Diego Garcia were deported to these slums.

The British did other things to try to get the rest of the population off, like trying to starve the remaining people on the island - by cutting off supply ships. When that didn’t work, they spread rumors that the people would be bombed. And when they still didn’t leave, they turned on the Diego Garcians’ beloved family dogs.

In the spring of 1971, the British started to use poisoned fish balls to kill the dogs. Then they paid a man to walk around with a big stick and beat dogs to death, or try to.

Finally, “they backed several of their big vehicles against the brick shed where the coconuts were prepared; hundreds of dogs had been rounded up and imprisoned there. Then they gassed them through a tube from the truck’s exhaust. You could hear them crying,” reported a witness named Lizette.

“The bodies of the dogs, many still alive, were thrown on to a shelf that usually held the flesh of coconuts as it was cooked above the husks burning below. This was their pyre. Children listened to the howls of their pets being burned to death and watched a few trying to escape on to the beach, and being driven back into the flames by the whippers-in. It took more than a ton of husks to complete the slaughter,” reported investigative journalist John Pilger.

“The children loved their dogs,” said Lizette. “Nothing was the same after that. We were covered in sadness.”

The rest of the people were forcibly removed after that, which you can read about in the book.

The case for allowing the citizens of Diego Garcia to return to their homes is being fought in the courts of Great Britain. Tony Blair tried very hard to prevent the land from being returned to its citizens, but the High Court there ruled against his government, calling the story “repugnant.” The case is on another appeal.

Another part of this story is the massive cover up by the British government, as well as the US government, in which countless lies were told to the public.

Mauritius was a British colony, and since Diego Garcia was a part of Mauritius, all of the citizens there were British citizens.

Ironically, some years later Margaret Thatcher, the conservative Prime Minister, waged a war against Argentina when 2,000 British citizens were caught up in a territorial dispute between Great Britain and Argentina. 2,000 were evicted brutally by Britain on Diego Garcia, while 2,000 were "saved" by Britain in the Falkland Islands.

The difference? The Falklanders were white, while the citizens of Diego Garcia were black.
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