Independence for Chagossians? Time to End Colonialist Policies
In a recent speech regarding budgetary measures for 2022–23, the Mauritian minister of finance, economic planning and development, Renganaden Padayachy, pledged to continue the efforts to decolonize the Chagos Archipelago. For nigh on fifty-seven years, this issue has been buried under the rigmarole and casuistry of both Washington and Westminster.
Originally a “dependency” of the British colony of Mauritius, the archipelago was excised from the country’s jurisdiction in 1965. Since then, the US and UK have established and maintained a military base on Diego Garcia, the largest of the islands. However, the decision to do so came at an extremely inhumane cost but one that was barely a burden for the Anglo-American dyad: the expulsion of native Chagossians from land that is rightfully theirs.
Since independence, the Mauritian government has remained more or less consistent in its claims that the Chagos Archipelago belongs to them. However, much akin to the British and American governments, Mauritius is not entirely innocent of the current situation of Chagossian refugees. The discourse has been twisted to the point of excluding what should really be the crux of the conversation: the history of the island’s inhabitants, their efforts at homesteading, and how government after government has targeted the archipelago for its own interests.
The Chagossians as Homesteaders
The people that are referred to as the Chagossians trace their origins back to the establishment of the first successful colony on the islands by the French in 1793. Under French rule, slaves were brought mostly from Mozambique, Senegal, and Madagascar to work on coconut plantations for the extraction of copra. With the capture of Mauritius by the English in 1810, the Chagos Islands consequently became British territory as well.
With the abolition of slavery in 1835, indentured la
Article from Mises Wire