• Fifty years ago Britain separated the Chagos Islands from its colony, Mauritius, expelling the entire population to make way for the installation of a US military base.
  • On Monday, the International Court of Justice (ICJ), United Nations’ highest court ruled that continued British occupation of the remote Indian Ocean archipelago is illegal.
  • UK foreign ministry flatly refused to obey the ruling, saying the island will only be returned to Mauritius when their need for it ends.

When British journalist and author, George Orwell, wrote his world acclaimed book the ‘Animal Farm' he must have had the United Kingdom and Mauritius in mind.

You see the ‘mighty’ London thinks that it is too high and mighty to be held by the same laws and regulations as ‘poor and uncultured’ African nations like Mauritius just like Orwell warned decades ago that while ‘all animals are equal, some animals are more equal than others’.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May
UK Prime Minister Theresa May

Nothing better exemplifies this than UK’s attitude over Mauritius’s Chagos Islands, which is sickening to the core, to say the least, and it is high time somebody calls them out. The UK has blood on their hands and somebody needs to tell them so on their face or shove it down their throats if need be for them to realise we are in 2019 for god sake not 1913, the height of British empire.

Port Louis, Capital of Mauritius
Port Louis, Capital of Mauritius

On Monday, the International Court of Justice (ICJ), United Nations’ highest court ruled that continued British occupation of the remote Indian Ocean archipelago is illegal and ordered the UK to hand back the Chagos Islands to Mauritius “as rapidly as possible”.

International Court of Justice
International Court of Justice

Delivering judgment, the president of the ICJ, Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf, said the detachment of the Chagos archipelago in 1965 from Mauritius had not been based on a “free and genuine expression of the people concerned”.

This continued administration constitutes a wrongful act,” he added.

The UK has an obligation to bring to an end its administration of the Chagos archipelago as rapidly as possible and that all member states must co-operate with the United Nations to complete the decolonization of Mauritius.”

The president of the ICJ, Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf.
The president of the ICJ, Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf.

As far as legal experts and law-abiding countries were concerned, the matter was over and final. In fact, they were only waiting for the due date when Mauritius would get its rightful territory back, albeit without any compensation. It wasn’t that easy, however, thanks to UK’s pompous and arrogant manner.

Instead of obeying the rule of law like it normally likes to preach to African nations whenever they transgress, mark you with their noses held high irrespective of whether their opinion has been sought or not, UK decided it was too high to be held by the same standard as ‘poor’ Mauritius.

Britain's Foreign Office
Britain's Foreign Office

UK foreign ministry flatly refused to obey the ruling, saying the island will only be returned to Mauritius when their need for it ends, how convenient.

Ms May administration resorted to gimmicks and tired excuses going as far as using terrorism to make their illegal and long overdue claim over Chagos Islands.

"The defence facilities on British Indian Ocean Territory help to protect people here in Britain and around the world from terrorist threats, organised crime and piracy," the foreign ministry said in a statement.

Diego Garcia Island
Diego Garcia Island

The UK even had the guts to call the UN a toothless bulldog.

"This is an advisory opinion, not a judgment," it said

Wow! If only African countries had the same luxury to choose which laws to adhere to and disregard without a second thought.

In 1966, Britain leased the Chagos Islands to the United States for 50 years, so that it could set up a military base.
In 1966, Britain leased the Chagos Islands to the United States for 50 years, so that it could set up a military base.

How is Mauritius seriously benefiting from the UK’s lordship of the Island? Mauritians probably don’t feel any safer from the purported British presence on the island. If anything, they are actually more insecure and at harm’s way.

Fifty years ago Britain separated the Chagos Islands from its colony, Mauritius, expelling the entire population to make way for the installation of a US military base that is today highly strategic.

Diego Garcia, the largest of the islands, is now under lease to the US
Diego Garcia, the largest of the islands, is now under lease to the US

In 1966, Britain leased the Chagos Islands to the United States for 50 years, so that it could set up a military base. In 2016 the deal was extended to 2036.

Diego Garcia, the largest of the islands, is now under lease to the US and played a key strategic role in the Cold War before being used as a staging ground for US bombing campaigns against Afghanistan and Iraq in the 2000s.

Chagossians protesting the illegal occupation of the Islands by British.
Chagossians protesting the illegal occupation of the Islands by British.

Does the UK share their ‘illegal loot’ with Mauritius? Of course not. Yet it wants to claim it is doing so in the best interest of ‘poor hapless’ Mauritius and the rest of the world.

What of the human toll the illegal occupation of the Island came with? Does the UK even want to admit it in the first place? While we may indeed be living in the 21st century where words like equality and human rights are tossed around by the West whenever they are talking down to African nations, the UK has just proved beyond doubt that it still retains its ‘backward and illogical’, view of Mauritians it had 50 years ago.

A protester protesting the illegal occupation of Chagos Islands by United Kingdom outside the Houses of Parliament in London.
A protester protesting the illegal occupation of Chagos Islands by United Kingdom outside the Houses of Parliament in London.

Between 1968 and 1973, around 2,000 Chagos islanders were evicted, a process described in a British diplomatic cable at the time as the removal of "some few Tarzans and Man Fridays".

Most were forcefully shipped to Mauritius and Seychelles without their consent.

African Union headquarters in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa
African Union headquarters in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa

In all this, what is even more disheartening is the silent and meek voice, if any, of the African Union.

If the AU cannot speak against African countries facing injustice and blatant discrimination at the hands of the west, who will?

H.E. Moussa Faki Mahamat, The Chairperson of the African Union Commission.
H.E. Moussa Faki Mahamat, The Chairperson of the African Union Commission.

Sure, to be fair the AU and its predecessor, the Organisation of African Unity, have for several years, expressed concern on the unlawful excision of the Chagos Archipelago, including Diego Garcia, from the territory of Mauritius by the United Kingdom.

So far, all these concerns seems to have failed is AU now willing and ready to use other more ‘radical measures’ against UK over its the illegal occupation of an African territory?

Chagossians claim for their native land
Chagossians claim for their native land

Maybe the UK knows too well that just like the UN, the African Union is nothing more than a toothless bulldog only good at barking but cannot take a bite to save its life.

If anything, at least African nations can now know how to behave better in front of their ‘master’ least she gets angry and evict all of them to set up a fancy military base for the highest bidder after ‘all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others’.