Friday, 17 February 2012

Spurious Land Grabbing Shows Britain At Its Worst

Growing up as an Arsenal fan in Tottenham was interesting.  I arrived at the peak of arguably one of Tottenham’s greatest ever sides, but by the time I left 14 years later we were well and truly the top dogs not just in London but in England as well.  I witnessed the tide turning as the area of Tottenham effectively became the Haringey branch of the Arsenal supporters club and the Spurs fans were driven out to Chingford, Edmonton and Enfield.

I wouldn’t say I was a devils advocate for the sake of it, but I have led a life defending minority interests.  From my almost lifelong mistrust of the Metropolitan Police, to condemning the influence of News International long before it was fashionable to do so.  If I believe in something I will dig my heels in, I think it’s the stubborn Taurean streak in me.

Take the Falkland Islands for example.  I struggle to find many in Britain who want to see our government relinquish control of the islands to Argentina.  But I struggle to see the merit to their arguments.  The overriding argument is that the islands have always been British, which is accurate but then huge swathes of the world were also once British at one time or another.  Most of which has been handed over, but the islands were retained, at huge cost both financially and in human life during the war 30 years ago. 

Oil has been located off the islands, which I suspect would have been known even before the first ships left the British harbours in 1982.

Mauritius is involved in a similar dispute with Britain over another set of islands, this time in the Indian Ocean.  I suspect that one day oil may be discovered beneath these islands as well, but as yet there is no evidence to support this theory.  I refer of course to the Chagos Islands.

There are a lot of contrasts between the Chagos Islands and the Falkland Islands.  Britain expelled the Chagossian community but sent a taskforce to protect the Falklands community.  The war of 1982 occurred in the same year as the shameful settlement which Britain offered to the exiled (and illiterate!) Chagossians who were tricked into signing away claims to their homeland.  Britain continues to protest that the Falklanders deserve self determination, but when it comes to the Chagossians 10 of the 30 articles of the UN charter of human rights are breached day by day, who enjoy no self determination whatsoever.  The Falklanders are being invited to participate in the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations later this year, yet as of last week the UK Chagos Support Association AGM which I attended confirmed that no such invitation had been extended to the Chagossians.

But for me there is something very special that connects the Chagos and Falkland islands together.  They are both islands which are administered by Britain despite being thousands of miles away from the UK.  The British may well have enjoyed control of both of these territories for many years, but this ignores the fact that the era of colonialism and claims to lands thousands of miles away from Lands End largely ended in the period immediately following World War Two.  Its outdated, unfair and morally indefensible. 

The Falkland Islands are geographically next to Argentina and control should be ceded immediately.  If the Falklanders, as I understand, are unhappy with this arrangement then they should pack up their red telephone boxes and head back to Britain.  Similarly the Chagos Islands are geographically closest to Mauritius, and should be handed back to them.  If the present occupants are unhappy with that arrangement, then likewise they should pack up their bombs and bullets and return to the States. 


  1. Well said,falklands are an exaple of colonialism and is quite wrong to keep this going for much more longer.

  2. The problem with this logic is that the.Argentine claim on the islands is basically specious, and to some degree at least a piece of demagoguery and manipulation got up by the Peron dictatorship. This demands to be resisted.

  3. I couldn't agree less. The people of the Falklands have as much right to be there as anyone has to be where they live (Like for example the Chagossians have a right to their home in the Chagos) and they also have a right to decide how they are governed as laid down in the UN charter and UNGA resolution 1514.

    The fact that the Chagossians rights have been unjustly usurped does not mean that anyone else's should be, that would be a very false way of correcting any wrong to the Chagossians. What does need to happen is that the Chagossians need to be returned home.

    The actual difference between the two peoples is that the Falkland Islanders had some idea of who to contact and had friends in parliament. In the case of the Chagos, they had no idea and no friends. Indeed the UK parliament, US Congress and the UN were lied to.

    As for who the Chagos islands belong to, no they don't belong to Mauritius, they belong to the islanders, and it is for them to decide their political allegiance if any.

  4. Benedict can I please draw your attention to UN Resolution 1514 paragraph 6: "any attempt aimed at the partial or total disruption of the national unity and the territorial integrity of a country is incompatible with the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations"

    The UK breached this resolution on not one but TWO occasions, with regards to the Falklands and also with regards to Mauritius. Just because the UK has a veto at the UN doesn't mean it can airbrush history.

    For the record I have no problem if the Falklands or the Chagos Islands wanted to go it alone, that is to manage their own affairs as independent sovereign states. I have no problem with this for one minute. The problem I have here is the British getting their grubby paws on either land. I am not in favour of any acts of colonisation: whether they be from Britain, Argentina or Mauritius. But lets get real- neither sets of Islands are able to function as independent sovereign states. So then we have the question over who should have the sovereign claim- in the cases of Falklands & the Chagos Islands this is NOT BRITAIN. It really is as simple as that.

  5. And the reason the point over sovereignty is so crucial here is because with the Chagos Islands the British are playing a game that they have played in the Falklands. You see what they did was plant a population there who would loyally bow down to the Queen and swear their allegiance to the crown of the UK. Similarly in the Chagos Islands the vast majority of the Chagossians want their islands back, and to be independent of Britain. So what does Britain do? They start working with a rogue splinter organisation called the Diego Garcia Society, led by Allen Vincatassin. Vincatassin sings the song the British want to hear: he wants the Chagos Islands to remain British. For his efforts he was rewarded with a phoney election which was endorsed by the Electoral Society of the UK (with less than 70 votes). The outcome is he is recognised by the British as being the legitimate voice of the Chagossians. He even has the title "The first president of the Chagos Islands". Its obscene and is one of the crucial reasons I 100% back Argentina in their dispute with Britain.