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Mystery of MH370 shrouds Diego Garcia

Mystery of MH370 shrouds Diego Garcia – military island founded on dispossession


Shoks Mnisi Mzolo – Cii News | 10 April 2014/09 Jumadal Ukhra 1435

The disappearance of a Malaysian jetliner, which went off radar in March
with 240 people on board, remains a riddle. Some pundits are now
propounding theories that MH370, the plane, was diverted by the US. Hong
Kong-based writer Yoichi Shimatsu, former editor of the Japan Times Weekly,
is one of these theorists. In the absence of a proper explanation for
MH370’s disappearance, such theories are gaining credence also due to the
cutting edge and sophisticated technologies that are a non-negotiable in
the airline industry.

A few weeks ago, pieces of the MH370 wreckage were reportedly sighted south
of Indian Ocean’s Diego Garcia by an Australian crew. However, Shimatsu
poured scorn on this “decoy site” which he felt was “salted with physical
evidence of airplane parts that have been moved surreptitiously”.

According to Shimatsu, MH370 was hijacked by remote from its Kuala
Lumpur-to-Beijing route and taken to US military base in Diego Garcia. This
little-known central Indian Ocean island is a short flight from the
Seychelles and Mauritius. Diego Garcia is the same base the Pentagon used
to launch bombs that were key in the 2003 invasion of Iraq in the George
Bush-led US search for weapons of mass destruction. History has since
recorded that the weapons pretext was just that, yet thousands of innocent
lives were lost in the US violence that ensued and lives turned upside down
yet no reparation nor apology has ever been offered especially to the
people of Iraq.

Other than its role as a US airbase, not much is known about Diego Garcia.
Where is this island and how did it end up in the hands of Washington?

To answer this question, Sabahul Khair this morning aired a CBS documentary
that zooms into the island’s tragic past and how the then-British empire
sold it to the Americans in the 1960s. The now-late ex-US defence chief
James Schlesinger described the transaction as “one of the wisest
investments of government funds” in decades. Richard Gilford, a lawyer
representing Chagossians of Diego Garcia, told CBS that the UK was too
happy to sell the island because “£5m was a massive incentive compared with
a very modest conscience problem” from the Brits angle.

To make way for the US base, Diego Garcia’s natives were illegally and
forcibly evicted to neighbouring islands where they were reduced to
poverty-stricken slum dwellers. All the Diego Garcia community was allowed
to take as it was sent to exile were clothes packed in suitcases and
nothing else. “They wanted no indigenous people there,” Marcel Moulinie,
who was ordered to ship the people out, told CBS. “The ships were small and
they could take nothing else, no furniture, nothing.” The islanders’ pets
were gassed and exterminated. Fear prevailed. Petrified small children –
now grown-up and on a campaign for resettlement – held on to their mothers’

Some of the islanders found living conditions in slums unbearable, with
some equating their UK/US-designed poverty as “hell”. Nobody helped them
re-settle in foreign lands. It’s no wonder that some from this community
committed suicide while others drank themselves to death. A survivor,
Olivier Bancoult, speaks of losing three brothers to the bottle. He and
other emotionally-scarred surviving exiles still yearn for a return back

In Stealing a Nation, an award-winning 2004 documentary, painfully-frank
veteran journalist John Pilger noted how the International Criminal Court
had described the eviction of the islanders as “a crime against humanity”.
None of the negative publicity and strong words shamed Tony Blair, then UK
Prime Minister, or Bush, into giving it back to the islanders. That the
British High Court had in 2000 ruled that the depopulation had been illegal
also failed to yield justice for the islanders.


In 2008, a year after the High Court made a ruling that would facilitate a
return to their homeland, the islanders suffered another setback. That was
when the British government, then under Gordon Brown (also a Labour Party
politician, like Blair), triumphed in its House of the Lords bid to have
the High Court’s ruling overturned. For those exiled from Diego Garcia,
wanting nothing more than going back home, the struggle continues.

“This is why I will never give up,” said Bancoult, in relation to his sad
personal experience. “All the difficulty is because of the US and the UK.
They turned people’s lives into a nightmare.”

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