The Null Device

Paradise regained (briefly)

Some 40 years after being forcibly expelled from their island home by the British government to make way for the huge US military base in Diego Garcia (one of the more ignominious episodes in post-war British colonial history), the Chagos islanders are being allowed to return, albeit only for a few days. 102 Chagossians will make a 12-day visit to the outlying islands, beholding the derelict coconut oil plantations where they or their ancestors lived, and tending to ancestral graves. The visit, which is being organised by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office will also leave behind a trail of memorial plaques, an exercise which is presumably meant to whitewash the government's somewhat tarnished image over the forcible expulsions (they were reclassified as temporary contract workers, a rather shabby legal fiction which allowed the government to, in the space of one day, herd them onto ships to Mauritius, forcing them to leave homes and possessions behind), and ongoing efforts to deny the islanders the right of permanent return, at the Pentagon's behest. There will not be any members of the press on the trip, apparently for reasons of space.

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