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Chagos Islanders still prevented from going home

A disappointing verdict in the British House of Lords today, with citizens of the Chagos Islands in the Indian Ocean, forcibly evicted in the early 1970s, losing an appeal to reverse a decision preventing their return to their home.

In a disgraceful act of technical genocide, the entire population of the archipelago was uprooted by the British Government so that the US Government could build a top secret military base on the island of Diego Garcia. In more recent times Diego Garcia is believed to have been used as a site for extraordinary rendition - see this February 2008 report from Al Jazeera.

In 2000 the British High Court ruled that the Chagossians could return to all of the archipelago except for Diego Garcia itself. This decision was overturned by the Blair Government in 2004, claiming "Royal Prerogative". It was an appeal against this latter decision that was rejected by the law lords on a 3-2 split decision. The PDF of the 86-page decision can be seen here.

More information on the depopulation of Diego Garcia on Wikipedia, and from the Chagos People's Homeland Campaign. Also highly recommended is John Pilger's 2006 documentary "Stealing A Nation", which can be viewed in full on Google Video.

It is likely that the case will be taken to the European Court of Human Rights.