Mauritius “invades” the Chagos Islands and challenges London: “They are ours”

from Luigi Ippolito

An expedition led by the UN ambassador plants a flag on the archipelago. The risk of a Falklands-style crisis. “A Thatcher Moment” for Boris Johnson?

FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT
LONDON –
The Chagos like the Falklands? Boris Johnson may have his “Thatcher moment” after the island of Mauritius has “invaded” the remote archipelago in the Indian Ocean, a British possession since the Napoleonic era.

One boat

It happened that a naval expedition from Mauritius (consisting of a single boat) landed on the Chagos and planted its banner in the sand: “We perform the symbolic act of raising the flag as the British have so often done to establish their colonies – proclaimed the Mauritian ambassador to the UN, who was leading the “invasion” -. Only we now claim what has always been ours. ”

The tear

The dispute dates back to 1965, when Mauritius, then British rule, acquired independence: only London detached the Chagos, considered a strategic outpost due to their position between East Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia. It is in fact the largest island of the archipelago, Diego Garcia, was leased to the Americans who established a military base there from which they conducted operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“Few Tarzan and Friday”

To make way for military installations, they deported all the inhabitants of Chagos, about 1,500, who were dispersed between Mauritius and the Seychelles (while some also ended up in England). The natives were then defined by the British like “a few Tarzan and Friday”, but their descendants still fight to be able to return to their ancestral land.

The vote at the UN

The whole issue is putting Britain in diplomatic difficulty. Already in 2019 the International Court of Justice had ruled that London should return the Chagos to Mauritius: a sentence that was endorsed by the UN General Assemblywith a vote also read as a sign of British diplomatic isolation after Brexit.
So far, however, the London government pretends not to hear: or rather, it believes that all these pronouncements are not binding. Will Johnson do like Thatcher, who sent the Royal Navy to the other end of the world to take back the Falklands?


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