A Key Test for International Law 126

The ethnic cleansing by the British of an entire small population and culture – the Chagos Islanders – is probably the most despicable act by Britain of my lifetime.  As if the Iraq War and Extraordinary Rendition were not enough, New Labour’s moral dereliction – or more properly evil – was confirmed by the breathtaking cynicism of David Miliband’s proclamation of a Marine Protected Zone around the islands, designed to protect the American base on Diego Garcia and make it impossible for the Chagos Islanders to return to their living as native fishermen, and keep away any eyes that might see the secret prison inmates.

Extraordinarily and to their eternal shame, a number of prominent British environmentalists and conservationists lent their support to the Diego Garcia marine protected zone.  These purblind fools, obsessed with a single cause and blind to wider policy and justice, are in the same category as the ridiculous “feminists” who were co-opted by the neo-conservatives agents (be they propaganda media or secret service or both) to frustrate the aims of Julian Assange and Tommy Sheridan.

In truth, if colonial conquest and force majeure are legitimate grounds of sovereignty, and if extermination of a population can wipe out the legal right to self-determination, then in international law Britain has the right to Diego Garcia and to give it as tribute to their US overlords.  But if international law has any relationship of any kind to principles of justice, then Britain should not be permitted to reap the dubious benefit of genocide.  What international law actually is in the neo-conservative era is the real question before the UN tribunal now looking at the Diego Garcia question.

The UK is represented by Sir Michael Wood.  He is the man who overruled my objection inside the FCO to the use of “intelligence” gained from torture, and argued that British cooperation with extraordinary rendition was legal.

If anybody in Scotland can read through this and read through the links, and does not want to take the chance to leave the stinking cesspit of international shame that is the United Kingdom, they are severely deficient in moral sense.


126 thoughts on “A Key Test for International Law

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  • Peacewisher

    It wasn’t new labour, Craig, it was “old labour”, followed by “wet” tories. And it was kept very quiet. I know a bit about this because I was shocked that Mr Wilson could agree to such a thing, and that Spanish civil war veteran Mr Heath would follow it through. But they did. And the truth was kept away from the British Public for many years. The hand-over must also have been somehow kept out of the UN somehow. Perhaps someone will know how…

  • wikispooks

    As Peter H Sand said in the Journal of Environmental Law:

    The Diego Garcia lagoon (which is part of Britain’s Ramsar Convention site No 1077/2UK001) must be the world’s only internationally registered nature reserve that also serves as habitat to nuclear submarines, ordnance supply vessels [and a host of other seriously polluting activities

    Over 1.5 million gallons of aviation fuel spilled in documented ‘accidents’ between 1984 and 1998 + massive increase in alien plant species + radiation leakages + sonar decimating marine species – the list is a truly appalling one – but “Hushhhh were really trying to conserve and protect the environment – Honest” say our pigmy puppet politicos.

    “Hypocrisy” AND “evil Machiavellian calculation” together do not come close to describing what the British government – of BOTH parties has done to the Chagossians

    Wikispooks article here

  • DtP

    I applaud your optimism that a new Jock government would be much different from a UK government. I have a sneaking suspicion that modern day John Reids, George Robertsons and Jim Murphys would still ply their trade with impunity. Bit depressing, really.

  • Duncan McFarlane

    I signed a petition for the conservation zone but was suspicious about it so added the comment “on condition that it is not used as an excuse to continue to refuse the Chagos Islanders’ right of return or right to sustainable fishing”. Probably shouldn’t have signed it at all though as likely most comments will never have been read.

  • Richard

    I am sympathetic to most of this article, but I still don’t see how separatism will help matters. For the reasons that DtP suggests, it may not even work for the people of a separate Scotland. It certainly won’t do the rest of us any good. Somehow or other we have to correct the moral cesspit that Westminster has become (has been for some time, actually, since the Diego Garcia obscenity goes back decades). This will be difficult. Things are so bad that not only do decent people not want to get into politics, but the corrupt and the nasty act as gatekeepers to the castle anyway. We are only allowed to choose (select with our votes) between people who have already been put up for us by the party machines. What kind of people are they likely to be? The system has become self-perpetuating.

  • Anon

    Good point DtP!

    There seem to be some high hopes here concerning the future of an independent Scotland, not at all grounded in reality.

    It is as if all the unpleasantness, corruption, greed and malice of mankind will disappear the moment Scotland votes ‘Yes’.

    And Craig accuses the ‘No’ campaign of coming up with a lot of crap.

  • craig Post author


    But a Yes vote would be very specifically a rejection of George Robertson, John Reid and Jim Murphy.

    I must say, I find the “An independent Scotland would be no use anyway because all states are bound to become neo-conservative” argument both nihilistic and based on an ignorance of Scottish culture. If you take the view that any attempt to make things better is doomed to failure, I can’t see why you bother to continue living.

  • Anon

    You do seem to have some pretty outlandish hopes, Craig.

    “based on an ignorance of Scottish culture.”


    It really is all about race, nationality, culture, isn’t it? Scots are intrinsically better people, despite the large proportions of Scots involved in the British establishment you so despise, aren’t they?

    “If you take the view that any attempt to make things better is doomed to failure, I can’t see why you bother to continue living.”

    Reality check:

    Scots before independence – ruled by self-serving EU controlled troughers.
    Scots after independence – ruled by self-serving EU controlled troughers.

    Sorry 🙁

    Didn’t pro-Putin, anti-Iraq, Syria, and Libya wars Nigel Farage go up to Scotland and offer a non-Neocon, non EU vision? And what was the reaction?

  • Mary

    A petition came through at the time. Can’t remember whether it was from Avaaz or 38 Degrees. Anyway I returned it unsigned and told them what to do with it.

    How the bastards did it.

    Marine nature reserve and cable leak – In April 2010, the British Government—specifically, the British diplomat Colin Roberts, acting on the instructions of David Miliband—established a marine nature reserve around the Chagos Islands known as the Chagos Protected Area. The designation proved controversial as the decision was announced during a period when the UK Parliament was in recess.

    On December 1, 2010, a leaked US Embassy London diplomatic cable dating back to 2009 exposed British and US calculations in creating the marine nature reserve. The cable relays exchanges between US Political Counselor Richard Mills and British Director of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Colin Roberts, in which Roberts “asserted that establishing a marine park would, in effect, put paid to resettlement claims of the archipelago’s former residents.” Richard Mills concludes:

    Establishing a marine reserve might, indeed, as the FCO’s Roberts stated, be the most effective long-term way to prevent any of the Chagos Islands’ former inhabitants or their descendants from resettling in the [British Indian Ocean Territory].

    The cable (reference ID “09LONDON1156”) was classified as confidential and “no foreigners”, and leaked as part of the Cablegate cache.

    Armed with the Wikileaks revelations, the Chagossians launched an appeal, seeking a judgement that the reserve was unlawfully aimed at preventing them returning home. Although Bradley Manning had been arrested nearly three years previously, the UK government felt unable to confirm to the court that the leaked documents were genuine. It was made clear to the court that the government’s inability to confirm was for two reasons: firstly, to protect itself from the charge that it created the reserve to prevent the islanders from ever returning home and, secondly, out of a purported fear (Bradley Manning had been looking at 22 charges related to leaking classified government documents for more than two years by now) that the US government might get angry if the cables were acknowledged as genuine. Despite the contents of his cable being known—”a marine park would, in effect, put paid to resettlement claims of the archipelago’s former residents”—Roberts denied, when questioned in court, that there was an “ulterior motive” behind the reserve’s establishment. Lord Justice Richards and Mr Justice Mitting then refused to accept the documents as evidence, declaring that to do so would breach diplomatic privilege. The Guardian described their decision as having “far-reaching consequences” and “a severe setback for the use of material obtained from leaks or whistleblowers.” In June 2013, the pair of judges turned down the appeal brought by the Chagossians, ruling that everything was fine because the reserve was compatible with EU law.

    I expect Roberts got a gong or a promotion and although the islanders have no home, Miliband is sitting pretty in New York on his large screw from the IRC said to be £300k pa.

  • DtP

    I do hope you’re right Craig. I certainly don’t think it’s inevitable that neo-conservatism is the only game in town but I think the main political parties – Nats too – just produce these cloned mekons who form circle jerks to screw the voter. The saving grace is that as London drifts off to exclude itself from the rest of the UK by its supine relationship with money laundering that the Scots can escape. Brown’s speech tomorrow has been telegraphed and, crikey, he’s not improved at all – still tribal more than philosophical.

  • Peacewisher

    Thank you. Wikispooks. That pretty comprehensively answers my question. I like the “Hypocrisy Meter”.

  • craig Post author

    Off topic completely, but somebody told me that Aaronvitch has admitted to putting fake reviews of Voodoo Histories on Amazon, or encouraging others to do so. But I can’t find anything on google. Any pointers?

  • Nasir Ali

    It is difficult to know what the Independent Scotland will be like but I can’t see how it can be any worse than the present UK.

    I see some hope in the launch of the new party, NOTA, None Of The Above.


    I have certainly thought for a long time that spoiling the ballot is the only choice we have to show that the status quo is not acceptable. I hope this party is successful.

  • Pete

    Craig, who are these “prominent British environmentalists and conservationists” specifically? Can you point us to a convenient list?

    The broad “Green” agenda in this country encompasses a great variety of people, most of them shockingly naive, many of them pursuing very narrow and short-sighted goals having nothing to do with the maintenance of this planet as an inhabitable world, some of them plain hypocrites, a few of them very sinister.

    There was an excellent article in Lobster magazine a few years ago on the extreme right-wing roots of the original Ecology Party, and its links to James Goldsmith, John Aspinall, and other unpleasant millionaires with “carbon footprints” the size of Wales. Nowadays the Greens are very much of the liberal left, with an inordinate faith in the ability of the State to correctly govern all aspects of life. But the main problem is a blurring of the distinction between the “ecology” agenda and the “conservation” agenda, two entirely different things.

    Ecology is about keeping the Earth inhabitable- the awareness that humans could become an “endangered species” due to climate change, sterility due to de-masculinising chemical pollution, etc. Ecological policies would require very firm control of the capitalist economy, worldwide, as a minimum, but preferably a complete economic restructuring.

    Conservation, on the other hand, amounts merely to a vague notion of “keeping things as they are”. I’ve never heard of a conservationist demolishing his own house so the land can revert to nature. In rural Cornwall where I live, the “conservation” theme is deployed by wealthy Nimbies in opposition to wind farms and solar energy “farms” that would “spoil the view” from their large houses. These renewable energy sources are essential to the Ecology agenda. Of course it never occurs to the Nimbies that their own big houses might “spoil the view” from someone else’s house who has been there centuries before them! The same people oppose affordable housing in rural areas, and any new local sources of employment.

    The Greens really need to clearly distance themselves from the conservationist agenda, but unfortunately the present leadership won’t do that because they know that many of their voters are people like somebody I know who votes for them for vaguely sentimental reasons but admits she’d never vote for them if there was a chance of them getting into power (because her family has two cars!)

  • Mary

    Hitchens seems to think Agent Cameron is operating a double bluff on the Scottish referendum vote?????

    In the Mail on Sunday Hitchens writes:

    Have we yet even begun to realise what a huge change may overtake us in September if Scotland votes for independence and Britain ceases to exist?

    Silly threats about the pound, the economy and defence simply don’t work. I hope they wouldn’t work on us either. They actually increase the pro-independence vote. So why do we keep making them?

    I for one am sure that the High Command of the Tory Party actively wants Scotland to leave. It is the only way the Conservatives who like office above all things will ever get a majority at Westminster again. You don’t think they are that cynical? Why ever not?

    The link is http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-2608679/PETER-HITCHENS-Who-using-spies-lies-grab-power-Kiev-We-are.html

  • Pete

    “Aaronvitch has admitted to putting fake reviews of Voodoo Histories on Amazon, or encouraging others to do so. But I can’t find anything on google. Any pointers?”

    Just had a quick look at the first few 5-star reviews of Voodoo Histories. There’s a distinct pattern of reviewers who have hardly reviewed any other books on Amazon and who mainly use Amazon for buying CDs and furniture. “Mr Straves” for example, the top 5-star reviewer, says he’s “read quite a bit on conspiracy theories”,but curiously his 8 pages of Amazon reviews don’t include anything on this topic. His main intellectual interests seem to be betting, drug-taking, and the identification of psychopaths!

  • craig Post author

    Can anyone fish the Times article Mary refers to from behind the paywall. Presumably he was forced into the admission?

  • Anon

    Nasir Ali 2:34 pm

    “I see some hope in the launch of the new party, NOTA, None Of The Above.”

    I thought I’d have some fun trying to glean the political leanings of this supposedly non-aligned party. No surprises really, which makes me wonder, why none of the above when you have so many to choose from?


    Alliance for Green Socialism
    Alliance for Workers’ Liberty (stands as Socialist Unity in elections)
    Communist League
    Communist Party of Britain
    Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist)
    Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist)
    Communist Party of Great Britain (Provisional Central Committee)
    Democratic Labour Party (part of TUSC).
    Independent Working Class Association
    International Socialist League
    Left Unity
    New Communist Party
    Peace and Progress Party
    Revolutionary Communist Group
    Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist)
    Socialist Action
    Socialist Appeal
    Socialist Equality Party
    Socialist Labour Party
    Socialist Party (England and Wales) (part of TUSC. Also stands as Socialist Alternative in elections.)
    Socialist Party of Great Britain
    Socialist Party of Great Britain (Reconstituted) (aka Socialist Studies)
    Socialist Peoples Party
    Socialist Resistance
    Socialist Workers Party (part of TUSC).
    Spartacist League
    United Socialist Party
    Workers Power
    Workers’ Revolutionary Party.


    To be fair, if you could get all of those to unite together then you might scratch one per cent of the vote.

  • Iain Orr

    Craig’s blog is timely and I agree with it except for two points. First, it does a disservice to the language of political and moral debate to describe the illegal expulsion of all Chagossians from their homeland as “extermination” and an example of “genocide”. They were expelled, not killed. God did not exterminate Adam and Eve. Second, I see no compelling reason other than topicality to suggest that the Chagossian saga provides support for voting “yes” in the Scottish referendum.

    There is, however, one Scottish and political point that deserves note. In 2000 three High Court judges were unanimous in accepting that the Chagossians had the right of abode in their homeland – though NOT that they had the legal right to demand that the UK government facilitate and fund any resettlement programme. Nevertheless, Robin Cook, as the Foreign Secretary and representing a Scottish constituency decided not just not to appeal that judgement; he also agreed for moral and political reasons to set up a feasibility study of resettlement.

    That the whole process of moving towards belated justice for the Chagossians was overturned in 2004 was only due to Cook being removed and replaced by the brown-nosing Jack Straw; and then to collusion by FCO and other UK officials and ministers to find a way round the High Court’s unappealed decision by the further use of profoundly colonial legislation, Orders in Council as applied to ” a ceded territory”. But Cook’s principled support for justice for the Chagossians meant that there was a brief period when HMG showed sanity and humanity.

    Mary gives an excellent summary of the recent history and showed excellent judgement in seeing how flawed the Avaaz petition was. She is also right that Colin Roberts was rewarded with promotion (though not yet a gong) – he will shortly move to Stanley to take up his appointment as Governor of the Falkland Islands: a breathtaking example of cynical irony – to become the protector of the rights of (other, white “kith and kin”) British citizens in an archipelago thousands of miles from the UK.

    I have no doubt, though he has not yet been convicted in court as a perjurer, that as an intelligent and able diplomat, Colin Roberts nevertheless was excessively protective of his and his employer’s reputations and therefore deliberately lied when asked under oath at the Tribunal about some of the words he had used at the meeting he had about the proposed Chagos MPA with members of the US Embassy. No doubt if he has any real regard for his reputation he will sue me – and others – for libelling him. So, we can fairly assume, as long as he does not, that he lacks the courage of his convictions. No doubt it is better to be thought a liar than to take the risk of trying to prove that he is not.

    My defence is cast-iron: I have the perfectly honest belief that what was printed in the Guardian and the Daily Telegraph was an accurate copy of a genuine US diplomatic cable. That documentary evidence is far stronger basis for my rational belief than are Colin Roberts’words under oath, given the FCO’s failure (so Colin Roberts claimed) to take any countervailing record of the meeting. Who would a UK jury trust more to tell the truth? A UK serving diplomat whose career is on the line? Or, a number of US officials who are reporting immediately after the event to the State Department on a meeting with a senior FCO official and have taken the trouble at a crucial point – the use of the phrase “Man Fridays” – to quote Colin Roberts verbatim?

  • Anon

    Mary 2:50 pm

    Hitchens makes a fair point. Scottish independence would result in a massive reduction of UK benefits claimants and therefore Labour Party votes.

  • Peacewisher

    LOL, Anon… Where to align, left or right?

    Perhaps there needs to be a new spectrum of alignment based on how big their lies…

    Lab, Lib, Con would certainly ALL be extremists on such a continuum.

  • craig Post author

    Iain, thanks. My understanding is that quite a lot of Chagossians died after their deportation, drifting into hopelessness and alcoholism – in short the same way the Americans killed the majority of the native americans, herding them into camps and letting disease, alcohol and the loss of meaning and identity do the work. I would argue you can commit the genocide without actively killing the people, just causing them to die.

  • Mary

    The co-editor of Dissident Voice drew comparison with Cameron’s attitude to the people in the Malvinas and the British treatment of the Chagos Islanders. This was in 2012. Is the ECHR still debating the situation as he says?

    Who respects self-determination, and who opposes colonialism?
    by Kim Petersen / June 18th, 2012

  • Tony_0pmoc

    Some very interesting posts. Globalist EU advocate, English born Craig Murray is a mass of contradictions with his support of Scottish Independence, one of a few subjects I agree with him about – but for reasons of democracy rather than centralised dictatorship. The issue of the Chagos Islands will of course disappear without trace – a bit like that plane diversion.

    I myself am a major advocate of having a sustainable planet – with having around about the same levels of population we have now – without all the pollution and wars and horror. In fact I would be a major supporter of windmills and solar power, except for the fact that they don’t work. They are energy sinks….This young lady explains it much better than me.

    “Ten Reasons Intermittent Renewables (Wind and Solar PV) are a Problem”



  • Mary

    I see the stooge who heads the WWF is in favour of the MPA.

    ‘David Nussbaum, the chief executive of WWF-UK, said the organisation still supported the creation of the MPA, and, were the Chagossians to return, the terms of the MPA would have to be revised to allow them access to fish for food and to earn a livelihood.

    Nussbaum said WWF-UK was keeping a close eye on the matter in light of the “concerning elements” mentioned in the WikiLeaks cable: “If we were to find that our position was being misrepresented as supporting the UK’s claim or supporting a view that the Chagossians should not be allowed back, we would have to review the situation again.”

    However, the environmentalists – like the islanders and the British, Mauritian and American governments – are not the only ones with an interest in what goes on in the Chagos Islands.

    The legal charity Reprieve has profound concerns over the use of the base on Diego Garcia in the rendition of those accused of terrorism.’

    “Miss Jones. Put Mr Nussbaum’s name down on that list for knighthoods please.”


    Some photos of this beautiful paradise.

    Compare and contrast with



  • Iain Orr


    I agree that some Chagossians died from illness and poverty when exiled to Mauritius and the Seychelles (others who know more may be able to supply more detail). Undoubtedly some died of broken hearts; or were destroyed by alcoholism etc. But I don’t think that merits the use of “extermination” or “genocide”. There’s an important moral issue of intent, even if there are also questions of what can be reasonably foreseen as the indirect effects of certain actions. In a sense the illegal exile of the Chagossians was an alternative to genocide, which by the later 20th century was no longer an acceptable policy for taking land from powerless people.

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