In a 1966 memo, as Britain prepared to hand the Chago

In a 1966 memo, as Britain prepared to hand the Chago

  Islands to the US, British civil servant Paul Gore-Booth wrote that the aim of the exercise was “to get some rocks which will remain ours.”

  To which British diplomat Dennis Greenhill replied, in a cable brut

ally maligning the population of the Chagos Islands: “Unfortunately, along with birds go som

e few Tarzans … whose origins are obscure and who are hopefully being wished on to Mauritius.”

  Had Greenhill illuminated himself he would have learned that the first inhabitants of th

e Chagos Islands were slaves shipped from Madagascar and Mozambique to work on coconut planta

tions by the French in the 18th century. After the Napoleonic wars, France ceded

the Chagos Islands to Britain.Diego Garcia, the largest island in the Chagos archipelago and site of a majo

r United States military base, located in the middle of the Indian Ocean, was leased from Britain in 1966.

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