The Chagos Archipelago is a group of islands situated in the middle of the Indian Ocean. You may have heard of the largest of these Islands, Diego Garcia, because it is home to a strategically important US military base. However, the story of how this base came to being is rather sordid. And the plight of the thousands of inhabitents who were expelled from their homeland to make room for this base is utterly tragic.
Today’s episode is a little different than what you may be used to from a typical monday episode of Global Dispatches Podcast. I have two guests today–each bringing a different perspective to one vastly overlooked affront to human rights that has been ongoing for the last 50 years.
I first speak with David Vine an associate professor at American University and author of a book about the Chagossian exile called Island of Shame. We discuss the history of Diego Garcia, why the US military considers the base is so strategically important, and what’s become of the Chagossian population since their expulsion.
Next I speak with Olivier Bancoult, who at the age of 4 was banished from his homeland. Like many Chagossians, he now lives in Mauritius. He tells me his life story and we have an absolutely fascinating and somewhat tragic conversation about how a people who have been banished from their homeland adapt and find ways to preserve their cultural heritage.