‘Stealing A Nation’ (2004) is an extraordinary film about the plight of the Chagos Islands, whose indigenous population was secretly and brutally expelled by British Governments in the late 1960s and early 1970s to make way for an American military base. The tragedy, which falls within the remit of the International Criminal Court as “a crime against humanity”, is told by Islanders who were dumped in the slums of Mauritius and by British officials who left behind a damning trail of Foreign Office documents.
Before the Americans came, more than 2,000 people lived on the islands in the Indian Ocean, many with roots back to the late 18th century. There were thriving villages, a school, a hospital, a church, a railway and an undisturbed way of life. The islands were, and still are, a British crown colony. In the 1960s, the government of Harold Wilson struck a secret deal with the United States to hand over the main island of Diego Garcia. The Americans demanded that the surrounding islands be “swept” and “sanitized”. Unknown to Parliament and to the US Congress and in breach of the United Nations Charter, the British Government plotted with Washington to expel the entire population.
John Pilger Interview
Sudheer Deoli on Jul 11, 2013
John Richard Pilger (born 9 October 1939, is an Australian journalist based in London. Pilger has lived in the United Kingdom since 1962. Since his early years as a war correspondent in Vietnam, Pilger has been a strong critic of American, Australian and British foreign policy, which he considers to be driven by an imperialist agenda. Pilger has also criticised his native country’s treatment of indigenous Australians and the practices of the mainstream media. In the British print media, he has had a long association with the Daily Mirror, and writes a fortnightly column for the New Statesman magazine.
Pilger has twice won Britain’s Journalist of the Year Award. His documentaries, screened internationally, have gained awards in Britain and worldwide. The journalist has also received several honorary doctorates.