Sunday, March 16, 2008

Some things never change?

[I've meant to write this post for some time, and I feel bad I got caught up with other things.]

Jon Castle and Pete Bouquet have sailed into the Chagos Islands in the Indian Ocean and they've been under arrest since little more than a week ago for entering into territorial waters without permission.

British Indian Ocean Territories, the Chagos Islands include the atoll of Diego Garcia which is being used as an aircraft carrier [and apparently also in recent years as a detention center in limbo] by the US army and intelligence services. The Diego Garcia airbase was set up as a result of a secret deal between the UK and the US Governments in 1960; a deal which involved the forced expulsion of the Chagossans from their homeland. Parked in Mauritius ever since, the Chagossans are trying to recover their rights and their homeland. It is in support of their plight that Jon and Pete have sailed over there to bear witness as the Quakers say.

Jon and Pete are both former Greenpeace veteran crewmembers; they were key seamen in the genesis of the Rainbow Warrior and beyond, including the first voyages in which I also took part in 1978-1980. Of course when you hear of the expulsion of the Chagossans, the military occupation of this remote territory, and now this small protest boat, you can't avoid drawing analogies with the nuclear weapons test campaigns in the South Pacific.

Some things never change...until someone stands up and change them.

[To date, I have seen only few press reports on this story, but you can follow it through the people's Navy website (not sure I like that name...) Martini Gotje has set up]

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