Monday, April 2, 2012

Other Palestines

Another inglorious chapter in Australia's one-sided and undignified love affair with the United States has begun. It involves the transformation of the remote Australian Indian Ocean territory known as the Cocos (Keeling) Islands into a base for US military hardware, including giant drones, aircraft carriers and nuclear-powered submarines. There's only one problem: the people who actually live there would most certainly never have opted to become part of Australia if they'd known it would one day, in a moment of steamy passion, hand their island home over to the US military as a token of its crazy love*:

"Signa Knight - a descendant of one of the original Malay slaves of the Cocos Islands - was one of the majority on the remote Indian Ocean outpost who voted in a UN referendum in 1984 to integrate with Australia... But the 63-year-old now fears that the government he looked to for protection and a good future for his children has struck a deal with the US to turn his quiet island home, 2,750km northwest of Perth, into a busy military base. 'I am worried about Americans coming', he told The Australian. 'They go to war a lot. I think if they come here, they will do what they like'. Mr Knight, who was born and bred on Cocos's Home Island, believes his people will eventually be told about plans to increase the US military presence on the isolated chain of atolls - but never asked... One resident told The Australian locals sometimes felt like they were still not really wanted - although strategically significant." (Drones just another hazard for islanders, Paige Taylor, 2/4/12)

Just as the now dispossessed people of Palestine were never at any stage asked by the British if they wanted their homeland transformed into a Jewish state.

And just as the now dispossessed people of another Indian Ocean island, Diego Garcia, were never asked by the British if they wanted their island handed over to the US military:

"Forty years ago, on Dec. 30, 1966, at the US Embassy in London, representatives of the US and British governments met, as one participant later put it, 'under the cover of darkness', to sign an 'exchange of notes' giving the United States the right to create what was to become a major military base on Diego Garcia, an obscure British Island in the middle of the Indian Ocean. In doing so they made provision for 'those administrative measures' necessary to forcibly deport the entire native population of the island and the surrounding Chagos Archipelago. While Diego Garcia has gained some attention as a key launch pad for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, few know about the expulsion of nearly 2,000 people, called Chagossians, that was eventually carried out between 1968 and 1973 to create the base.

"Despite the anonymity, the facts are not in doubt: Beginning in 1960, US officials initiated secret conversations with the British government and eventually secured British agreement to provide 'exclusive control' of the island 'without local inhabitants'. The governments finalized the deal with their December 30 exchange of notes, in effect creating a treaty but circumventing congressional and parliamentary oversight. A separate secret agreement provided for $14 million in undisclosed US payments to deport the Chagossians and turn Diego Garcia into a military colony. With the financial and diplomatic details ensured, beginning in 1968, islanders leaving Chagos for vacations or medical treatment on the island of Mauritius were barred by the British from returning and thus marooned 1,200 miles from their homes. The British soon began restricting supplies for the islands, and by the turn of the decade, more Chagossians were leaving as food and medicines dwindled. In 1971 the US Navy began construction on Diego Garcia and ordered the British to complete the removals. First British agents and US soldiers on Diego Garcia herded the Chagossians' pet dogs into sealed sheds and gassed and burned them in front of their traumatized owners awaiting deportation. Then, between 1971 and 1973, British agents forced the islanders to board overcrowded cargo ships and left them on the docks in Mauritius and the Seychelles." (Island of Injustice: The US has a moral duty to the people of Diego Garcia, David Vine,, 2/1/07)

Is this what's being cooked up for our fellow Australians on Cocos?

[*Unable to admit what a cheap little tart she is, this floosy is telling herself stories like this: "'The sea-air gap to our north is at the strategic centre of our primary operational environment', the government policy paper says. 'It affords us an opportunity to detect and respond to potentially hostile military incursions at sufficiently long ranges to enable an effective response before an adversary could reach Australian mainland territory and, in particular, key population centres and majore infrastructure'." (Drones just another...)]

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