In December 1966, Lord Chalfont, a British Foreign Office minister, signed a contract in Washington giving the Pentagon a 50-year "lease" on Diego Garcia with an automatic extension of 20 years. On 24 January 2007, David Cameron, the leader of the opposition Conservative Party, reacting to concerns expressed about the plight of the people of the Chagos Islands who were forcibly removed from their homeland in the Indian Ocean as a result of the contract signed by Lord Chalfont (see Stealing a nation, NA Nov, Dec & Feb), promised action to right the wrong done to the Chagossians. For the record, we publish below, in full, David Cameron's statement:
"I understand your concerns on this general issue. There is ongoing legal action so I don't want to comment on the legality of all this. But I recognise that there is a moral issue here. We cannot undo any mistakes of the past, but we must do all we can to correct them now.
I recognise the importance of the [American] air base on Diego Garcia, which was used in the recent conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the GulfWar of the early 1990s, and the security concerns that prevent the...