Chronology...

Mid 1780s - French colonist from Mauritius establishes a coconut plantation on Diego Garcia.

August 1964 - A joint US/UK military survey of the islands takes place.  

November 1965 - The British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT) is formed. This includes Chagos.

December 1965 - UN resolution 2066XX is passed by the General Assembly. It called on the UK ‘to take no action which would dismember the territory of Mauritius and to violate its integrity.’ Britain refused to implement this resolution.   

December 1966 - British and US Governments sign a secret military agreement giving Diego Garcia to the US for military purposes. Forced expulsion of the Chagos islanders begins.

 

 

March 1971 - First US military personnel arrive on Diego Garcia; construction of huge US naval listening station begins. Islanders’ villages and graveyard are destroyed.

September 1971 - the last Chagossian is evicted from Diego Garcia and their return is barred by section 4 of the BIOT Immigration Ordinance 1971 – in 2000 this provision removing the Chagossians was declared  unlawful in the London High Court. 

1971-73 - Over 1,000 Islanders are living in desperate poverty in Mauritius and Seychelles. The UK washes its hands of its own citizens, stating that it is now the responsibility of these poor island states to provide for the exiles.

1973 - Britain decides on a complete depopulation of the outlying islands in the Chagos Archipelago and the islands are cleansed of their remaining communities.

1975 - Some aspects of the Chagossian affair surface at a US Congressional Committee hearing.

November 3 2000 - At the High Court of Justice in London, Lord Justice Laws and Mr Justice Gibbs hold Section 4 of the BIOT Immigration Ordinance to be unlawful and that it should be quashed. The Chagos islanders should in consequence be allowed to go home.

The British Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook, announced that the government would not appeal against the ruling. Later the same day, the Foreign Office published a new Immigration Ordinance which confined the banning order only to the island of Diego Garcia.

June 2004 - Using its Royal Prerogative, the British Government announced two ‘orders in council’ - in effect overturning the High Court ruling and banning the Chagossians from returning to the outlying islands. FCO Minister Bill Rammell claimed the two orders restored the legal position to what it was before the High Court decision of November 2000.

April 2006 - In a visit organised by the British & Mauritian Governments, 100 Chagossians return on a short trip to the islands, some 40 years after they were forcibly expelled and some 19 years after the US & UK Governments allowed the Dallas Cowboys' Cheerleaders to visit Diego Garcia to entertain US forces.

May 2006 - The Chagos islanders' case is brought back to court.  In a damning verdict, two High Court judges condemn as ‘repugnant’ the UK Government’s choice to ‘exile a whole population’. The High Court states the two orders in council are ‘null and void.’  The FCO appeals.

May 2007 - The Chagos islanders win another victory in the Court of Appeal that confirms their right of return to the outer islands. On 23 October the House of Lords gives conditional permission to the Government to appeal the verdict.

January 2008 - The House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee takes oral evidence from Olivier Bancoult leader of the Chagos Refugees Group and their lawyer, Richard Gifford.

March 2008 - The launch of the Let Them Return campaign.

June-July 2008 - Anticipated publication of report by House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee on the UK’s Overseas Territories.

30 June 2008 - Expected hearing of FCO Appeal by the House of Lords.

22nd October 2008 – UK Law Lords uphold the Government’s appeal again the Chagossians.