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WikiLeaks Reveals Ulterior Motive Behind Record-Setting Marine Reserve

7 December 2010 4:54 pm
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A leaked U.S. State Department cable shows that the British government had more than protecting fish on its mind when it was designing the world's largest marine protected area, in the Indian Ocean last year. The cable, part of the massive stash acquired by WikiLeaks, quotes a British diplomat saying that creating the marine reserve would stymie the return of former islanders.

Some 2000 people were deported from the Chagos archipelago in the 1960s and 1970s when the United States built a military base on the island of Diego Garcia. The Chagos Islanders want to return and continue to press their case in the European Court of Human Rights.

In May 2009, an official with the British Foreign Office--Colin Roberts, who is responsible for overseas territories--briefed U.S. diplomatic staff about government plans to create a marine reserve in the archipelago, which is within the British Indian Ocean Territory. According to the cable, published last week by the Guardian, the official said that the area "has had a great role in assuring the security of the UK and U.S." and that "establishing a marine park would, in effect, put paid to resettlement claims of the archipelago's former residents."

The U.S. officials agreed and in April 2010, the United Kingdom announced the creation of the park.

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