residents, the Chagosians were herded into the hold of two c
argo ships, then dumped on the quayside in Mauritius or the Seychelles. The pets they left
behind were rounded up by soldiers and gassed. Their houses left to the jungle.
”People were living in cemeteries or in cattle houses, anywhere they could get a roof over their h
eads,” says Isobel Charlot, whose family wound up in Mauritius. “The Chagos Islands were b
eautiful. Going to Mauritius abruptly made them depressed, many became alcoholics.”
In the 1980s, the UK paid some $5.2 million to more than 1,300 islanders on the condition they renounce their right to retu
rn.In 1946, 167 natives of the Bikini Atoll were persuaded to leave their paradise chain of 23 coral islands with twist
ing palm trees and aquamarine waters, after Commodore Ben H Wyatt, the military governor of the Marshall Islan
ds, to which the atoll belonged, told them their land was needed for “the good of mankind and to end all world wars.”
In reality, that meant dropping 23 nuclear weapons on Bikini between 1946 and 1958, as par
t of the Cold War nuclear arms race — including the most powerful explosion ever detonated by the US.