Stealing a Nation

Diego Garcia

Went to a screening last night of John Pilger’s Stealing a Nation (2004) as part of the John Pilger Festival at The Barbican – a treat for U who’s a big admirer of Pilger’s work.

The film was typical Pilger – a well constructed exposition of the plight of the Chagos Islanders and an illustration of how the powerful treat the ordinary man. In the 60s the British turfed the population off the island of Diego Garcia in the Chagos Island group (south of the Maldives in the Indian Ocean) – a population dating back three or four generations to the 18th century – in order to enable the USA to build a strategic military base there. The islanders were dumped in the main town of Mauritius where they found it practically impossible to fit in and in effect a population of 2,000 pined, declined and gave in to what they call Sadness. For over two decades they have been fighting to expose the British callousness and cover-up and despite conclusive victories in the courts they are still being kept in sad exile.

After the screening we heard from Olivier Bancoult, who is leading the islanders’ struggle for justice, driven by his indefatigable mother and her generation of women, well represented in Stealing a Nation; the British lawyer featured in the film who is championing the case and the barrister, Maya Lester, a friend of my best friend; and the producer Chris Martin (not of Coldplay fame). Had a chat with Chris after the discussion about the impact of the decline of ITV on documentary making and the opportunities of interactive networked media to build up the audience and impact of this kind of campaigning film.

The need to be in touch with your native soil is critical for Happiness and you could really feel the pain of seperation in the film. The saddest thing is you can see how the British government can string this out for a few more years and watch the native Chagosians die off, putting significantly more distance between the islanders and their motherland.

 You can find out about this appalling story at the UK Chagos Support Association website.

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4 comments so far

  1. Fletcher on

    Great documentray and its good to see that people are taking notice of this injustice. There is a DVD available of this film which was produced in Australia. You can find out more about the DVD through this website

    http://www.dv1.com.au/ftproot/scripts/tp_CatalogueDetail.asp?q=58

    Highly recommended viewing

    Like

  2. aarkangel on

    How did you come across the film?
    There was a screening in London recently attended by the film’s producer (Chris Martin) and the leader of the Chagossian campaigning group (Olivier Bancoult)
    check out http://moblog.co.uk/view.php?id=190790

    Like

  3. Oliver Doward on

    You can also buy the film in the UK from John Pilger’s website…

    http://www.johnpilger.com/page.asp?partid=146

    And all Pilger’s articles on Diego Garcia are in the Article archive section.

    Like

  4. music on

    I like!

    Like


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