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British deal with US over Chagos Islands not its finest hour | UK News



It was not Britain’s finest hour.  In the mid-60s Harold Wilson wanted Polaris missiles, the US sought a base in the middle of the Indian Ocean.  

A deal was done. Britain was to detach a bunch of islands from other oceanic territory and together with the Americans build a military base on one of them, Diego Garcia.

There was a catch though. Between 1,500 and 2,000 catches. People who had lived there, for a few generations at least.

In a dispatch revealed by Wikileaks decades later one British official described them as “Tarzans and Men Fridays”.

There were efforts to entice them off the islands, including apparently an effort to kill their pet dogs. And through a mixture of subterfuge and coercion they were cleared off the archipelago.

They have lived ever since as second class citizens in Mauritius and some of them in the UK.

Because they had not owned property at least on the islands, living in accommodation given them by absentee landlords, instead their compensation if any was less than generous.

An undated file photo shows Diego Garcia, the largest island in the
Chagos archipelago and site of a major United States military base in
the middle of the Indian Ocean leased from Britain in 1966.
Up to 2,000 people were moved off the island

They have campaigned ever since for the right to return. It has been a tortuously protracted battle but one that is now beginning to pay off.

And they have gathered more and more support in higher and higher places.

Welcoming the news from the UN General Assembly, MP Andrew Rosindell, for instance tweeted: “The outer islands of Chagos are a long way from Diego Garcia and that is where the dispossessed Chagosian people would like to return to – it is feasible for this to happen and the UK should end this shameful episode and allow them to return to their homeland!”

The vote in the UN GA is not binding but it puts greater pressure on the UK to hand over the Chagos Islands, including Diego Garcia to Mauritius.

The UK insists the archipelago was never a part of the Mauritius, because it was carved off before Mauritian independence.

Britain says its sovereignty goes back to 1814 and points out that the decision in 1965 to divide it from other territory was agreed with Mauritius in return for fishing and other rights.

And the UK insists the continued existence of the military base is vital for allied interests, to “combat conflict terrorism, drugs, crime and piracy” in the words of British ambassador to the UN Karen Pierce.

Air offensives on Iraq and Afghanistan have been launched from the base and it is thought to play an important role as a listening station for intelligence purposes.

Britain is not about to surrender its claim and let the islanders return. But critics say it shows the UK’s waning diplomatic influence and America’s too.

DATE IMPORTED:22 October, 2008A demonstrator demanding her return to the Chagos Islands in the Diego Garcia archipelago shouts during a protest outside the Houses of Parliament in London October 22, 2008. Britain's highest court ruled in favour of the British government on Wednesday, blocking the return of hundreds of Chagos Island people to their homes in the south Indian Ocean after nearly 40 years of exile. The decision by the House of Lords ends a years-long battle to secure the Chagos Islan
A demonstration took place in London in 2008 demanding the islands be handed back

European allies who might in the past have supported the British case abstained. Only Hungary, Israel, the US, Australia and the Maldives voted with the UK.

For all the emotion surrounding the case, legally it boils down to two competing arguments.

Britain’s critics say it is a question of decolonisation, a bit of unfinished British imperial business receiving its just desserts.

The UK says it is a matter of sovereignty that should be resolved bilaterally between itself and Mauritius and the vote sets an unfortunate precedent.

If the UN were able to adjudicate issues of sovereignty around the world by general assembly vote it is argued any number of territorial disputes could be reopened with the potential for renewed conflict and destabilisation.

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Flight MH17: Four charged with murder over downing of Malaysia Airlines jet | World News



Four men have been charged with murder over the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, which killed 298 passengers and crew.

Almost five years after the Boeing 777 jet was shot down above eastern Ukraine on 17 July 2014, an international team of investigators announced that three Russians and a Ukrainian were to be “held accountable” for transporting the missile system used to its launch site.

The three Russians were named as former Igor Girkin, 48, Sergey Dubinskiy, 56, and Oleg Pulatov, 52, while the other man was identified as 47-year-old Leonid Kharchenko.

Part of the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 at the crash site in the village of Hrabove (Grabovo), some 80km east of Donetsk
Part of the Flight MH17 at the crash site in the village of Hrabove, some 80km east of Donetsk

Girkin is a former colonel of the FSB, the Russian security service, Dubinskiy was once employed by GRU, the Russian military intelligence service, and Pulatov is an ex-soldier of the Spetznaz, the GRU special forces. Kharchenko is the only suspect with no military background.

The international team of detectives and prosecutors investigating the crash said the men had “co-operated closely” to obtain the weaponry – a 9M38 variant of the Buk missile system used by Russia – and position it in advance of it striking the passenger plane, which was heading from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.

Speaking at a news conference at The Hague, Dutch police chief Wilbert Paulissen said their murder trial would begin at the same court on 9 March 2020 – although the men are unlikely to appear as their countries do not recognise extradition requests and are unlikely to co-operate with the investigation.

Chief prosecutor Fred Westerbeke said the failure by Russia to aid the investigation was a “slap in the face” to the families of those who died.

“We have established that there has been involvement of the Russian Federation because they made available the missile that was used to shoot down MH17,” he said.

“The Russian federation has not disclosed anything that happened and that is a slap in the face for all the relatives of the victims, and I call out to them to start co-operating.”

The plane was heading to Kuala Lumpur from Amsterdam

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Wednesday that Moscow did not trust the investigation, but claimed that there had been a willingness to help.

He told reporters ahead of the news conference: “Russia was unable to take part in the investigation despite an interest right from the start and trying to join in.”

A pro-Russian separatist stands at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, near the village of Hrabove (Grabovo) in Donetsk region, Ukraine
Potential suspects include rebel forces in the area

Relatives of the victims were briefed on the updates provided in the news conference beforehand.

Silene Fredriksz-Hoogzand, whose son Bryce and his girlfriend Daisy Oehlers were among those killed, hailed the charges for the four suspects as a “good start”.

She said: “This is what we hoped for. This is a start of it. It is a good start.”

Mr Paulissen said more suspects could be identified at a later date, including those “higher up the chain of command”, but added that there is not yet sufficient evidence to do so.

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Girl, 10, is youngest person to climb 7,500ft El Capitan | US News



A 10-year-old girl has made rock climbing history by becoming the youngest person on record to scale Yosemite’s iconic El Capitan.

Selah Schneiter, from Colorado, climbed the 7,500ft (1,100 metre) route – known as The Nose – over five days with her father Mike, an experienced climber, and a family friend.

She reached the summit on 12 June after using a rope climbing technique known as jumaring to tackle the famously steep rock formation.

After reaching the top of the granite monolith in central California, Selah celebrated her feat with a pizza.

The 10-year-old used a rope climbing technique known as jumaring

“I just can’t believe I just did that,” she said in a video captured after her impressive achievement.

“Our big motto was ‘How do you eat an elephant?’ Small bites. One pitch at a time, one move at a time, one day at a time,” she told KFSN in Fresno.

Few adults can say they have successfully reached El Capitan’s zenith, with many experienced climbers considering The Nose to be the most iconic big-wall climb in the world.

Saleh’s father said she was in shock on reaching the peak.

Revealing she broke down in tears, Mr Schneiter said: “She said it was her first happy tears she’s ever had.

“We were tired after a long five days and camped out that night, but she was like a little kid again and wanted to check everything out, exploring almost like it was nothing.”

He said they spent time on ledges throughout the climb “just relaxing… talking about the world… talking about life”.

El Capitan is a vertical rock formation in Yosemite National Park
El Capitan is a vertical rock formation in Yosemite National Park

Selah comes from a family of hiking enthusiasts who have developed a special connection to Yosemite’s trails.

Mr Schneiter, a climbing instructor, claims to have met his daughter’s mother, Joy, while hiking in the region years prior.

Selah is now encouraging her seven-year-old brother to follow in her footsteps.

In 2017, American rock climber Alex Honnold became the first person to scale El Capitan without ropes or safety equipment.

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Mines used in tanker attacks 'strikingly' like Iran's, US says



Pieces of mines recovered after attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman “strikingly” resemble Iranian mines, the US navy has said.

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