Indian Ocean islands' decolonization dispute gets day in international court

Sabrina Jeans father was 17 in the late 1960s when he boarded a boat for Port Louis, Mauritius, for medical treatment. It was a journey of more than 1,000 miles from his home in the Chagos Islands, a British territory smack in the middle of the Indian Ocean. But when he tried to return, he was turned away and would never live in the Chagos again. The islands had been caught up in a cold-war security deal to create a US military base, which operates there to this day. And the Chagoss small population people one British official in the 1960s called Tarzans and Man Fridays was forcibly removed. Last week, the International Court of Justice held hearings for a sovereignty dispute over the Chagos, with allegations that Britain unlawfully separated the islands away from Mauritius, a former British colony, just before independence. For Chagossians alive today, and their descendants, the case offers hope they could go home. But its influence could go beyond the islands. If Mauritius wins, it will assist in furthering arguments around the global right to self-determination and decolonization, says Allan Ngari, a researcher at the Institute for Security Studies in South Africa.

Johannesburg, South Africa

In the memories of the elders, passed down over bowls of coconut and octopus stew in the shacks of the Mauritian capital, Port Louis, the Chagos Islands were paradise.

They spoke of palm trees bowing their fronds over white sand beaches, and Indian Ocean water so brightly turquoise it....

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