When we Chagossians lived on our islands, the seas and lagoons were pristine. When the Americans arrived, they caused massive environmental degradation, including bulldozing our villages and flattening graveyards. To create building materials, they started dynamiting the lagoon of Diego Garcia, killing fish and destroying large areas of coral reef.
For many years we have been pressing BIOT to conduct an environmental audit of the effects of the US occupation. This has been consistently refused, with the explanation that the impact of the occupation is minimal. We can now see that throughout this period there have been no controls on the pollution.
We are the real guardians of our homeland. Until we are allowed to return, we think that this degradation is bound to be permitted to continue.
The writer is chair of the Chagos Refugees Group UK Branch