New negotiations on the Falklands are apparently ruled out because their future “can only be decided by the islanders in accordance with the UN principle of self-determination” (Hand back the Falklands, Argentina tells Cameron, 3 January).
Can we expect the government to follow the same principle on the rights of the Chagos people in relation to their Diego Garcia home? They are British citizens, roughly the same number as inhabit the Falkland Islands, and had lived in Diego Garcia since the 18th century. Their expulsion followed the purchase of their islands in 1965 by the UK in order to provide the US with a military airbase.
Despite every legal effort on their behalf they have been prevented ever since from returning home. A referendum among them would certainly produce a similar result as that among the Falkland Islanders will no doubt shortly demonstrate.
Why should the Chagos Islanders be treated differently? One could infer that the imposed absence from their home, in stark contrast to undertaking a huge military effort in the South Atlantic to maintain the Falkland Islanders in theirs, has its roots in their different origins.
• History teaches many things, not least the importance of applying perspective over long periods of time. In calling Britain’s original settlement of the Falklands “a blatant exercise in 19th-century colonialism”, has Argentina’s president not noticed the delicious irony when her country is itself a blatant exercise in 16th-century colonialism?
• Surely anyone familiar with the work of Steve Bell knows that the time is long overdue to hand the Falklands to their rightful owners – the penguins.