CHAGOS, LIVING LIES

SOUVIENS-TOI DE DIEGO GARCIA

By Pamella SOUBHANG

ARTLINE FILMS - as PROD

Documentary - Development 2015

After a chance meeting in London, a Mauritian woman learns that the theft of her house hid the real theft of a nation.

    • Year of production
    • 2015
    • Genres
    • Documentary, Historical, First film
    • Countries
    • FRANCE
    • Languages
    • FRENCH, ENGLISH
    • Duration
    • 52 mn
    • Director(s)
    • Pamella SOUBHANG
    • Writer(s)
    • Pamella SOUBHANG
    • Producer(s)
    • Olivier MILLE (Artline Films)
    • Synopsis
    • Pamella Soubhang is a Mauritius filmmaker whose family story is connected with the oppression of another people, the Chagossians, the people who were forcibly removed from
      Diego Garcia by Britain and the US.
      One week after her birth, in 1973, the Chagossians were dumped on the Mauritius Island and dispossessed Pamella’s family from their home.
      Forty years later, Pamella came across Raymonde, the matriarch of a Chagossian family living in exile in London. She learnt that Raymonde’s family had not stolen her house, contrary to what she had been led to believe, but were settled there by the Mauritian Government. In exchange for their independence Mauritius lent the Chagos Archipelago, which was part of its territory, to the UK. And in exchange for a deal with the Polaris missiles, the UK passed on the Chagos to the US. The archipelago then had to be emptied of all humans to make way for what became the most important American-British military base in the Indian Ocean.
      Moreover, the Chagossians had to be removed from all memory, including school books. Mauritius, the US and the UK therefore created a long-winded fiction, which fooled the world, including the UN, into thinking that they were entitled to build a base on a deserted archipelago.
      This deal agreement has a fifty-year term. Signed in 1965, it expires in 2016.
      The Chagossians still dream of returning to their ‘paradise’ islands. However, Pamella’s enquiries brought her to another astonishing discovery. Until the deportation of 1973, the Chagossians were slaves. The testimonies shook Pamella, a slave descendant herself, whipped, imprisoned, and head-shaved by her father as a child. She understands that the behaviour of her father was the result of decades of slavery he carried on his shoulders.
      Everything Pamella thought she knew about her country or about the human rights legislations was fiction.
      Will she manage to pass on her history to her son without this heavy burden and to break the cycle of violence?
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