Don’t Say, ‘What Can I Do?’

John Pilger writes

Lisette Talate died the other day. I remember a wiry, fiercely intelligent woman who masked her grief with a determination that was a presence. She was the embodiment of people’s resistance to the war on democracy. I first glimpsed her in a 1950s Colonial Office film about the Chagos islanders, a tiny creole nation living midway between Africa and Asia in the Indian Ocean. The camera panned across thriving villages, a church, a school, a hospital, set in a phenomenon of natural beauty and peace. Lisette remembers the producer saying to her and her teenage friends, “Keep smiling girls!”

Sitting in her kitchen in Mauritius many years later, she said, “I didn’t have to be told to smile. I was a happy child, because my roots were deep in the islands, my paradise. My great-grandmother was born there; I made six children there. That’s why they couldn’t legally throw us out of our own homes; they had to terrify us into leaving or force us out. At first, they tried to starve us. The food ships stopped arriving [then] they spread rumours we would be bombed, then they turned on our dogs.”

In the early 1960s, the Labour government of Harold Wilson secretly agreed to a demand from Washington that the Chagos archipelago, a British colony, be “swept” and “sanitised” of its 2,500 inhabitants so that a military base could be built on the principal island, Diego Garcia. “They knew we were inseparable from our pets,” said Lisette, “When the American soldiers arrived to build the base, they backed their big trucks against the brick shed where we prepared the coconuts; hundreds of our dogs had been rounded up and imprisoned there. Then they gassed them through tubes from the trucks’ exhausts. You could hear them crying.”

Lisette and her family and hundreds of islanders were forced on to a rusting steamer bound for Mauritius, a distance of 2,500 miles. They were made to sleep in the hold on a cargo of fertiliser: bird shit. The weather was rough; everyone was ill; two women miscarried. Dumped on the docks at Port Louis, Lizette’s youngest children, Jollice, and Regis, died within a week of each other. “They died of sadness,” she said. “They had heard all the talk and seen the horror of what had happened to the dogs. They knew they were leaving their home forever. The doctor in Mauritius said he could not treat sadness.”


This invisible state allowed the Blair government to fight the Chagos islanders as they rose from their despair in exile and demanded justice in the streets of Port Louis and London. “Only when you take direct action, face to face, even break laws, are you ever noticed,” said Lisette. “And the smaller you are, the greater your example to others.” Such an eloquent answer to those who still ask, “What can I do?”

I last saw Lisette’s tiny figure standing in driving rain alongside her comrades outside the Houses of Parliament. What struck me was the enduring courage of their resistance. It is this refusal to give up that rotten power fears, above all, knowing it is the seed beneath the snow.

The full story at Global Research.

TAP – The disgusting way Britain treated people around the world, acting as America’s Lackeys is totally shameful. We are today even more the lackeys of the greatest destroyers of human life and contentment known throughout history. Yet through the unwillingness of any communicators to tell the truth as it really is, very few in Britain have any idea.

The Tap Blog is a collective of like-minded researchers and writers who’ve joined forces to distribute information and voice opinions avoided by the world’s media.

5 Responses to “Don’t Say, ‘What Can I Do?’”

  1. wasp says:

    John Pilger as always, gives the straight facts with no pussy footing.

    He always cuts the meat away from the bone, to reveal it’s ‘True Shape & Identity.’ Revealing Wilson’s & other like Politicians Duplicity. Thus revealing them for the ‘TRUE SCUMBAGS THEY ARE’


  2. Julia says:

    Big fan of John Pilger too. He is definitely one of our great leaders in the world today. Slightly off subject…. I am seriously going off groups and movements. They always seem to get hijacked as soon as some critical mass of people put their faith in the name of the group, it’s brand, it’s identity. Whereas individuals such as John pilger, you just know he is still John pilger, no change of personnel behind the brand. There is a lesson in there Tap, to keep the personal touch on the blog!

  3. Road_Hog says:

    I’d known about what happened to the people of the Chagos islands.

    But I didn’t know of what happened to their dogs/pets.

    If someone did that to my dog, I’d hunt them down until my dying day and kill them.

    Anyone that has owned a dog and cared for it (not a working dog), will understand this.

  4. Tapestry says:

    Road Hog, you just declared war on the United States Armed Forces.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.