Stealing a Nation

STEALING A NATION is an extraordinary film about the plight of people of the Chagos Islands in the Indian Ocean - secretly and brutally expelled from their homeland by British governments in the late 1960s and early 1970s, to make way for an American military base. The base, on the main island of Diego Garcia, was a launch pad for the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.

A remarkable dossier of evidence has been put together by Pilger and producer Chris Martin, all from official files, charting one of the most shocking conspiracies of modern times, which continues today.
Diego Garcia is America's largest military base in the world, outside the US. There are more than 4,000 troops, two bomber runways, thirty warships and a satellite spy station. The Pentagon calls it an 'indispensable platform' for policing the world.
Before the Americans came, more than 2,000 people lived on the islands, many with roots back to the late 18th century. There were thriving villages, a school, a hospital, a church, a railway and an undisturbed way of life. The islands were, and still are, a British crown colony. In the 1960s, the government of Harold Wilson struck a secret deal with the United States to hand over Diego Garcia. The Americans demanded that the islands be 'swept' and 'sanitized'. Unknown to Parliament and to the US Congress, the British government plotted with Washington to expel the entire population - in secrecy and in breach of the United Nations Charter.

'Pilger skilfully contrasts the desperate lives of those in exile with British and American government chiefs shamelessly spinning their side...Watch and be angry.' Daily Mirror

'Stealing a Nation provides an effective indictment of First World power politics. It is an expose well-supported by vintage film footage shot by missionaries as well as the British government... Pilger also justifies his claims with incriminating excerpts from de-classified British and U.S. government documents. Throughout the film, he puts a human face on the victims of this policy with personal testimonies and appalling photos of those who endured the ordeal... Highly recommended for ethics, political science, and contemporary issues courses.' Douglas Reed, Department of Political Science, Ouachita Baptist University, Educational Media Reviews Online

'A well-documented and shocking expose... Beginning with Pilger's onscreen position statement, the film makes no attempt to be evenhanded, but it doesn't have to be: reams and reams of secret government documents he digs up demonstrate an appalling disregard for humanity dating back to the 1960's... Recommended.' Video Librarian


Main credits

Pilger, John (film director)
Pilger, John (screenwriter)
Pilger, John (reporter)
Martin, Christopher (film director)
Martin, Christopher (film producer)

Other credits

Composer, Nick Russell-Pavier; cinematographer, Preston Clothier; editor, Joe Frost.

Docuseek2 subjects

Distributor subjects

Asian Studies
Foreign Policy, US
Human Rights
International Studies
Migration and Refugees
Political Science
Social Justice
War and Peace


John Pilger, British Government, Diego Garcia, US military base, Chagos Islands, Indian Ocean, Afghanistan, Iraq, British colony, Harold Wilson, United Nations Charter; "Stealing a Nation"; Bullfrog Films