When the UK Government ordered the deportation of Chagossians from the Chagos Islands in late sixties and early seventies, they lost all rights to their homeland. Although it did not exist at the time, this now includes the valuable “.io” domain name, associated with the British Indian Ocean Territory, the official name for the UK-controlled Indian Ocean Archipelago in which Chagossians had lived since the 18th century.
Now IT start-ups Seats.io and BigBoards.io are leading calls for various fellow companies using the domain name to back the Chagossian people’s fight for justice. This comes just weeks before the UK Government is committed to deciding on whether to support the Chagossian people’s long fight to return to the Islands.
Seats.io’s ‘Chief Everything Officer’ Ben Verbeken explains “We will launch ‘thedarksideof.io’ soon, where companies can pledge to match the cost of registering their ‘.io’ domain name with a donation to a Chagossian group or charity.” The site will also act to spread awareness of the ongoing suffering of Chagossians in exile.
The start-up firm chose to act after learning about the forced expulsion of the Chagossian people from their homes late last year, and its association with the .io domain name the company uses.
Mr Verbeken stated that “When we learned about the Chagossian people’s story, we had two choices. We could give up our domain name and change the name of our business. But we would just be running away from the problem. So we decided to accept our social responsibility and actually help the Chagossian people a bit.”
We agree with Mr Verbeken that the only long-term solution is “for control of the domain name and associated revenue to be returned the Islands’ native people.” As well as important finanical benefits which contribute to a vibrant returned Chagossian economy, this would have important symbolic significance.
For now, however, we encourage companies using the .io domain name to follow the fantastic example of Seats.io and BigBoards.io and get behind the campaign. With the Government committed to resolving the issue before the election there’s never been a better time to get behind the Chagossian fight for justice.
Look out for our full interview with Seats.io’s Ben Verbeken which will be published shortly.