Chagos islanders want to return home

This video says about itself:

John PilgerStealing A Nation [2004]

‘Stealing A Nation’ (2004) is an extraordinary film about the plight of the Chagos Islands, whose indigenous population was secretly and brutally expelled by British Governments in the late 1960s and early 1970s to make way for an American military base. The tragedy, which falls within the remit of the International Criminal Court as “a crime against humanity”, is told by Islanders who were dumped in the slums of Mauritius and by British officials who left behind a damning trail of Foreign Office documents.

Before the Americans came, more than 2,000 people lived on the islands in the Indian Ocean, 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 the main island of Diego Garcia. The Americans demanded that the surrounding islands be “swept” and “sanitized”. Unknown to Parliament and to the US Congress and in breach of the United Nations Charter, the British Government plotted with Washington to expel the entire population.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Chagossians resume battle for their Indian Ocean home

Monday 22nd June 2015

FORMER Chagos Islands residents, forcibly removed from their homeland more than 40 years ago, will take their long legal battle to Britain’s highest court today.

The Supreme Court will hear their challenge to a decision by the House of Lords which dashed hopes of a return home to the Indian Ocean islands, given over to a US air base.

In 2008, Law Lords overturned previous court decisions allowing islanders and their descendants to go back.

Olivier Bancoult, the Chagossian leader who has been fighting in the courts on behalf of the islanders, now argues that the three-to-two majority ruling in favour of the Foreign Secretary should be set aside.

Supreme Court rejects Chagos Islanders’ Right to Return: here.

15 thoughts on “Chagos islanders want to return home

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  6. Friday 18th November 2016

    posted by Peter Lazenby in Britain

    Refusal to let islanders go home ‘smacks of colonial arrogance’

    THE government faced a storm of criticism in the Commons yesterday after it ruled out allowing Indian Ocean islanders to return to the homeland from which Britain evicted them 53 years ago.

    In a decision which one MP described as a return to “arrogant colonial Britain,” the government announced on Wednesday that the Chagos Islanders must remain exiles for the rest of their lives.

    Between 1968 and 1973, the 2,300-strong population was removed to enable the United States to establish a military base on the main Chagos island of Diego Garcia.

    The US repaid the favour by letting Britain have the Polaris nuclear missile system at a knock-down price.

    In 1976, the islands were leased to the US for 50 years, with an option for a further 20.

    Today, Diego Garcia is occupied by about 3,200 US military and civilian personnel.

    The initial lease expired this year and the Chagossians are waging a legal battle to be allowed to return.

    Scattered communities of Chagossians live on the Indian Ocean islands of Mauritius and the Seychelles, while another community exists in Crawley, West Sussex.

    The government’s decision was debated in Parliament yesterday.

    Foreign Office Minister Sir Alan Duncan said the government’s decision was “final,” but that around £40 million would be provided to assist Chagossian exiles.

    Tory, Labour and SNP MPs condemned the refusal.

    Tory Andrew Rosindell said: “This decision continues to undermine the United Kingdom’s human rights record and the British sense of fair play.

    “British Chagossians should have the right of self-determination just as we afford to all of her majesty’s subjects, who rightly expect the protection of the crown which is being denied to them today.”

    SNP MP Peter Grant called the decision “a return to the days of the arrogant colonial Britain that should have
    been consigned to the dustbin of history 100 years ago.”

    Shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry said: “The treatment of the Chagos Islanders is a dark stain on our country’s history.

    “Yesterday’s decision and the way it was made has done nothing to remove that stain.”

    Ms Thornberry pledged that Labour would “never give up” on the Chagossians.”


  7. Friday 18th November 2016

    posted by Morning Star in Editorial

    COLONIAL arrogance runs through the Tories’ contemptuous dismissal of the Chagos Islanders’ demand to return to their homeland.

    Foreign Office Minister Sir Alan Duncan insists that the decision to rule out resettlement for people forced out to make way for the huge US airbase on the largest island, Diego Garcia, is “final,” but that decision is not his. It is proper to the Chagossians who are the final arbiters over whether they will bow the knee to this historical injustice.

    They have shown no sign of doing so thus far and growing numbers of MPs from all sides are speaking out in their support. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has consistently supported the Chagossian cause and set up the Chagos Islands all-party parliamentary group in 2008 with Liberal Democrat peer Lord Avebury.

    He has constantly voiced his conviction that return is not only possible but must be delivered urgently to right a wrong.

    How can any politician or voter with a sense of honour sleep easily in the knowledge that the islands were handed over to Washington for its base in return for Britain receiving a discount on what it paid the US for its Polaris nuclear weapons system?

    Does Duncan’s assertion that the government does not “consider that the right of self-determination actually applies to the Chagossians” cause a shiver of unease? His supplementary claim that the issue is “one of sustainability and viability,” which would present exorbitant costs to the Exchequer, sets new limits for hypocrisy. A government that proclaims its undying attachment to human rights while sticking rigidly to this injustice deserves to have its credibility questioned.

    Shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry’s characterisation of the treatment of Chagossians as “a dark stain on our country’s history” and her commitment that Labour will “never give up” on their right to return will encourage the islanders to continue hoping that justice may yet prevail.


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