Justice for the Chagos islanders

This 30 April 2019 video says about itself:

Where We Belong is a short documentary film on the Chagossian community who were forcibly driven out of their archipelago between 1965 and 1973 by the UK government.

The Chagos Islands, found in the Indian Ocean, is now used for a U.S military base.

Recently, the International Court of Justice have issued an advisory opinion and concluded that “the United Kingdom is under an obligation to bring to an end its administration of the Chagos Archipelago as rapidly as possible”.

“Where We Belong” is the story of the Chagossians women and men who are still fighting for their rights and can never forget their “Paradise Island”.

This short documentary film was written and produced by Tricia Sunassee, BA (Hons) Advertising, Public Relations and Media, Middlesex University Mauritius.

From daily News Line in Britain:

Free the Chagos Islands – Britain’s own Guantánamo Bay!

24th May 2019

ON WEDNESDAY the General Assembly of the United Nations delivered a stunning vote which overwhelmingly condemned the continuing occupation of the Chagos Islands.

By 116 votes to 6 the nations of the UN voted to support a motion demanding that Britain leaves the Chagos Island chain within a deadline of six months to complete this process of ‘decolonisation’. This vote upheld the earlier ruling by the International Court of Justice which found that the islands were under ‘illegal occupation’.

The six countries supporting continuing British occupation were [the United States of] America, Israel, Hungary, Australia and the Maldives; a further 56 countries abstained including France, Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal, Poland and Romania while the rest of the EU nations voted against Britain.

The overwhelming vote was a massive blow to not just Britain but to the US which has been engaged in a massive campaign of diplomatic pressure on countries to vote against the motion put forward by Mauritius.

The reason for their frantic round of arm-twisting is the fact that the largest of the Chagos Islands, Diego Garcia, has long been the main base for US military forces and armed interventions in the region.

In 1965 Britain, under the Labour government of Harold Wilson, ‘purchased’ the Chagos Islands from Mauritius for £3million (re-naming the islands British Indian Ocean Territory – BIOT) with the threat that if they didn’t agree to the sale then Britain would deny Mauritius independence.

Having taken control through blackmail, the British commenced to ethnically cleanse every island of its indigenous population. Between 1967 and 1973 British troops brutally evicted the islands’ entire population to make way for a joint military base with the US.

Every Chagossian was shipped off to Mauritius, and to make sure they went their farms were burnt down, their animals slaughtered and they were sent packing with a warning that if they tried to return they would face the same fate.

Before Wednesday’s vote, Mauritian Prime Minister Pravid Kumar Jug-Nauth told the General Assembly the forcible eviction of Chagossians was akin to a crime against humanity.

Immediately after this crime against humanity Britain handed over Diego Garcia to US imperialism to build its biggest war base. While nominally under the control of the British it is a US controlled military base, home to dozens of US ships and nuclear armed bombers as well as being a main ‘intelligence and surveillance’ and torture site.

US planes have been sent from the base to bomb Afghanistan and Iraq. The facility was also reportedly used as a ‘black site’ by the CIA to interrogate terrorism suspects. In 2016, the lease for the base was extended until 2036.

The response of the British Foreign Office to this massive defeat at the UN was to insist that it stood shoulder to shoulder with the United States.

It stated: ‘As the US government has made clear, the status of BIOT as a UK territory is essential to the value of the joint facility and our shared interests – an arrangement that cannot be replicated.’

It is essential to US imperialism as a base from which to launch more wars against its enemies in the Middle East such as Iran while China is also in easy reach.

The British working class owe a huge debt to the Chagossian people for the crimes committed by the past Labour governments of Wilson, crimes that were perpetuated under Tony Blair whose government allowed all the torture and illegal rendition carried out by the CIA, denying that this existed until the evidence became overwhelming.

At last year’s TUC conference, Chagossians lobbied demanding the trade union movement support their right to return to their homeland – the support they received must now be translated into action.

Workers must demand that the TUC act by putting an end to this collapsed Tory government and bringing in a workers government that will return all the Islanders back to their homes, with massive compensation for their nearly 50 years of forced exile, and that will recognise their Independent Republic of the Chagos Islands. Only a workers government can undo the dirty work of the Wilson government!

LABOUR leader Jeremy Corbyn condemned the government today for its “shameful” failure to return the Chagos Islands to Mauritius. In May the United Nations gave Britain six months to give up control of the overseas territory following a ruling from the International Court of Justice (ICJ) that the decolonisation of Mauritius was not “lawfully completed”: here.

UK trade unions must take action to end the UK’s criminal treatment of Chagossians – they must be allowed to return home: here.

1 thought on “Justice for the Chagos islanders

  1. THE UK committed ‘crimes against humanity’ by refusing to allow Chagos Islanders to return to their homes on the Chagos Islands, which is now a giant US airbase and torture centre.

    Britain continued to defy the demand to return the Islanders despite a ruling earlier this year by the United Nation’s highest court.

    Britain’s behaviour is ‘stubborn and shameful’, the prime minister of Mauritius, Pravind Jugnauth, told the BBC.

    He added that he was exploring the possibility of bringing charges of crimes against humanity against individual British officials at the International Criminal Court (ICC).

    ‘It is a violation of the basic principle of human rights. I fail to understand why Britain, this government, is being so stubborn,’ said Jugnauth.

    Elderly Chagossians, living in Mauritius, have echoed that criticism and accused Britain of deliberately dragging its heels on the issue in the hope that the community will simply die out.

    Earlier this year, Mauritius won a major victory against Britain when the ICC in The Hague ruled – in an advisory opinion – that the Chagos Islands should be handed over to Mauritius in order to complete its ‘decolonisation’.

    The United Nations General Assembly then voted to give Britain a six-month deadline to begin that process. Britain has steadfastly refused to comply.

    It is half a century since Britain, under Harold Wilson’s government took control of the Chagos Islands from its then colony, Mauritius, and evicted the entire population of more than 1,000 people in order to make way for an American military base – part of a secret deal negotiated behind Mauritius’s back as it was seeking to secure independence from the UK.

    ‘Britain has been professing, for years, respect for the rule of law, respect for international law … but it is a pity the UK does not act fairly and reasonably and in accordance with international law on the issue of the Chagos archipelago,’ said Jugnauth.

    Philippe Sands, a lawyer representing the Mauritian government, said: ‘Britain is on the edge of finding itself as a pariah state.

    ‘We now have a situation where Chagossians – a deported population, want to go back and have a right to go back. And the UK is preventing them from going back.

    ‘Question – is that a crime against humanity? My response is that, arguably, it is.’

    Britain continues to insist that the ICC ruling is wrong. But it has apologised for its past treatment of the Chagossians and promised to hand the islands over to Mauritius when they are no longer needed for security purposes.

    The UK has also begun to take small groups of Chagossians back to the archipelago for brief ‘heritage’ visits.

    But in Mauritius, those tours have been condemned as a crude attempt to ‘divide and rule’ the Chagos community.

    ‘I boycott those trips. The British are trying to buy our silence. That’s why we say our dignity is not for sale,’ said Olivier Bancoult, who heads the Chagos Refugees Group.

    In a graveyard in the Mauritian capital, Port Louis, the graves of several Chagossians are marked with headstones mourning their failure to return to the islands.

    ‘I fear my wish will not come true before I die – to see my motherland again,’ reads the script beside the grave of Bancoult’s mother, Marie Rita Elysee Bancoult.

    ‘Every day, one by one, we’re dying. I believe the British are waiting for us to die so there will be no one to claim the islands,’ said Liseby Elyse, 66, who was 20 when she left the archipelago.

    ‘We’re like birds flying over the ocean, and we have nowhere to land.

    ‘We must keep flying until we die,’ said 81-year-old Samynaden Rosemond.



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