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.

Chagos Islands ethnic cleansing, justice at last?

This 25 February 2019 video from Britain says about itself:

Afshin Rattansi goes over how the UK ethnically cleansed the island of Diego Garcia in the Chagos Archipelago.

Translated from daily News Line in Britain:

Wednesday, 27 February 2019

Corbyn must pledge that the Chagos Islanders will return home under a Labour government

A UN COURT has ruled the UK must return Diego Garcia and the Chagos Islands, which it found were under illegal UK occupation and which host a major US military base on Diego Garcia, to Mauritius ‘as rapidly as possible’.

The islands were ethnically cleansed of their inhabitants under the Wilson Labour government in 1968 to make way for a major US nuclear naval base and later for a US torture centre. The residents were shipped off to Mauritius, and to encourage them to go, 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.

The issue of who holds the sovereignty of the islands, located more than 2,000 miles off the east coast of Africa, will now be debated by the United Nations General Assembly – which referred the case to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) despite London’s hysterical protests.

The ICJ judgement is that: ‘The United Kingdom is under an obligation to bring an end to its administration of the Chagos Archipelago as rapidly as possible, thereby enabling Mauritius to complete the decolonisation of its territory in a manner consistent with the right of peoples to self-determination.’

Carl Schuster, a former director of operations at the US Pacific Command’s Joint Intelligence Centre, said: ‘Everything boils down to what Britain does. If it transfers the islands to Mauritius – and it has a history of obeying these rulings – then it’s up to Mauritius. If they say the existing agreement is no longer valid, then the US will have to renegotiate.’

In a statement following the ICJ verdict, Mauritian Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth urged the UK to ‘respect’ the court’s ‘clear, precise and very strong opinion.’ A representative for the UK’s Foreign Office said in a statement that ‘this is an advisory opinion, not a judgement.’

The Chagos Islanders, with thousands living in exile in England and Mauritius, have not been consulted about the future of their islands. They were forced out of their homes into exile while the islands were handed over ‘nominally’ to Mauritius, before being handed back to the UK in the form of the British Indian Ocean Territory.

Mauritius was a British colony from 1810 until 1968, when it achieved independence from London and became a republic. Several years before independence, the UK began talks with the US on the ‘strategic use of certain small, British-owned islands in the Indian Ocean’ for defence purposes.

The ICJ said: ‘During these talks, the United States expressed an interest in establishing a military communication facility on Diego Garcia.’ The Wilson Labour government decided that as part of the ‘decolonisation process’, as well as ‘ethnic cleansing’, the Chagos Archipelago would become a separate colony, without any people (the British Indian Ocean Territory) on which the massive US base was built.

Representatives of Mauritius agreed to the separation. Central to the work was the expulsion of the entire population of the Chagos Islands a situation the UK has since admitted ‘was shameful and wrong’.

In the 1980s, the UK paid an estimated $5.2 million to more than 1,300 evicted islanders, on the condition they sign or place a thumbprint on a form renouncing their right to return to the Chagos Archipelago. This was an offer that they could not refuse.

But this offer was never accepted by the Chagossians who are now rightfully demanding their right to return to their independent Chagos homeland and that the US base be closed.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn commented yesterday that ‘over 40 years ago the Chagos Islanders were disgracefully forced from their homes by the UK government – to make way for a US military base. ‘It’s fantastic to see the (ICJ) take crucial steps to correct this injustice and uphold the right of the Chagossians to return home.’

However, it is in the UK that the real action must take place. Corbyn must now pledge that a Labour governent will return all the Islanders back to their homes, with massive compensation for their nearly 50 years of forced exile, and that the UK recognises their Independent Republic of the Chagos Islands.

Britain rejects International Court of Justice order to return Chagos Islands to Mauritius: here.

British deportation of Chagos islanders is illegal

Generations of Chagos Islanders occupied Trafalgar Square for a week last July – in light of The Hague ruling they reaffirm their right to return

From daily News Line in Britain:

Tuesday, 26 February 2019

The Hague rules UK must ‘relinquish Chagos ASAP’

THE INTERNATIONAL Court of Justice (ICJ) known as ‘the Hague’ ruled yesterday that Britain’s ‘decolonisation and displacement’ of the Chagos Islanders from the Indian Ocean Archipelago was ‘unlawful’.

Judges ruled that Britain should relinquish control over the territory ‘as soon as possible’. The case, brought by Mauritius, ruled on the legal consequences of the separation of the Chagos Archipelago from Mauritius in 1965.

Although the decision is a ‘non-binding advisory opinion’, reading a summary of a the 14-member tribunal’s decision, Presiding Judge Abdulqawi Yusuf said Britain was ‘under obligation to bring to an end the administration of Chagos Islands as rapidly as possible’.

During court hearings, Mauritius said it had been forced to give up the remote archipelago to gain independence from Britain during the decolonisation process. Britain maintained that Mauritius had given up the islands willingly.

After gaining the islands in the early 1960s, Britain evicted almost 2,000 residents to Mauritius and the Seychelles to make way for the US military base on the island of Diego Garcia.

Between 1968 and 1973 around 2,000 Chagos islanders were forcibly evicted from the island, their pets killed in front of them, with the British invaders burning their homes to the ground to make the island uninhabitable. They were forced onto ships and dumped in the slums of Mauritius and the Seychelles.

The Chagos people were described in a British diplomatic cable at the time as a ‘few Tarzans and Man Fridays’. Today around 10,000 Chagossians and their descendants are divided among Mauritius, the Seychelles and Britain. They demand the right to return to their island and appropriate compensation for the suffering of themselves, their families and their descendants.

Isabelle Charlot, Chairperson Chagos Islanders Movement, told News Line yesterday afternoon: ‘This is a step forwards for our Chagos people to go back to our homeland. However, we are disappointed because we thought the judges would use their knowledge and wisdom to give the right to the Chagossians to decide what they want.

‘This should have been about the Chagossians more, but again it is about politics. We are being neglected and forgotten again. Can we trust the Mauritius government? Will they let us back to our island, will they return Chagos to the Chagossian? Will Great Britain honour what has been advised by the Hague? We are going to keep fighting until we return. The fight continues!’

This video from Mauritius says about itself:

Demonstration against UK occupation of Chagos

Event: Peaceful march.

Date: Wednesday, 7 April, 2010.

March co-ordinator: LALIT.

Main purpose: To denounce the British government.

Also: To put on the agenda once again the original demands for full decolonization, the re-unification of Mauritius, for base closure and environmental clean-up, and for the right to return and reparations for all Chagossians.

What this means is that the march is perhaps the beginning of a new long-term campaign that needs to be built up on these issues.

By Sam Tobin in Britain:

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Imperialism The fight is not over yet for Chagos Islanders

CHAGOS ISLANDERS have been granted further grounds to judicially review a decision banning them from returning to their homeland.

About 2,300 people were removed from the British-controlled Indian Ocean islands in the 1960s and 1970s to make way for a US air force base on the largest of the islands, Diego Garcia. In return, Britain got a discount on Polaris nuclear weapons.

Chagos Refugees Group chairman Olivier Bancoult has been battling to win legal redress for decades.

Both he and Solange Hoareau were previously granted a judicial review of Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson’s decision in November 2016 to not assist or permit resettlement.

Ms Hoareau sought permission today to appeal against the decision on the grounds that it was in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). She also raised a complaint that Mr Johnson had not given due regard to claims that the Chagossians are a distinct racial group.

Mr Johnson denied that European human rights law applied as the ECHR had not been extended to the islands, but Ben Jaffey QC, for Ms Hoareau, told the High Court that Britain “exercises total physical control” over the islands. He also submitted that Ms Hoareau was a “victim” of the government’s decision.

Kieron Beal QC, for Mr Johnson, said that the removal of the Chagossians in the 1970s was “incapable of justification”, but he maintained that the government’s position was that it was not “appropriate to sponsor or promote or permit” resettlement.

Mr Justice Singh ruled that there was an “arguable case” on both grounds and granted permission for a judicial review, which is expected to be heard in May.

Many Chagossians live in Mauritius and the Seychelles, while another community centres on Crawley, West Sussex. Tory MP for Crawley Henry Smith introduced a Bill last week that calls for anyone of Chagossian descent to be granted British citizenship.

Chagos islanders demonstrate against British government

Hundreds of Chagossians rally outside the Foreign Office in London, condemning the British government for preventing them from returning home to the Chagos Islands

From daily News Line in Britain:

Friday, 16 December 2016


SOME 100 Chagossians demonstrated opposite Downing Street yesterday over their treatment by the British government.

Frankie Bontemps told News Line: ‘We’re here following the decision of the British government that we are not allowed to go back to our homeland. We are back to square one. For 50 years we have been fighting for the right to return. The government decided without consulting us. Enough is enough.

‘We are fed up. There are so many problems facing the Chagossians in the UK. We have people in prison because of the immigration laws – families are divided. There are a lot of housing and citizenship issues. The Chagos Islands are an exceptional case and we should have exceptional treatment.

‘This can’t go on. We want a pension for the natives. If they won’t let us return at least they should treat us properly here.’

The UN General Assembly has backed a resolution to refer the legal status of the Chagos Islands, including Diego Garcia, to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) at The Hague: here.

SUPREME Court rejection of the latest appeal by Chagos Islanders against the British government’s continued denial of their right of return to their homeland is beyond comprehension: here.

Chagos Islander denied his right to UK citizenship: here.

OVER 50 exiled Chagossians living in the UK camped out in Trafalgar Square yesterday, the first day of a five-day occupation: here.

NEXT week the British government will be hauled kicking and screaming before judges at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague over the despicable treatment of the Chagos Islanders at the hands of British and US imperialism: here.

Chagos Islanders protest at the Hague: here.


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.

Chagos Islands, illegal fishing and war

This video from Britain is called My Island Home – Chagos Islands.

From Wildlife Extra:

Illegal fishing inside Chagos Marine Reserve

Greenpeace finds illegal fishing vessels & urges UK to enforce Chagos marine reserve

October 2012. Greenpeace found two illegal Sri Lankan fishing boats inside the Chagos Marine Reserve and has called on the UK government to enforce protection of this Indian Ocean reserve from pirate fishing.

Rainbow Warrior

The Greenpeace flagship Rainbow Warrior is currently transiting from Mauritius to the Maldives as part of its Indian Ocean expedition and found in total three fishing boats deep within the Chagos Marine Protected Area, established by the UK government in 2010.

Dozens of sharks & tuna

Onboard one vessel, identified as IMUL-A-0352KLT, Greenpeace found dozens of sharks, including thresher sharks, a protected species in this region. This boat is not on the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) list of registered vessels and is illegal. A second boat, identified as IMUL-A-12939MTR, was not on the IOTC list either and is illegal. Greenpeace also boarded that vessel, mainly finding skipjack tuna.

Gillnets and longlines

These fishing boats use indiscriminate gillnets and longlines to catch sharks, tuna and other marine life.

“We are demanding the UK government inspect these vessels and actively protect the marine reserve from illegal fishing. Without enforcement this protected area is not worth the paper it is written on,” said Greenpeace UK oceans campaigner Simon Clydesdale on board the Rainbow Warrior.

Greenpeace has given the details of the vessels to the regional authorities as well as the Foreign Office in London, urging Britain to send its patrol vessel the Pacific Marlin out from the nearby US military base Diego Garcia, where it was believed to be at anchor, to inspect the three vessels.

I mainly agree with this article. Yet, only this sentence of it deals with a problem even worse for the Chagos islands than illegal fishing: the Diego Garcia military base. To build that base, the inhabitants of the Chagos islands were forcibly driven away from their homeland; and they are still not allowed to return. Like military bases in general, that base is bad for the environment. Diego Garcia base has been used for torture. It has been used for war in Iraq, Afghanistan, etc. And now, it may be used for yet another bloody war against Iran (fortunately, the London and Washington governments do not seem to be on the same page yet about this; and I hope that they never will).

Greenpeace encountered a third vessel, identified as IMUL-A-0341KLT. This boat was authorised to fish in the region but not inside the Chagos protected area.

Illegal fishing is a massive problem in the Indian Ocean. It is stealing from coastal communities and plunders marine life such as sharks.

As I noted, in the Chagos islands, the “coastal communities”, the Chagos islanders, were forcibly driven away to build the military base.

Boats that repeatedly fail to comply with the rules must be stopped. Our oceans need fewer fishing vessels that are properly controlled if we are to reverse the current overfishing crisis,” said Greenpeace International oceans campaigner Sari Tolvanen.

Greenpeace is calling on key market players and tuna brands to ensure they have a traceable supply chain and only source tuna that is legal and comes from sustainable sources.

The Rainbow Warrior is continuing its mission in the Indian Ocean to highlight the problems associated with excessive tuna fishing, unsustainable fishing practices, and the need for countries to cooperate and ensure that communities will benefit from the wealth coming from the oceans in the future.

Torture island Diego Garcia

This video says about itself:

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.

From British daily News Line:

Tuesday, 4 August 2009


Legal charity Reprieve yesterday demanded the British government reveal details of the secret illegal detention of ‘ghost’ prisoner Mustafa Setmariam Naser on Diego Garcia and asked two UN Special Rapporteurs to urgently investigate his disappearance.

Reprieve said in a statement: ‘Mustafa Setmariam Naser was ‘disappeared’ while in US custody in 2005.

‘Reprieve has learned that he was sent to Syria, where he is held incommunicado in shocking conditions and almost certainly tortured.

‘It seems the US deliberately “disappeared” him to a rights-abusing regime once he stopped being useful for intelligence purposes.

‘The UK shares responsibility for Mr Naser’s disappearance because of its complicity in his “ghost” detention on Diego Garcia and elsewhere.’

More about Diego Garcia: here. And here.

US Military Expelled Some Diego Garcia Residents to Make Way for Military Base: here.

The British government is hiding behind a “wall of secrecy” over claims its agents were complicit in the torture of “terrorism” suspects, a parliamentary committee has said: here.

New Labour ministers have refused to give a cast-iron assurance that the British government will never collude with torture: here.

‘US and British governments embroiled in enforced disappearances’ – charges Reprieve: here.

A Window Into C.I.A.’s Embrace of Secret Jails: here.

Despite scant police evidence, the Australian media has universally depicted five Muslim men arrested on August 4 in the course of extensive police raids as guilty of an extraordinary plot to attack an army base: here.

LALIT calls for Diego Garcia military base Inspection by IAEA: here.

January 2010. One of the world’s largest coral atolls, which belongs to Britain, could soon become the biggest marine protected area on Earth. A three-month public consultation is underway to persuade Gordon Brown to protect the Chagos Archipelago a group of 55 tropical British islands, which lie in the heart of the Indian Ocean. 10,000 people have already signed up in support of the campaign: here.

Wildlife of the Chagos islands: here.

Conservationists want to turn archipelago into a giant sea-life reserve. But what about the exiled population whose hopes of going home would be dashed forever? Here.


UK: Brown continues Blair’s policies against Chagos islanders’ rights

This video is called Chagos: The Never-Ending Struggle.

From British daily News Line:

Brown refuses to meet Chagossians

The News Line is pleased to publish two important letters. These concern the decision of the Court of Appeal to uphold the decision of the High Court that the Chagos Islanders should have the right to return to the outer islands of the group, and the decision of the Brown government to continue with a third appeal against this decision, this time to the House of Lords.

The first letter is from the Chagos Islands Community Association to Prime Minister Brown and was delivered to Downing Street on June 29 just days after he took office as Premier:

Update 1 July 2008: here.

UK: Chagos islanders keep fighting for their rights

This video is about the Chagos Islands.

From British daily News Line:

Wednesday, 27 June 2007

Chagos Islanders head for 10 Downing Street

Chagos Islanders are angry that the Blair government, in its dying hours has appealed to the House of Lords against the recent Court of Appeal decision that they are able to return to a part of the Chagos Islands Group.

They were forcibly expelled from the Chagos Islands by the Wilson government so that Diego Garcia could be handed over to the US governent for a massive US naval and air base.

The House of Commons never voted on their eviction.

The ethnic cleansing was carried out by a special order in council signed by Elizabeth II.

On Friday, at 3pm, a delegation of Chagos Islanders will be delivering a letter to 10 Downing Street demanding that the new Prime Minister Brown withdraw the appeal to the House of Lords and makes arrangements for the islanders to be able to return to their homes.

Many Diego Garcians now live in Crawley in Sussex.

Some of them will be travelling up to Downing Street on Friday at 3pm.

Chairman of the Chagos Islanders Community Association, Hengride Permal told News Line yesterday: ‘We are going to bring a petition letter to Mr Brown because we think the British government is playing with us, especially now after the court judgement that we have the right to go back to the Chagos Islands.

‘This is the third time they have said they are going to appeal it and now they are going to appeal to the House of Lords.

‘It’s time for the government of Mr Brown to meet us face to face about what is going to happen to us and negotiate because we are not going to sit around and wait until they decide. The Chagossian people need action now.

‘A lot of the Chagossians have signed the petition letter and it’s about time that we had justice. It was Blair’s last decision as prime minister to appeal against the court decision.

‘Three times the court has judged that what they did to us was illegal and three times they have appealed. It’s very disrespectful and very disgraceful.’

Update: here. And here.