Free Diego Garcia! Chagos for the Chagossians!

From the March-April 2011 issue of News & Letters:

Free Diego Garcia! Chagos for the Chagossians!

Port Louis, Mauritius–The Oct. 30-Nov. 2 LALIT International Conference to “Free Diego” was timed so right and politically so spot on that it seems to have been a catalyst. An instant effect was that during our conference, the prime minister announced Nov. 3 would be “Chagos Day” and commemorated every year. Also during the conference, the UK’s Marine Protected Area came into force. This was Britain’s perfidious way of claiming sovereignty over Chagos and preventing Chagossians from returning. It provoked the Mauritian state, with the prime minister calling the British “hypocrites, liars and cheats.”

WikiLeaks published cables that are clear proof that both the UK and U.S. saw the whole “marine protected area” maneuver as a cynical ploy to keep Chagossians and Mauritians away from the military base.

The Mauritian government started a legal action. For the first time since the 1965 illegal theft and occupation of the islands by the British and U.S., Mauritius acted on the Chagos issue. Dr. Arvin Boolell, Minister of Foreign Affairs, demanded the U.S. quit Diego Garcia.

On Jan. 30 and 31 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, at the African Union Summit, the prime minister proposed a motion on Diego Garcia and Chagos, first for approval by the African Union (AU) and then to be presented to the next UN General Assembly. It was unanimously supported. For the first time, official delegation to the AU included a Chagossian representative, Olivier Bancoult.

On Feb. 4, WikiLeaks sent the Telegraph yet another correspondence between Britain and the U.S. that shows that the British and U.S. intend to “buy out” the Chagossian leadership if they win the right to return.

With the difficulties that the Pentagon has had to get military bases to set up its Africa Command, Diego Garcia has become even more important. All kinds of popular uprisings have been taking place well nigh simultaneously.

Greetings from all at LALIT in Mauritius,

(Excerpts from a letter to N&L)

–Ragini Kistnasamy and Lindsey Collen

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2 Responses to Free Diego Garcia! Chagos for the Chagossians!

  1. Syllable says:

    I first read about the Chagossians plight and the history of British colonial terrorism that continues still today in John Pilger’s Freedom Next Time and have been trying to find the latest news on this matter, and whether or not a final decision has been reached to allow them finally back to their homeland. Please keep me updated as I have had a hard time finding recent news. I am an MC and am inspired by the conviction of these disfranchised people to use the medium of music as a way to get the word out more on what has happened and what is still happening.


  2. Nalliah Thayabharan says:

    USA was deeply concerned with the stability of the host nation of any potential base, and sought an unpopulated territory, to avoid United Nations’s decolonisation requirements and the resulting political issues of sovereignty or anti-US sentiment. The Chagossian right of occupation was violated by the UK Foreign Office as a result of the 1966 agreement between UK & USA. The forced removal of the Chagossian people was an act of ethnic cleansing. The frustration of more than four decades of of exile for the Chagos islanders exacerbated by the refusal of successive UK governments to find a just solution kept breaking though. How can it be that a military settlement is lawful when the rightful inhabitants are not allowed to settle there? US & UK military squatters have taken over the rightful habitation of the islands. Each revelation about the UK’s dealings with Diego Garcia is more disgraceful than the previous, and still the cover-up continues.
    Documentary produced by John Pilger titled ‘Stealing of a Nation’ discusses the current plight of the Chagossian people who have been forcibly exiled by the so-called guardians of democracy and human rights, the United Kingdom, for the benefit of their loyal friends, the USA, so that the latter has an unrestricted platform to launch attacks on other nations which do not comply with the so called ‘new world order’ as dictated by them

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