Sunday, 13 July 2014

More questions surface over the use of Diego Garcia atoll for secret CIA flights to 'black sites'

Diego Garcia, a British overseas territory leased as a military base to the US since 1966, may as well be on the moon for all it means to most Britons. But each month fresh evidence emerges of the key role the Indian Ocean atoll played in extraordinary rendition, the ghosting of terrorist suspects to CIA interrogation black sites around the world.

The toxic question for the government is to what extent it knew the practice was happening. The answer has ramifications not just for the UK's relationship with the US but also the future of its nuclear weapons programme.

For years Foreign Office ministers have stonewalled questions about Diego Garcia, in particular what records they have of flights in and out of the atoll. In 2008, Margaret Beckett, then foreign secretary, said that "the record-keeping was not all that marvellous, frankly. It was very difficult for the government to answer questions."

Further reading

Thursday, 27 March 2014

UK Appeal Court hearing - government must address Chagossians' situation without delay, new report - MRG press release

On the eve of a case in the UK's Appeal Court challenging the creation of the Chagos Marine Protected Area, Minority Rights Group International (MRG) calls on the UK government to address the situation facing the Chagossians without delay.

In 2010 the UK government created the world's largest marine reserve around the Chagos Islands, an archipelago in the Indian Ocean. The Islands' original inhabitants were evicted 50 years ago to make way for a US air base on the island of Diego Garcia.

A new MRG report says that the creation of the Marine Protected Area, and the subsequent banning of commercial fishing in its waters, effectively bars Islanders from returning to their homes. Under international law, the Chagossians have a right to return to their homeland, unless such return is not feasible, in which case they should be offered appropriate compensation.

‘The Court case highlights the pressing need for a new feasibility study to clarify, once and for all, the possible means and arrangements for return to the islands,' says Lucy Claridge, MRG's Head of Law.

‘Given that the 2002 investigation commissioned by the UK government on resettlement of the Chagos Islands was found to be seriously flawed, it is imperative that any new feasibility study must be carried out with the full participation of the Chagossians,' she adds.

The Islanders' struggle to return home has led to a decades-long legal battle in the UK courts, and culminated in a December 2012 European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) dismissal of their claims to return, citing reasons based on technical grounds.

Over a year has passed since the ECtHR's decision, and the situation confronting the Chagos Islanders remains unresolved.

The report, Still dispossessed - the battle of the Chagos Islanders to return to their homeland, summarises the case as it now stands and reminds the world of the Chagossians' plight. It also discusses some of the potential ways forward for addressing this prolonged violation of human rights.

‘Apart from the right to return, the Chagossians have the right to an effective remedy and reparation for the violations of their rights. No satisfactory explanation has ever been advanced for the unwarranted forced relocation of them from their homeland,' says Lucy Claridge.

‘At the very least the UK government should issue a formal apology for the injustice suffered by the Chagossian people over the past 50 years,' she adds.

MRG has supported the islanders in their long struggle to return home, and was a joint intervener in the case before the ECtHR. The case at the UK Court of Appeal will be held on 31 March 201

- See more at:

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Friday, 15 February 2013

Conférence sur Chagos à Saint-Paul, La Réunion

Mercredi 20 février 2013 à 18h15, à l’Espace Leconte de Lisle à Saint-Paul, le professeur André Oraison donnera une conférence programmée par les « Amis de l’Université », en partenariat avec le « Comité Solidarité Chagos La Réunion » (CSCR). La conférence a pour titre : « Diego Garcia : une importante base militaire américaine au cœur de l’océan Indien ». La conférence sera suivie d’un débat. Elle sera accompagnée de photographies montrant les îles Chagos ainsi que les luttes des Chagossiens. « Il s’agit donc d’un thème d’une actualité brûlante, précise le CSCR dans un communiqué, et directement lié à la lutte menée par les Chagossiens pour faire reconnaître — enfin, après 40 ans ! — leur droit imprescriptible au retour. Nous vous attendons nombreuses et nombreux à cette conférence. »

Diego Garcia : une importante base militaire américaine au cœur de l’océan Indien

« Dans un premier accord — accord secret — anglo-américain conclu en 1961, les États-Unis s’engagent à créer une base militaire dans l’océan Indien à la double condition que le territoire anglais retenu pour l’abriter échappe au processus de décolonisation et que sa population en soit totalement évacuée. Pour satisfaire ces exigences, les Britanniques ont fait des îles Chagos une nouvelle colonie de la Couronne par un décret-loi en date du 8 novembre 1965 avant de déporter la plupart de leurs habitants vers Maurice, entre 1967 et 1973. Pour faire face à la menace soviétique croissante dans l’océan Indien, les États-Unis et la Grande-Bretagne ont, par la suite, signé le 30 décembre 1966 un second traité portant cession à bail stratégique des Chagos pour une période initiale de 50 ans, éventuellement renouvelable au 30 décembre 2016. Dans ce contexte conflictuel, le récif corallien de Diego Garcia — l’île principale des Chagos — est devenu une importante base militaire en vertu d’un nouveau traité anglo-américain signé le 25 février 1976. « Malte de l’océan Indien », « Nouvelle Okinawa », « Œil du Pentagone » : en vérité, les formules ne manquent dans les états-majors des grandes Puissances maritimes et nucléaires comme dans la presse spécialisée pour qualifier une base stratégique qui a déjà joué un rôle déterminant lors des opérations « Tempête du désert » et « Liberté immuable » déclenchées par les Nations unies, respectivement contre l’Irak en 1991 et l’Afghanistan en 2001. De fait, Diego Garcia abrite aujourd’hui la plus grande base militaire américaine à l’extérieur du territoire des États-Unis et — en raison des menaces qui s’accumulent depuis plusieurs années au Proche-Orient et dans le golfe Arabo-Persique — il en sera vraisemblablement ainsi à l’avenir. Dès lors, la lutte des Chagossiens pour le droit au retour sur leurs terres natales ou la terre de leurs ancêtres doit faire l’objet de tout notre soutien. »


Wednesday, 6 February 2013

UN tribunal may challenge status Chagos

Britain's colonial-era decision to sever an Indian Ocean archipelago from Mauritius and turn it into a US military base will have to be justified before an international tribunal – a process that could lead to the return of the islands' exiled inhabitants.

The unexpected ruling this month by the permanent court of arbitration in The Hague that it can hear the case is a challenge to the UK's unilateral declaration in 2009 of a marine protected area around the Chagos Islands.

Decisions by the tribunal, which arbitrates in disputes over the United Nations law of the sea, are binding on the UK. At the preliminary hearing the UK's attempt to challenge the court's jurisdiction was defeated. Britain is now obliged to explain highly sensitive political decisions dating back to 1965.

Further reading.

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Prominent Labour politician Prescott pleads for Chagossians

The scandal of what happened to the ­people of the Chagos Islands in the Indian Ocean is a terrible injustice.
Imagine you lived on a paradise island. Your ­family could trace its roots back more than 200 years.

Life was good. Home was a four-bedroom house and nearly everyone had a job – unemployment was only 3 per cent.

But then, without warning, you were told everyone was being ­expelled – you’d been sold out ­because your country had done a deal with a foreign power to get a discount on an arms deal.

And just in case you resisted, more than 1,000 dogs were rounded up and gassed to death, the threat being it could happen to you if you didn’t leave.

So you were frightened into ­leaving and dumped on the ­dockside of a foreign land 1,000 miles away with no money and no home. You had to live in a slum, seven people ­sharing one room and ­treated as second-class citizens by the local population.

This actually happened. But it wasn’t an African dictatorship that did this.

It was British ­governments, and the people ­expelled were ­British subjects.

Former UK vice-prime-minister John Prescott in the Sunday Mirror for further reading.

"Partout où je regarde, je vois Diego"

En 1965, au cœur de l’océan Indien, l’évacuation des îles Chagos est ordonnée. Quelques années plus tard, il ne reste plus un Chagossien aux Chagos. Sur l’île principale de Diego Garcia, une base militaire américaine est construite et toute approche civile interdite. 1971 : l’ONU déclare l’Océan Indien « zone de paix » (résolution 2832). En vain. Un demi siècle après le drame, les Chagossiens se rallient plus que jamais à leur mot d’ordre historique : « L’an prochain aux Chagos ». Et l’océan Indien cristallise les enjeux de ce nouveau siècle.