The Chagos Islands - an archipelago in the Indian Ocean, halfway Africa and Indonesia. Colonised by French plantation operators, populated by slaves taken from other French island colonies in the Indian Ocean. In 1804 conquered by the British who abolished slavery. Plantations and workers however stayed.
And then the government of the United States of America decided that the archipelago was of high strategic value and wanted to have the natural harbour of the main island, Diego Garcia, as a navy base - condition was that there should be no human beings snooping around.
The islands were detached from the original main island colony, Mauritius, were not given independence and the British government decreed that the population of slave descendants was really an itinerant worker community.Plantations were nationalised and immediately closed down. The islanders were deported, the US navy and air force moved in (1973).
In the so-called war on terror the islands are used as a prison and torture camp under the incredible code name of Footprint of Freedom.
Although the indigenous people won their court cases against their deportation they are still being denied the right of return. Nowadays, the risk of climate change is the main story why the islands should not be populated. A continuing sad story.
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: http://www.minorityrights.org/12326/press-releases/uk-appeal-court-hearing-government-must-address-chagossians-situation-without-delay-new-report.html#sthash.Ghbxh71u.dpuf