Monday 22 December 2014

Let the Chagossians return to their paradise islands

Whatever your appreciation of John Prescott, he is right on the case of Chagos these days:
Last year I wrote about one of the worst cases of forced ­repatriation in British history.

Two thousand people were scared into fleeing their island ­paradise after their dogs were rounded up and gassed to death.

The Chagos Islands were leased to the US for 50 years by the Harold Wilson government as part of a squalid deal on nuclear weapons. The islanders were made to flee because the US wanted to turn one of the islands, Diego Garcia, into an ­American ­military base.
Further reading.

Should the Chagos Islands be resettled?

Summary and conclusion of an academic paper.
In conclusion, after exploring on the different arguments for and against the resettlement of the Chagos islands, the author of this paper strongly believes that the Chagos islands should be resettled. Although the resettlement would be costly and would entail expensive underwriting by the British taxpayer for an open-ended period, in September 2010 the Conservative MEP, Charles Tannock, was told by the European Commissioner for development, that if the UK requested the Commission to explore options whether it would be willing to make a financial contribution towards the cost of resettlement under the Overseas Association 2001/822/EC, it would happily be willing in doing so
. One supports the arguments which have been put forward by David Snoxell, a former British High Commissioner to Mauritius 2000-2004 and Deputy Commissioner of BIOT 1995-1997, about the resettlement on the outer islands of the Chagos archipelago as well as an agreement on sovereignty of such islands. The British government is currently on a contract with the US with regards to Diego Garcia where the US military base is located, it would be highly preposterous to expect the US to abandon their base or to welcome resettlement there. As Snoxell argues that it is possible for the British government to restore the Chagossians right of return to the outer islands of the Chagos archipelago without prejudice to the security of the US military base
. Finally, the resettlement of the Chagos islands would be a great opportunity to right a great wrong as well as to wipe a national shame of the British government, the Chagossians should no longer be the victims of an injustice that deprived them of their birth right

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