Read Chagos Refugees Group chair Olivier Bancoult's new article demanding the US and UK governments provide justice for Chagossians
Please read and share Olivier Bancoult's new article demanding the US and UK governments provide justice for the crimes against humanity committed against Chagossians! https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/chagos-islands-olivier-bancoult-uk-us-military-base-human-rights-watch/
The British government has announced a dramatic policy change: it will begin negotiations with the government of Mauritius about Chagossians returning home and sovereignty over Diego Garcia and the Chagos islands.
Chagossians must be an equal partner in these negotiations.
Human Rights Watch just published a major report showing that the US + UK governments committed CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY by forcibly displacing the Chagossian people during construction of the US military base on Diego Garcia + barring Chagossians from returning home for more than 1/2 a century.
The report, “That’s When the Nightmare Started," is an unprecedented condemnation of the US + UK by a major human rights organization.
Human Rights Watch calls for full reparations for the Chagossians from the US + UK, including:
1) allowing #Chagossians to return home
2) resettlement assistance
3) proper compensation for 1/2 century of exile
4) official US + UK government apologies
5) public release of documents related to the Chagossians.
Read the report: https://www.hrw.org/report/2023/02/15/thats-when-nightmare-started/uk-and-us-forced-displacement-chagossians-and
Watch a 1-minute video: https://www.youtube.com/shorts/a0Ah3k88yOc
Watch a powerful 18-minute video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YkFhy_ET4ik
For more coverage and reactions see https://twitter.com/LetUsReturnUSA + https://www.facebook.com/uschagossupport
Watch a short 1-minute Human Rights Watch video here: https://www.youtube.com/shorts/a0Ah3k88yOc
After the British government announced it would start negotiations with the Mauritian government over sovereignty in Chagos and Chagossians returning home, Chagossians rightly demanded they be part of these negotiations. Disturbingly the UK government said it would have “conversations” with Chagossians and then excluded them from the first round of talks. Chagossians and supporters including members of Parliament and Human Rights Watch have demanded that Chagossians be fully involved in all future discussions.
Let Us Return USA!, the US support group for the exiled Chagossian people, wants to share some huge updates, including news that Chagossians may be close to going home….
In November the British government announced a dramatic policy change: it would begin negotiations with the government of Mauritius about Chagossians returning home and sovereignty over Diego Garcia and the Chagos islands.
Chagossians rightly demanded they be part of these negotiations. Disturbingly the UK government said it would have “conversations” with Chagossians and then excluded them from the first round of talks. Chagossians and supporters, including members of Parliament and Human Rights Watch, have insisted that Chagossians be fully involved in all future talks.
Human Rights Watch’s involvement (see video) is another major development, increasing pressure on the US and UK governments and support for Chagossians. HRW, one of the world’s leading human rights organizations, will release a major report about the Chagossians in the next few weeks. HRW has already demanded that any UK-Mauritius agreement include a commitment to the right of return and full reparations.
The links underlined above provide more information about the new developments. For other major updates click the link below....
Liste: Human Rights Watch Hosts Discussion of "Crimes against Humanity" Committed against Chagossians by US and UK, with Olivier Bancoult
"Paradise Lost: How Building of US Base on Chagos Led to Heinous Crimes": https://www.hrw.org/video-photos/audio/2023/02/15/paradise-lost-how-building-us-base-chagos-led-heinous-crimes
Perhaps the biggest-ever article in the US press was just published in the major news magazine "The Atlantic," signalling growing momentum for the Chagossians finally winning the right to return home and justice. https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2022/07/reclaiming-chagos-islands-british-colonization/638444/
Everyone should read and SHARE this powerful article about the US + UK governments' brutal exile of the Chagossian people. AND, sadly, the article overlooks one major detail: The leading role US officials played in orchestrating + PAYING for a crime in which UK officials were effectively hired thugs.
This means the article's subtitle is inaccurate + should read: "Half a century ago, the U.S. AND British governmentS forcibly removed 2,000 people...." While both the UK + US governments bear responsibility for the crime, the US government was always the senior partner. Here's why... US officials:
1) Dreamed up the idea for a base on Diego Garcia in the late 1950s + 1960s;
2) Insisted on the removal of the Chagossians during secret 1964 negotiations in London;
3) Proposed the UK violate UN decolonization rules by creating a new colony (British Indian Ocean Territory) to secure base rights;
4) Secretly paid the UK government $14 million for deportating the Chagossians + basing rights via a secret 1966 agreement;
5) Ordered the final removal of Chagossians from Diego Garcia in 1971, with the highest ranking official in the US Navy's words, "Absolutely must go";
6) Assisted with the killing of Chagossians' pet dogs (the exhaust noted in the article came from a US Navy jeep);
7) Covered up the crime by lying to Congress, the media, + the world about the Chagos islands being "uninhabited";
8) Barred Chagossians from working on the Diego Garcia base; and
9) Supported UK government efforts to prevent Chagossians from returning to their homeland.
Cullen Murphy is to be complemented for writing an article about a crime the US media has long ignored. Please share it widely but tell @TheAtlantic + others:
Don't get it twisted, the mastermind behind the crime of exiling the Chagossians was + is the US government.
I provide details + evidence for all of the above in my book, "Island of Shame: The Secret History of the U.S. Military Base on Diego Garcia," which Murphy nicely mentions in the article.
A major New York Times op-ed shows how the US and UK are holding onto Diego Garcia as a colony and preventing Chagossians from going home. Both governments claim to be committed to international law and criticize the Chinese government for violating international law but then hypocritically and illegally hold on to Diego Garcia. This double standard is "brazen," "grotesque and damaging."
The author, Philippe Sands, calls for the UK to return the Chagos islands to their internationally recognized sovereign, Mauritius, and for its government to follow through on its promises to allow Chagossians to return, while also giving the US a 99-year lease to the Diego Garcia base.
Sands says this can be "a win-win-win proposition," in which "security, human rights and the marine environment are protected."
We hope the Biden administration respects international law and the international community by pushing the UK to give up its last-created colony. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/01/opinion/uk-mauritius-china-us.html
Diego Garcia is one of the United States’ largest overseas military bases. It was built with the expulsion of the Chagossians, who had lived there for generations, and the occupation of their archipelago. International law and courts have repeatedly ruled the occupation as illegal but the US (and UK) continue to occupy the territory and dismiss the concerns of the Chagossians. @joebiden will you continue to stay silent or will you bring justice to the Chagossians? Let us return!
Major news! The UN has again ruled it is finally time the UK upheld its end of international law and end its "unlawful" occupation of the Chagos Islands. The UN International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea ruled last week 8-1 that Mauritius, not the UK, has sovereignty over the Chagossians' homeland.
This is a massive victory for the Chagossians as the Mauritian government has promised to allow Chagossians to return home. The UK seems set to ignore the ruling. The major question is whether the new Biden/Harris administration will support the UK's unlawful occupation or support the Chagossians and international law....
(Also: the ruling came just days before the UK’s accent to the presidency of the UN Security Council with the self-proclaimed focus of “human rights.") https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/jan/28/un-court-rejects-uk-claim-to-chagos-islands-in-favour-of-mauritius
The UK and US governments suffered what The Guardian called a "crushing" defeat and a "spectacular" diplomatic failure when the UN General Assembly voted 116-6 in support of the International Court of Justice ruling that Mauritius, not Britain, is the lawful sovereign in the Chagos islands and that the Chagossians should be allowed to go home. The General Assembly vote gave the UK 6 months to return sovereignty to Mauritius. There is lots of media coverage. Here's the New York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/22/world/africa/britain-chagos-mauritius.html
Huge news! The International Court of Justice has ruled that the UK unlawfully separated the Chagos islands from Mauritius during the decolonization process when Mauritius won its independence. The Court has directed the UK to "bring an end" to its rule over Chagos "as rapidly as possible" and directed the UN General Assembly to help to ensure the resettlement of Chagossians as a matter of human rights.
Great story by a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist at the LA Times about the Chagossians and their upcoming case before the International Court of Justice: http://www.latimes.com/world/africa/la-fg-britain-us-diego-garcia-20180814-story.html
Britain lost the UN vote 94-16, meaning the International Court of Justice will weigh in on whether UK or Mauritius has sovereignty over Chagos. The Chagos Refugees Group supported Mauritius and had a presence at the UN. Victory at the ICJ could assist a return. This vote alone casts more shame on the UK and the US (which voted with Britain). Only 3 European countries supported the UK post-Brexit. See: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/22/world/europe/uk-mauritius-chagos-islands.html
Nobel Laureates Urge President Obama
to Bring Justice to the Exiled Chagossian People
before Leaving Office
Press Release (Click Here for PDF Version)
Washington, DC, January 5, 2017 -- Seven Nobel Laureates, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, are urging fellow Nobel Laureate President Barack Obama to use his last days in office to help end five decades of exile suffered by the Chagossian people, who were displaced from their homes on the British-controlled island of Diego Garcia by a U.S. military base.
“Only you now have the power to help the Chagossians return to their ancestral homeland” in the Indian Ocean, the Laureates tell President Obama. By helping the people return home, Obama can “cement [his] legacy as a defender of human rights,” the Nobel winners’ letter points out (full text below).
The Chagossians are descendants of enslaved Africans and indentured Indians whose ancestors lived on Diego Garcia and in the rest of the Chagos Archipelago since the time of the American Revolution. The Chagossians have been living in impoverished exile since the U.S. and U.K. governments forcibly removed them between 1968 and 1973 while establishing the U.S. base on Diego Garcia. For almost 50 years, the two governments have refused Chagossian demands to go home. In signing the letter, Archbishop Tutu described the people as “marginalised and ill-used children of God.”
The Nobel Laureates stress that Chagossians aren’t asking Obama to close or alter the military installation: “They are only asking…to return…to live in peaceful coexistence with the base.”
The letter’s signatories are Tutu, Jody Williams, Mairead Maguire, Tawakkol Karman, Dr. Yu Joe Huang, Dr. Stephen P. Myers, and Dr. Edward L. Vine. They ask Obama to take five steps including “to publicly state that the U.S. does not oppose the Chagossians returning to their islands”; “to recognize Chagossians’ basic right to live in their homeland with equal rights to compete for civilian jobs on the base”; and “to provide reasonable assistance for Chagossians’ resettlement.”
“You have the power to show the world that the U.S. upholds basic human rights,” the letter concludes. “Please help ensure that justice is done for the Chagossians.”
The text of the letter from the Nobel Laureates, biographies of the signatories, and quotations from Chagossian leaders follow.
Comments about the Letter from Leaders in the Chagossian Movement to Return
Leader of the Chagos Refugees Group, Olivier Bancoult: “We hope that as a Nobel Peace Prize winner, President Barack Obama will pay attention to his seven fellow Peace Prize winners and, before leaving the White House, correct the injustice committed against Chagossians. If he does, the world will remember him as someone who restored the fundamental rights of Chagossians to live on our birthplace. We feel better at home, so live and let us live there in peace and harmony.”
Spokesperson for the Chagos Refugees Group UK branch, Sabrina Jean: “The Chagos Refugees Group welcomes this important letter from Nobel Laureates to President Obama. We, Chagossians, have been living in exile for decades, fighting to return to our homeland. Before you leave office, President Obama, please help right the wrong of this terrible injustice done to the Chagossian community. President Obama, everyone has the right to live in their motherland, but why not us?”
Chair of the Seychelles Chagossians Committee, Pierre Prosper: “The Seychelles Chagossians Committee have been fighting for decades for our right to return together with the rest of our Chagossians brothers and sisters. We ask that Chagossians are looked at, valued and treated as human beings. Our pain is a ‘real human hurt.’ We believe in our capacity and devotion to create a thriving community on our native land. President Obama, we need your support to allow this to happen.”
Let Us Return USA! spokesperson and longtime attorney for the Chagossians Ali Beydoun: “We thank the Nobel Laureates for standing up for the Chagossians, who have been ignored for so long. We call on President Obama to direct the Pentagon to drop any opposition to the return of Chagossians who wish to live on Diego Garcia, as well as on their other islands, more than 150 miles from the base. The U.S. government played a key role in the Chagossians’ suffering by ordering and financing their expulsion. Let Us Return USA! urges President Obama to redress this violation of fundamental human rights before he leaves office.”
Chagos Refugees Group lawyer in Mauritius, Sivakumaren (Robin) Mardemootoo: “When Olivier Bancoult and I met with President Nelson Mandela in Pretoria, Mandela was adamant that there could be no legal, moral or other reason which could stand in the way of a resettlement of the Chagos Islanders back on their Chagos Islands. I am baffled by the UK Government’s decision to deny resettlement on the ground of cost to the British taxpayer. Resettlement of the Chagossians is an obligation, further to a forceful eviction; it is neither a favour nor an act of charity. I am stupefied by the shameful inability of the US to correct such wrong and by its callous and appalling policy of quiet disregard towards those islanders. How can the US morally continue to ignore the 45 years misery of these exiled islanders who have continuously asked to be resettled on their islands after an inhumane eviction? How can the UK and the US continue to champion morality and rightfulness while continuing to act so immorally and wrongfully towards the Chagossians? Hypocrisy at its best.”
The Chagos Refugees Group represents Chagossians living in exile in Mauritius and the United Kingdom in their struggle to return to their homeland.
Let Us Return USA! is a U.S.-based group of citizens supporting the Chagossian people’s struggle to return to their homeland in the Chagos Archipelago.
Olivier Bancoult (President Chagos Refugees Group): 011 (230)234-1024, email@example.com
Sabrina Jean (Chair, Chagos Refugees Group UK branch): 011 (44) 07832113931, firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter: @UKCRG
David Vine (Let Us Return USA! Representative): (1) 202-885-2923, email@example.com
For a full press kit and additional background: www.LetUsReturnUSA.org
A PDF version of the letter is here.
Letter from Nobel Laureates
Urging President Barack H. Obama to Bring Justice
to the Exiled Chagossian People
January 5, 2017
President Barack H. Obama
The White House
Washington, DC, USA
Dear Mr. President,
In the last days of your presidency, we write to you as fellow Nobel Laureates to urge you to correct the historic injustice suffered by the Chagossian people, who have been living in impoverished exile for almost fifty years.
The Chagossians were displaced from their homes on the British-controlled island of Diego Garcia to make way for a U.S. military base. For decades, Chagossians have asked for the right to go home. In November, the people were devastated when the U.K. said it would not allow a return despite a U.K. government-funded study showing that resettlement is feasible. Only you now have the power to help the Chagossians return to their ancestral homeland and, in the process, cement your legacy as a defender of human rights.
We must emphasize that Chagossians are not asking you to close or alter the U.S. base. They are only asking to be allowed to return to their islands to live in peaceful coexistence with the base.
The Chagossians’ ancestors first came to the Chagos Archipelago as enslaved Africans and indentured Indians. From around the time of the American Revolution until their displacement, generations of Chagossians lived on the islands cultivating a proud culture.
In a 1966 U.S./U.K. agreement, the U.S. promised the U.K. $14 million for basing rights and the removal of all Chagossians from Diego Garcia. Between 1968 and 1973, British agents, assisted by U.S. Navy personnel, deported the Chagossians 1,200 miles away to slums on the islands of Mauritius and the Seychelles. The Chagossians received no resettlement assistance.
Since their expulsion, the Chagossians have been living in profound poverty and struggling to return to their homeland. Sadly, previous U.S. and U.K. administrations have blocked any resettlement and largely ignored the people’s suffering.
Recently, support for a return has been building worldwide. Civilians live next to U.S. bases worldwide, and military experts agree resettlement would pose no security risk on Diego Garcia. The recent extension of the 1966 U.S./U.K. agreement provides the ideal opportunity to honor the Chagossians’ right to live in their homeland. Thus, we ask you:
(1) To publicly state that the U.S. does not oppose the Chagossians returning to their islands;
(2) To recognize Chagossians’ basic right to live in their homeland with equal rights to compete for civilian jobs on the base;
(3) To provide reasonable assistance for Chagossians’ resettlement and assistance in seeking employment on the base;
(4) To guarantee and enshrine these rights in the U.S./U.K. base agreement; and
(5) To begin direct negotiations with Chagossian representatives on these issues.
You have the power to rectify this historic injustice. You have the power to show the world that the U.S. upholds basic human rights. Please help ensure that justice is done for the Chagossians.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu
Nobel Peace Prize, 1984
Nobel Peace Prize, 1997
Nobel Peace Prize, 2011
Mairead Corrigan Maguire
Nobel Peace Prize, 1976
Dr. Yu Joe Huang
Nobel Peace Prize, 2007, member of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
Dr. Stephen P. Meyers
Nobel Peace Prize, 2007, member of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
Dr. Edward L. Vine
Nobel Peace Prize, 2007, member of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
Archbishop Desmond Tutu received the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize for his leadership in the nonviolent opposition movement against South Africa’s brutal system of racial apartheid. See: https://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/1984/tutu-facts.html
Jody Williams shared the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize with the International Campaign to Ban Landmines for her role as a “driving force in the launching of an international campaign against landmines.” See: https://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/1997/williams-facts.html
Tawakkol Karman shared the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize with Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Leymah Gbowee “for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work.” At just 32 years old, the journalist and human rights activist became the youngest-ever Peace Prize winner and the first Arab woman to win the Prize. See: https://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/2011/karman-facts.html
Mairead Corrigan Maguire received the 1976 Nobel Peace Prize with Betty Williams as founders of the Northern Ireland Peace Movement (later renamed Community of Peace People). See: https://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/1976/corrigan-facts.html
Dr. Yu Joe Huang is a member of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with former U.S. Vice President Al Gore Jr., for “their efforts to obtain and disseminate greater knowledge concerning man-made climate changes and the steps that need to be taken to counteract those changes.” See: https://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/2007/ipcc-facts.html
Dr. Stephen P. Meyers is a member of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with former U.S. Vice President Al Gore Jr., for “their efforts to obtain and disseminate greater knowledge concerning man-made climate changes and the steps that need to be taken to counteract those changes.” See: https://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/2007/ipcc-facts.html
Dr. Edward L. Vine is a member of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with former U.S. Vice President Al Gore Jr., for “their efforts to obtain and disseminate greater knowledge concerning man-made climate changes and the steps that need to be taken to counteract those changes.” See: https://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/2007/ipcc-facts.html
Chagossians have a soccer team that plays against other teams not recognized by FIFA. The team is playing in the non-FIFA World Football Cup. Visit: https://www.facebook.com/search/top/?q=chagos%20football%20association