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50+ SCHOLARS AND OTHER EXPERTS DEMAND UK AND US RETURN MILITARY-CONTROLLED DIEGO GARCIA AND OTHER INDIAN OCEAN ISLANDS TO THEIR EXILED INHABITANTS

 

MEDIA CONTACT: David Vine, 202-885-2923, vine@american.eduwww.letusreturnusa.org  

 

Washington, DC—November 22, a group of 50+ scholars and other military and international affairs experts from around the world have sent a letter to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and US President Donald J. Trump demanding that Britain “end its administration” of the Indian Ocean’s Chagos Archipelago and that both governments “facilitat[e] the resettlement” of the exiled Chagossian people, who were expelled from the Chagos islands, between 1968 and 1973, by UK and US officials during construction of the US/UK military base on the island Diego Garcia. 

The letter’s signatories include former Ronald Reagan administration US Assistant Secretary of Defense (1981-1985) Lawrence Korb; internationally-renowned MIT and University of Arizona Professor Noam Chomsky; CODEPINK for Peace co-director, Medea Benjamin; Professor Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, author of An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States; and University of Edinburgh Professor Laura Jeffery, author of Chagos Islanders in Mauritius and the UK: Forced Displacement and Onward Migration. 

The experts are supporting protests organized today by Chagossians living in exile in London and Mauritius. The protests are condemning “the illegal occupation of [the] Chagos Archipelago by the British government” and marking the expiration date of the six-month deadline by which the UN ordered the United Kingdom to withdraw from the Chagos islands and “to cooperate with Mauritius” in resettling Chagossians. In an action the United Nations and the International Court of Justice have called “unlawful,” the United Kingdom separated the Chagos islands from its now former colony Mauritius during Mauritian independence negotiations. The letter notes that “Chagossians have been struggling for more than 50 years to return to their homeland.”

 

The scholars request a public statement from the US Government, which occupies a secretive US navy and air force base on Diego Garcia, expressing support for the return of the Chagossians and a commitment to assist in their repatriation. “The US government shares responsibility for the Chagossians’ expulsion into impoverished exile,” the letter says. “The US government paid the UK government $14 million for basing rights and the removal of all Chagossians from Diego Garcia and the rest of the Chagos islands.” 

 

The letter notes “the Chagos Refugees Group is not asking to close the base. They simply want the right to return home to live in peaceful coexistence.” The controversial US base on Diego Garcia played major roles in the US-led wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and formed a still-mysterious part of the CIA’s extraordinary rendition program, which sent accused terrorists to secret prisons around the world. The base is off limits to everyone except authorized military personnel.

 

Another signatory, American University Professor David Vine, author of Island of Shame: The Secret History of the U.S. Military Base on Diego Garcia, commented about the letter, “The 50 experts are a sign of growing international support for the Chagossians whose basic human rights have been continuously violated for more than half a century. The Chagossians’ unceasing protests are inspiring in the face of the UK and US governments showing blatant, shameful disregard for international law, the UN, and the International Court of Justice.”

 

The text of the letter and the full list of signatories are below. Additional signatures and other  updates will be available at www.letusreturnusa.org.  

 

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Experts’ Letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson and President Donald J. Trump

Supporting the Exiled Chagossian People

 

22 November 2019

 

Dear Prime Minister Boris Johnson and President Donald J. Trump, 

 

We are a group of scholars, military and international relations analysts, and other experts who are writing in support of the exiled Chagossian people. As you know, the Chagossians have been struggling for more than 50 years to return to their homeland in the Indian Ocean’s Chagos Archipelago since the UK and US governments expelled the people between 1968­ and 1973 during construction of the US/UK military base on the Chagossians’ island Diego Garcia. 

 

We support the Chagos Refugees Group’s call to “condemn the illegal occupation of [the] Chagos Archipelago by the British government” following the United Nations General Assembly Resolution adopted 22 May 2019 by a 116–6 vote. 

 

We support Chagossians today protesting the end of the six-month deadline by which the UN ordered the United Kingdom 1) to “withdraw its colonial administration” from the Chagos Archipelago, 2) to acknowledge that the Chagos Archipelago “forms an integral part” of the former UK colony Mauritius; and 3) “to cooperate with Mauritius in facilitating the resettlement” of Chagossians.

 

We support the Chagos Refugees Group’s call for the UK government to show “respect for [the] United Nations” and for the International Court of Justice judgement of 25 February 2019 that called UK rule in the Chagos Archipelago “unlawful” and ordered the UK to “end its administration of the Chagos Archipelago as rapidly as possible.”

 

We emphasize that the US government shares responsibility for the Chagossians’ expulsion into impoverished exile: The US government paid the UK government $14 million for basing rights and the removal of all Chagossians from Diego Garcia and the rest of the Chagos islands. We call on the US government to publicly state that it does not oppose Chagossians returning to their islands and to assist Chagossians in returning home.

 

We note the Chagos Refugees Group is not asking to close the base. They simply want the right to return home to live in peaceful coexistence with the base, where some want to work. The Mauritian government has said it will allow the US/UK base to continue to operate. Civilians live next to US bases worldwide; military experts agree resettlement would pose no security risk. 

 

We support the Chagos Refugees Group in saying the UK and US governments cannot continue “to banish [Chagossians’] fundamental right” to live in their homeland. You have the power to rectify this historic injustice. You have the power to show the world that the UK and US uphold basic human rights. We agree with Chagossians “that justice needs to be done” and that “it’s time to put an end to [their] suffering.”

 

Sincerely, 

 

Christine Ahn, Women Cross DMZ

 

Jeff Bachman, Lecturer in Human Rights, American University

 

Medea Benjamin, CoDirector, CODEPINK 

 

Phyllis Bennis, Institute for Policy Studies, New Internationalism Project

 

Ali Beydoun, Human Rights Attorney, American University Washington College of Law

Leah Bolger, President, World BEYOND War and Commander, US Navy (Ret)

 

Sean Carey, Senior Research Fellow, University of Manchester

 

Noam Chomsky, Laureate Professor, University of Arizona/Institute Professor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology


Neta C. Crawford, Professor/Chair of the Department Political Science, Boston University

 

Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, Professor Emerita, California State University

 

Richard Dunne, Barrister and Author, “A Dispossessed People: The Depopulation of the Chagos Archipelago 1965-1973”

 

James Counts Early, Director Cultural Heritage Policy Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage

 

Hassan El-Tayyab, Legislative Representative for Middle East Policy, Friends Committee on National Legislation

 

Joseph Essertier, Associate Professor, Nagoya Institute of Technology

 

John Feffer, Director, Foreign Policy In Focus, Institute for Policy Studies

 

Norma Field, Emeritus Professor, University of Chicago

 

Bill Fletcher, Jr., Executive Editor, GlobalAfricanWorker.com

 

Dana Frank, Professor Emerita, University of California, Santa Cruz

Scott Freeman, Professorial Lecturer, American University

 

Bruce K. Gagnon, Coordinator, Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space

 

Joseph Gerson, President, Campaign for Peace, Disarmament and Common Security

Vinesh Y. Hookoomsing, Professor and Former Pro Vice-Chancellor of the University of Mauritius

 

Jean Jackson, Professor of Anthropology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

 

Laura Jeffery, Professor, University of Edinburgh

 

Barbara Rose Johnston, Senior Fellow, Center for Political Ecology

 

Kyle Kajihiro, Board of Directors, Hawaii Peace and Justice/PhD Candidate, University of Hawaii, Manoa

 

Dylan Kerrigan, University of Leicester

 

Gwyn Kirk, Women for Genuine Security

 

Lawrence Korb, United States Assistant Secretary of Defense 1981-1985

 

Peter Kuznick, Professor of History, American University

 

Wlm L Leap, Professor Emeritus, American University

 

John Lindsay-Poland, Author, Plan Colombia: U.S. Ally Atrocities and Community Activism and Emperors in the Jungle: The Hidden History of the U.S. in Panama

 

C. Douglas Lummis, Visiting Professor, Okinawa Christian University Graduate School and Coordinator, Veterans For Peace-Ryukyus/Okinawa Chapter Kokusai

 

Catherine Lutz, Professor, Brown University/Author, Homefront: A Military City and the American Twentieth Century and War and Health: The Medical Consequences of the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan

 

Olivier Magis, Filmmaker, Another Paradise

Barbara Miller, Professor, George Washington University

 

George Derek Musgrove, Associate Professor of History, University of Maryland, Baltimore County   

 

Lisa Natividad, Professor, University of Guam

 

Celine-Marie Pascale, Professor, American University

 

Miriam Pemberton, Associate Fellow, Institute for Policy Studies

 

Adrienne Pine, Associate Professor, American University

 

Steve Rabson, Professor Emeritus, Brown University/Veteran, United States Army, Okinawa

 

Rob Rosenthal, Interim Provost, Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs, Professor Emeritus, Wesleyan University

 

Victoria Sanford, Professor, Lehman College/Director, Center for Human Rights & Peace Studies, Graduate Center, City University of New York

Stephanie Savell, Co-Director, Costs of War Project

 

Cathy Lisa Schneider, Professor, American University 

 

Susan Shepler, Associate Professor, American University

 

Angela Stuesse, Associate Professor, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill

 

Delbert L. Spurlock. Jr., Former General Counsel and Assistant Secretary of the US Army for Manpower and Reserve Affairs

 

David Swanson, Executive Director, World BEYOND War

 

Susan J. Terrio, Professor Emerita, Georgetown University

John Tierney, Executive Director, Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation and former Democratic Member of Congress from Massachusetts 

 

Jane Tigar, Human Rights Attorney

 

Michael E. Tigar, Emeritus Professor of Law, Duke Law School and Washington College of Law

 

David Vine, Professor, American University/Author, Island of Shame: The Secret History of the U.S. Military Base on Diego Garcia 

 

Colonel Ann Wright, US Army Reserves (Retired)/Veterans for Peace