December 2005 update

  • The Court of Appeal hearing to challenge the Orders in Council which forbade the Chagossians from ever returning to their homeland has been adjourned, after seven days, until January 19th next year. A long time to wait. The Chagossians who travelled from Mauritius to attend the hearing have now returned.

  • A big thank you to supporters who came to court – your presence was very much appreciated. Radio 4 gave coverage on the Today programme and The World at One. Some newspapers covered the case too, and there was more extensive coverage on the internet.

  • Deborah Gabriel has written an excellent article for Black Britain; Diego Garcia residents fight second High Court battle for right to return.

  • In the Daily Telegraph on Thursday 8 December there was a letter from Counsellor Caroline Yon of Ascension Island where, apparently, the UK seems to be repeating the Chagos story and attempting to remove people from where they are settled. To learn more about this, see the 9 December edition of the St Helena Independent. Pages 2, 4, 6 and 7 are the most relevant.

  • A correspondent has made the following point: “I understand that the Queen’s Coronation Oath pledges her ‘to govern according to the LAWS and customs of the realm’ –so that to purport to set aside a judicial decision is an abuse of the Royal Prerogative and ultra vires (beyond the legal power or authority). The subjection of autocratic medieval monarchs to rule in the context of established law probably found expression in the Bill of Rights etc, and, if a Prime Minister advises or presses a monarch to irregularity of Prerogative power, the constitution is jeopardized over the entire spectrum of public life!”
    This backs up what we have consistently said: the Prime Minister should not use the Queen’s Royal Prerogative (Orders in Council) to overturn a High Court decision or to pass a measure he is afraid to put to the democratically elected House of Commons.

  • Andrew George MP has an interesting list of questions for the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs including (paraphrased):
    How much has the government incurred in legal fees re cases involving the Chagossians?
    What steps are the government taking to expedite a visit by the Islanders to their homeland?
    How many US personnel and civilians (by nationality) live on Diego Garcia?
    What studies has government done to assess environmental effect of base?
    A question about Iraq military missions from DG and whether the British Administrator approves or needs to approve these.
    Mr George is also asking the Secretary of State for International Development whether the government has any plans to provide overseas development aid to the Chagossian community in Mauritius or Seychelles. This is the Department that spent £50 million on refurbishing their offices. Yes, refurbishing, not rebuilding.

  • Olivier Bancoult and the CRG lost a very good friend and supporter when Anwar Bhayat died unexpectedly last month. He was a truly good man and his tragically young death will be an enormous loss to all who knew him. His family has our deepest, deepest sympathy.

  • The CND Bradford Peace Fair 2005 was an excellent day: superb food, music and craft stalls in the interesting setting of Saltaire. Not only did we raise money to help with the food and tube bill for the Chagossians in London for the Hearing but we also met many interesting people who expressed interest in the cause. This was only the second fair but we hope it will be an annual event.

  • Things you can do to help:
    1. Draw the attention of MPs, local groups (such as Amnesty) and the Queen to the point made earlier re the use/abuse of the Royal Prerogative.
    2. When talking or writing to MPs, ask them to get the Foreign Affairs Select Committee to look at how badly the Chagossians have been treated and to review the Ascension Island situation too.

  • The Committee of the UK Chagos Support Association would like to thank all supporters for their interest and help and to wish you all the best for Christmas and the New Year.