January 2007 update

  • There was a positive reaction to David Vine’s article “Island of Injustice” in the Washington Post on 2 January. Hopefully it will encourage readers to recognise America’s moral responsibility towards the people whose forced exile the US government continues to demand.

  • In the Guardian of 4 January, Richard Norton-Taylor wrote this article showing how Diego Garcia was linked to alleged US torture flights.

  • Labour MEP Gary Titley plans to ask a question in the European Parliament on whether the islanders human rights have been infringed and what the European Union can do to rectify the situation.

    Other MEPs including Baroness Ludford and Glenys Kinnock have also shown sympathy for the cause, so we suggest you make an appointment with your local MEP to discuss this issue. Find out who represents you at theyworkforyou.com and contact our secretary for help with discussion points if you like.

  • In his Christmas message to the Falkland Islands, Tony Blair spoke of the importance of “your right to determine your own future”. If only he would extend that right to all the islanders of the Overseas Territories – Ascension islanders as well as Chagossians.

  • We were interested to learn of two recent victories for indigenous people. Firstly, the bushmen of the Kalahari have won the right to return to their homelands in Botswana.
    Secondly, Aborigines of the Githabul people have won a ten year fight for control of World Heritage-listed rainforests in New South Wales, Australia. They will help manage nineteen national parks and state forests. The Chagos Archipelago is considered a highly valuable site by environmentalists so there could be scope there for some Chagossian employment in that field, once they return.

  • There are some delightful, yet poignant, sets of postcards available for sale which commemorate the brief visit by a few Chagossians to their homeland last year. The postcards show some of the flora and fauna too. Please contact this association if you would like to buy some.

  • Allen Vincatassin in Crawley tells us that the BIOT People’s Party will continue to deal with political matters whilst their newly formed Diego Garcian Community for Voluntary Services will deal with social work. This lists amongst its aims: working for the welfare of Chagossians in the UK, teaching English, revitalising their culture and improving skills.

  • The other Crawley group, the Chagos Island Community Association, has been told by the courts to stop its protest outside council offices. The group’s leader, Hengride Permal, said: “We were forced from our country, we didn’t leave by choice. We were forced out, put on a boat and sent to exile in Mauritius… We cannot afford private landlords with the minimum wages that people are making.”

  • In the last update we appealed for help for a Chagossian child and her mother who were in rather dire straits in Feltham and are pleased to report that we had a kindly response from supporters.

  • In Dublin last week, a drama called Chagossians, or The True Story of Diego Garcia was performed at the Civic Theatre. This association was able to help by supplying some extra information for this project.

  • The annual Island Quiz was won by Mrs May Brown of Leyland and she will receive a modest cheque as a reward for her efforts. If there is still any outstanding money from the sale of quiz sheets, please can you send it to the treasurer or secretary? Cheques payable to UK Chagos Support Association.