June 2013 update

PARLIAMENT

The Chagos Islands (BIOT) All-Party Parliamentary Group held its 36th meeting on 5th June 2013.

 

Members discussed recent correspondence with Ministers, parliamentary questions and interventions in debates since the last meeting on 24th April. They were grateful to Baroness Whitaker for her speech during the Lords’ foreign affairs, defence and development debate on 14th May in which she recalled the commitment by William Hague before the election “to work to ensure a fair settlement of this long-standing dispute” and his promise on 20th December 2012 to review the policy on resettlement. Baroness Whitaker had asked when Parliament would be consulted about the review, commenting that there was “much work to be done to make the MPA what it ought to be so that everyone can wholeheartedly support it”.

 

The Group considered a Question, answered on 5th June, from Lord Ramsbotham as to whether HMG “will commission an independent study to re-evaluate the science and practicality of resettlement, in consultation with the Chagossians, in the light of Prof. Kench’s report which concluded that the 2002 feasibility study used untested models and contradictory evidence”. It was noted that Baroness Warsi’s answer that “we are currently reviewing our policy towards BIOT…do not have a timetable for the conclusion of this review but will update Parliament as soon as we are in a position to do so” avoided the question. It was also at odds with the offer of an independent scientific review made by the FCO Minister in charge of BIOT, Mark Simmonds, at a recent meeting which included the Chairman and Vice chairman of the APPG. Members did not understand whether the scientific review was separate from or subsumed within the wider review. They felt that both were necessary, especially as the scientific review would be independent.

 

The Group went on to discuss the nature and timetable for the proposed review. They were informed about a proposal put to the Minister by Mr Gifford that the review should include an independent study and take up where the 2002 Feasibility Study had left off, comprising a cost/benefit analysis, evaluation of livelihood strategies, consultation with Chagossians and an objective examination of sources of funding.

 

Members understood that the FCO had strengthened the team of officials undertaking the review and that it was the intention of Ministers and officials that it should be open, transparent and inclusive, look at every aspect of resettlement and consult all stakeholders. They questioned whether there should be an independent element to the review. The Group also understood that the Foreign Secretary would make a statement to Parliament before the recess in mid July about the progress, parameters and timetable of the review. Members noted that 7 months will have elapsed to reach only this first stage. They felt that it should be an oral statement to allow for follow-up questions. They accepted that it was a complex process but that there had to be a deadline so that the recommendations of the review could be agreed and implemented well before the end of the Coalition Government in May 2015. It was up to Ministers to ensure a deadline was set. They suggested that apart from Chagossian and conservation groups, the US, Mauritius and Parliament, other stakeholders should include DfID, the Human Rights Subcommittee of the European Parliament and the Minority Rights Group. Members decided to ask for a 90 minute Commons debate as soon as possible so that the views of MPs could inform the Foreign Secretary’s statement. It was felt that a similar debate should be held in the Lords in September.

 

Members considered the research paper by the House of Commons Library published on 22 May, entitled “Disputes over BIOT: a survey”. They felt that this was a helpful contribution to the debate and commended the author Jon Lunn. They also considered two papers on the controversy concerning the  number of Chagossians deported, one by Wenban-Smith, entitled “Population of the Chagos 1820-1973” published by Chagos News (CCT) in Jan 2012 which concluded that the number could be as few as 500 and a much more detailed response by Dunne and Gifford published in Population, Space and Place entitled “A Dispossessed People: the Depopulation of the Chagos Archipelago, 1965-1973” which concluded that “the policy of the British Government drove between 1,328 and 1,522 Ilois into exile and poverty on Mauritius and a further 322 on the Seychelles”.

 

The next meeting and 5th annual AGM will be held on 16th July.

 

David Snoxell

Coordinator of the Chagos Islands (BIOT) APPG

 

At a time when APPG’s have received bad press coverage thanks to a BBC documentary on “cash for access” of British parliamentary MPs, it is worth pointing out that the Chagos Islands APPG simply operate without any funding at all and survive solely on the goodwill of the members involved.

 

It was a very busy month of Chagos-related parliamentary questions and Andrew Rosindell got us underway on the 3rd June when he asked:

 

“what his policy is on the teaching of the history of British Overseas Territories in schools.”

Elizabeth Truss (South West Norfolk, Conservative)

“We believe that all pupils should be taught the history of Britain, and that that teaching should include the history of the British empire, as well as the wider impact of Britain and Britons on world history.

We are currently considering responses to the public consultation on our proposals for the new history curriculum published earlier this year, and will make further announcements in due course.”

 

Our Association will eagerly await further announcements on this.  One can only wonder how the new history curriculum will be packaged to describe the atrocities committed against the Chagos Islanders.

 

4th June- Lord Ramsbotham:

 

“To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether they will commission an independent study to re evaluate the science and practicality of resettlement of the Chagos Archipelago, in consultation with the Chagossians, in the light of the recent report by Dr Paul Kench which concluded that the 2002 feasibility study used untested models and contradictory evidence.”

 

Baroness Warsi (Conservative)

“We are currently reviewing our policy on the British Indian Ocean Territory. We do not have a timetable for the conclusion of this review but will update Parliament as soon as we are in a position to do so.”

 

5th June- Andrew Rosindell (Romford, Conservative)

“To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many civilian permits his Department has issued allowing access to the British Indian Ocean Territory (Chagos Islands) in each of the last five years.”

 

Mark Simmonds (Boston and Skegness, Conservative)

“The British Indian Ocean Territory Administration has issued 25 permits in 2013, 42 permits in 2012, 39 permits in 2011, 106 permits in 2010 and 78 permits in 2009. Permits are issued for yachts in sale passage and for any visitors to the territory.

In accordance with our legislation, contractor personnel are deemed to be in possession of a permit if their name is included in a list which is accepted by the principal immigration officer.”

 

5th June- Andrew Rosindell (Romford, Conservative)

“To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with his US counterpart on the subject of the British Indian Ocean Territory.”

 

Mark Simmonds (Boston and Skegness, Conservative)

“I have not discussed the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT) recently with my US counterpart. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office and State Department officials have regular discussions about all bilateral matters including the British Indian Ocean Territory. The most recent BIOT Pol-Mil annual talks were held in London in October 2012.”

 

5th June- Andrew Rosindell (Romford, Conservative)

“To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps his Department is taking to increase public access to the British Indian Ocean Territory (Chagos Islands).”

 

Mark Simmonds (Boston and Skegness, Conservative)

“We have no objective of increasing public access to the British Indian Ocean Territory. It is not a tourist destination. Access to Diego Garcia is limited to those needing to visit for official purposes. Mooring permits are issued to yachts in safe passage.

An increasing number of scientific expeditions have been visiting the British Indian Ocean Territory to carry out research and conservation work.

Since 2006, the British Government has been organising visits for Chagossians to the three main islands to enable them to re-visit their birth places and hold ceremonies at the graveyards of relatives. The most recent visit took place in October 2012.”

5th June- Andrew Rosindell (Romford, Conservative)

“To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many trespassers have been evicted from the British Indian Ocean Territory in the last two years.”

Mark Simmonds (Boston and Skegness, Conservative)

“In the last two years, the British Indian Ocean Territory Authorities have discovered only one case of trespassing. This was a yacht moored in the territory without a valid permit. The yacht was instructed to leave.”

 

5th June- Andrew Rosindell (Romford, Conservative)

“To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he is taking to promote accountability and good governance on Ascension Island.”

Mark Simmonds (Boston and Skegness, Conservative)

“The British Government promotes good governance and accountability in all of the Overseas Territories. Considerable effort continues to be put into encouraging active participation in politics on Ascension Island. In 2011-12, a stipend for councillors was introduced to encourage high calibre candidates, and this year money will be spent on professional training for new councillors. Representatives from the Ascension Island Council are also invited to the annual Joint Ministerial Council hosted in London, where there have been a number of seminars on improving good governance and accountability.”

 

11th June- Andrew Rosindell (Romford, Conservative)

“To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with his (a) US and (b) Mauritian counterpart on the future of the British Indian Ocean Territory (Chagos Islands).”

Mark Simmonds (Boston and Skegness, Conservative)

“I have had no recent discussions on the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT) with my US counterparts. Foreign and Commonwealth Office and State Department officials have regular discussions about all bilateral matters, including BIOT. The most recent US-UK BIOT Pol-Mil annual talks were held in London in October 2012. BIOT is often raised in our bilateral discussions with Mauritius.”

 

 

 

 

11th June- Lord Ashcroft (Conservative)

“To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of An assessment of environmental protection frameworks in the UK Overseas Territories produced by the Foundation for International Environmental Law and Development and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.”

Lord Wallace of Saltaire (Whip, House of Lords; Liberal Democrat)

“We are working with representatives from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, Overseas Territory Governors’ Offices and relevant government departments to address the issues highlighted in the report.

While environmental issues are devolved to territory governments, the Government are committed to working with them to address the important issues raised in the report.”

 

17th June- Grahame Morris (Easington, Labour)

“To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent representations he has received from the US administration on the possible re-settlement of Chagos islanders who wish to return to their homeland since his commitment to review the policy on re-settlement on 20 December 2012.”

Mark Simmonds (Boston and Skegness, Conservative)

“There have been no recent representations from the US administration on the possible re-settlement of the Chagossians.”

 

On the 18th June there was a series of oral answers to some questions-

 

Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North, Labour)

“What recent developments there have been in Government policy towards the Chagos islands; and if he will make a statement.”

Mark Simmonds (Boston and Skegness, Conservative)

“As my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary stated in December last year, we are taking stock of our policy on the British Indian Ocean Territory. We are engaged in a programme of consultation, including with the Chagos islanders.”

 

 

 

 

Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North, Labour)

“Will the Minister put a timetable on that consultation? He will recall that it was in the 1980s that the islanders were last able to live on the islands. Surely it is time to go beyond apologies, guarantee a right of return for the Chagos islanders to the islands, and allow limited fishing and ecological tourism on the islands, rather than having a no-take marine protection area, which is the Government’s current policy.”

Mark Simmonds (Boston and Skegness, Conservative)

“As I said in my previous response, we are undertaking a review. There is no fixed timetable for the conclusion of that exercise. It is important that the review is thorough and that it consults as wide a range of partners as possible, both inside and outside Whitehall. That cannot be rushed. However, I hope to provide the House with an update on the process before the summer recess.”

Henry Smith (Crawley, Conservative)

“I thank the Minister for his answer. May I seek assurances that consultations on the future of the Chagos islands will include representations from the Chagos islands community in this country, most of whom live in my constituency?”

Mark Simmonds (Boston and Skegness, Conservative)

“I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that question. Significant credit should be paid to him for the assiduous way in which he represents the Chagossian community living primarily in his constituency. I confirm that we will be consulting his constituents and Chagossians who live in Manchester, as well as those who live in Mauritius and the Seychelles.”

Thomas Docherty (Dunfermline and West Fife, Labour)

“As I understand it, the current arrangement with the US Administration expires at the end of 2014. Will the Minister assure the House that, notwithstanding the Whitehall role of the base, the Government will make it clear to the US Administration that we will not simply roll over that deal?”

Mark Simmonds (Boston and Skegness, Conservative)

“If I may correct the hon. Gentleman, the existing agreement runs out in December 2016. The agreement set out in 1966 stipulated that it would automatically be rolled over unless one of the parties disputes it between 2014 and 2016. We welcome the US presence in Diego Garcia, which offers a shared strategic asset for both countries, but the hon. Gentleman has alighted on some of the main issues about resettlement—first is security, and the other serious issue is the potential impact on the Untied Kingdom taxpayer, which must be looked at thoroughly.”

DR LAURA JEFFERY

Edinburgh University Researcher and Lecturer Dr Laura Jeffery contacted us recently to provide us with her article about the potential human environment, and looked at the debate surrounding the future of the islands as a whole.

 

“During the MPA consultation, the FCO’s consultation facilitator, Rosemary Stevenson,

did not visit the largest Chagossian community in Mauritius, but she did hold an

hour-long videoconference with the elected representatives of the Chagossian Welfare

Fund Board in Mauritius. Olivier Bancoult, the appointed chair of this Board and the

leader of the largest Chagossian organization, the Chagos Refugees Group (CRG),

responded at length. As part of his submission, he stated that:

 

‘We want to return to our homeland. And this is why … in the past we presented a resettlement plan, and in our resettlement plan we mentioned … conservation.  We made a place for conservation because we as Chagossians were the real guardians of the environment, having living there for many generations, and we don’t understand how suddenly the UK government come out with a plan to declare Chagos as a Marine Protected Area and at the same time forget that on Diego Garcia we have a huge US military base which is for defence purposes and can damage any of environment.We as Chagossian people have fundamental rights, wish to return, wish to ask you, to let you know that we people, we are not against conservation, but what we say is that our fundamental right should be taken into consideration. It’s the most important. And we don’t understand how suddenly, after so many years, how the British government had earned money on fishing licenses, giving fishing licenses to many companies to fish in the region of Chagos, where no money, even peanuts, have been spent for the

welfare of Chagossian community.’

 

Like Bancoult, the majority of those Chagossians who responded to the consultation

– amounting to several hundred people, mostly in Mauritius and Seychelles – opposed

all three proposed options for a no-take MPA around Chagos. A significant minority of Chagossian responses – consisting of a large proportion of responses from Chagossians in the UK, but few of those in Mauritius or Seychelles –said they would only support a no-take MPA if it incorporated exceptions for pelagic tuna and artisanal fishing by Chagos islanders. Numerically, however, the Chagossian rejection of the three proposed no-take options was insignificant in comparison to support for the proposed MPA from over quarter of a million signatories of on-line petitions organized by Avaaz, Care2, Greenpeace, and the Chagos Environment Network (CEN), a coalition of conservation organizations led by the Chagos Conservation Trust (CCT)”

 

DAVID SNOXELL TRIBUNE FOLLOW UP

As highlighted in last months edition, the 26th May marked the 40th anniversary of the final deportations of Chagossians from their islands as part of the process to “sweep and sanitise” ahead of the arrival of the US military.  APPG Coordinator David Snoxell took the opportunity to follow up on his February piece in the Left-wing magazine Tribune.  He suggested that aside from the legal avenues currently being explored, diplomacy still represented the best hope of a solution, particularly in 2015:

 

“2015 will be a crucial year for Chagos– not only is it the end of the coalition’s term of office, but December 2014 is the deadline by which the 1966 agreement between Britain and the United States on the use of the BIOT can be renegotiated.  And, in 2015, the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) takes place in Mauritius. Since the signing, in March, by the Queen and Commonwealth countries of the Commonwealth Charter, which sets out universal values and standards of human rights that all members must abide by, there is bound to be a sharp focus on how the United Kingdom is meeting its obligations to restoring the fundamental human rights of the Chagossian people. As many live in Mauritius, and as the Mauritian Government is committed to facilitating their return, when the sovereignty issue is resolved, this will clearly be a lively issue at CHOGM.”

 

Our very own Sabrina Jean recently celebrated her 40th birthday which of course means she was the one of the first to be born in exile.  It’s a coincidence which makes us all take a step back and appreciate the gravity of the time during which this heinous crime has not been realistically addressed and redeemed.

 

MARINE PROTECTION AREA (MPA) JUDICIAL REVIEW

Earlier this month the High Court in London published its ruling for the Judicial Review into the MPA which had taken place in April this year.  As many of you by now will be aware the news was not what we had been hoping for as the UK government’s 2010 decision to create the zone around the Islands was upheld by the High Court.  Lord Justice Richards and Mr Justice Mitting ruled that the MPA was “compatible with EU law”.  John Aston from the Independent newspaper reported on the disappointing announcement:

 

“The MPA was created by top British diplomat Colin Roberts in his role as commissioner for the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT) on the instructions of the then Foreign Secretary in April 2010.

 

Chagossian lawyers said the moved followed British consultations with the US during which the Americans were assured the use of their base on Diego Garcia would not be adversely affected by the MPA.

 

Mr Roberts denied under cross-examination at the High Court that the marine park was created for the “improper purpose” of keeping the Chagossians out, as the US wanted, and said it was for environmental and conservation purposes.

 

Today the judges accepted his evidence. Lord Justice Richards said “a truly remarkable set of circumstances” would have to have existed for the case on improper purpose to be right, involving a long-term decision “somewhere deep in Government” to frustrate Chagossian ambitions by promoting the MPA.”

 

The full judgment of the controversial ruling can be found here.

 

Nick Harvey writing for the New Internationalist was also critical and described it as “Britain’s shame”:

 

“…the government’s good intentions were brought into question by a US cable published by Wikileaks in December 2010, in which the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s Director of Overseas Territories, Colin Roberts, reportedly said that the protected area should have ‘no human footprints’ or ‘Man Fridays’ and that such a reserve would make it ‘difficult, if not impossible’ for former residents to pursue their resettlement claims. A key moment in this week’s court case was when judges ruled that the cable, or copies of it held by the media, could not be used as evidence due to the Diplomatic Privileges Act, 1964.”

 

Long time supporter Dr Sean Carey condemned the High Court ruling and suggested the process amounted to little more than a conspiracy:

 

“Nevertheless, what was accepted in court is that the then Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, realised that the proposed MPA would be a real feather in his and Gordon Brown’s green cap just before the UK general election was called. Miliband overruled more cautious senior FCO officials who thought that it was likely to cause trouble internationally. The MPA was duly declared on 1 April 2010 by Colin Roberts.

 

The timing was very interesting. It came hours after the National Assembly in Mauritius was dissolved in preparation for the island’s general election, thus wrong-footing the local politicians, all of whom, despite political differences support Mauritius’s claim under international law to sovereignty of the Archipelago. Coincidence? Well, the judges should have dug deeply to find out the truth. In any event, Mauritius has taken its case against the MPA to a UN tribunal. It will be heard next year.

 

It was Karl Popper who pointed out that conspiracies do not happen as often as many people think they do. He was right. Of course, that does not mean that conspiracies do not happen at all. The judges should revisit the Archer novels.”

 

APPG Coordinator David Snoxell highlighted the political motives orchestrated by the ruling while writing in the Mauritius Times earlier this month:

 

“The documents released for the judicial review provide fascinating insights into the advice being submitted to the Foreign Secretary, leading up to the announcement of the MPA on 1 April 2010.   Officials cautioned that the results of the public consultation should be announced but not rushed, pending careful “management” of the Chagossians and Mauritius. “There was further work to do with stakeholders before establishing an MPA.”  Officials warned that “Our best defence against the legal challenges which are likely to be forthcoming is to demonstrate a conscientious and careful decision making process. A rapid decision now would undermine that… We would expect to recommend a phased introduction of a no-take MPA which would give time to put a sustainable funding package in place.”

 

Within hours David Milband brushed aside official advice and decided on an immediate designation of a full ‘no-take’ MPA. On 31 March senior officials made last ditch attempts to head the Foreign Secretary off. One noted, “I think this approach risks deciding (and being seen to decide) policy on the hoof for political timetabling reasons rather than on the basis of expert advice and public consultation. That’s a very different approach to the one we recommended yesterday… to be developed over time with the involvement of many stakeholders and to be based on science as well as politics.” That evening officials were instructed to prepare a statement announcing the MPA the following day just as Parliament went into the Easter recess. It sparked emergency debates in both Houses five days later.”

 

Erin Conway-Smith wrote a very eye-catching piece for the Global Post and laid bare the tragedy of the Chagossians and exposed the hypocrisy of the British government’s rhetoric on upholding human rights:

 

“A classified US government cable published by WikiLeaks quotes a British diplomat as saying in 2009 that the marine park — the world’s largest — would prevent the Chagossians from resettling on the islands, whose isolated location is strategically advantageous for the US military.

 

‘The British government always presents itself as a champion of human rights, but what they did on the Chagos Islands was a crime against humanity,’ said Olivier Bancoult, head of the advocacy Chagos Refugee Group based in Mauritius.”

 

It was also interesting to note the reaction of Argentina which was best illustrated by an article in the Buenos Aires Herald which highlighted the contradictory stance of the UK government when dealing with the Chagos Islanders compared to their position over the Falkland Islands:

 

“A diplomatic cable leaked by the secret-spilling site WikiLeaks said Colin Roberts, commissioner for British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT), told a US official that the marine park “would keep the Chagossians from returning.” Nonetheless, the cable was not used as evidence.

 

Professor David Vine, an anthropologist who has studied the Chagossian case at American University in Washington DC, described the ruling as ‘outrageous.’

 

He told the Herald that the ‘court pretended that a diplomatic cable showing that the UK and US governments have again colluded in finding a new way to keep the Chagossians from returning to their homeland did not exist.’

 

Vine agrees that the UK is doing whatever it takes to hold onto its conquered territories: ‘The way the UK government has treated the Chagossians compared to the people of the Malvinas has everything to do with UK’ military and economic interests, as well as their relationship with the US, and has long smacked of racist double standards.’”

 

CHAGOS REFUGEES GROUP (CRG) STATEMENT

Immediately following the High Court ruling, the CRG leader Olivier Bancoult provided the following statement in response to the announcement:

 

“Today the High Court in London has decided that the MPA which was imposed by the last Government without the approval of the UK Parliament is not legally invalid. This is disappointing to Chagossians some of whom will no longer be able to sustain themselves by continuing our traditional fishing rights which is the only link we are allowed with our homeland since the UK unlawfully expelled us from our islands.

 

We are examining with our lawyers the detail of this judgment, and if advised, will seek to challenge this decision on appeal.

 

But there have been some very important developments which the bringing of this case has achieved in this latest legal case in our long struggle to return home.

 

There are three very significant matters all of which the Court considered inadmissible or irrelevant to its deliberations, but which the Coalition Government will no doubt wish to take very seriously.

 

First, the Court decided on purely technical grounds that the US cable, in which officials informed the USA that the MPA was the most effective long term way to exclude the Chagossian people from returning, was inadmissible. Whilst the rest of the world therefore sees what went on behind closed doors, the judges refused to consider this evidence. Chagossians believe the world is not so blinkered and even Ministers will wish to reject this discriminatory policy.

 

Second, the FCO surprised us all by producing its long-lost file on the so-called feasibility study which was used by the last Government as a pretext for abolishing our right of return. Ignoring the obvious feasibility of Chagossians returning home (and the superb living conditions on Diego Garcia enjoyed by 1,500 servicemen and 2,000 civilian workers) this study claimed that our return would be costly and precarious. But after years of denial of its existence we have now seen the file on this report which our advisers have examined. This examination shows that the feasibility study was not based on sound science and were exaggerated and alarmist.

 

Third, our advisers have now commissioned an independent review of this feasibility study by an expert on small islands, Professor Kench, who has shown how resilient these islands are and how the challenge of global warming need not prevent our return home.

 

 

 

Chagossians are the natural guardians of our beautiful islands. Many were in far better condition when we were forced to leave, than they are now. The military base has caused huge amounts of coral blasting, has resulted in the destruction of vegetation and the concreting over of large areas of Diego Garcia. Oils spills have seeped into the freshwater reservoirs and the coral base of the islands.

A deepwater harbour for a vast military arsenal has been created where once we used to catch fish for our sustenance.

 

We are in favour, as the judges recognised, of a high level of conservation in our natural paradise. Our return will not endanger the beautiful corals or remaining fish stocks in any way.

 

But our right to return is fundamental and will never be surrendered. It is high time that the UK made this resolution of our plight a high priority.

 

The outcome of this appeal does not affect our endeavours insofar as other avenues are concerned. We shall accordingly continue our legal battle and we are strongly convinced that ultimately victory will be ours!”

 

BIOT POLICY REVIEW- REQUEST FOR STAKEHOLDER VIEWS

The Foreign Office has finally requested feedback for its “taking stock” process which commenced following the ECHR ruling last December.  Unfortunately this critical stage of the process will only be open to feedback until 31st July 2013.  It was a consultation which begun six months ago but which offers a window of little over a month for any feedback from us and our supporters.  I think Dr Sean Carey could possibly write a further section in his article about conspiracies.  Dr Sangeeta Ahuja from the BIOT Policy Review Team offered the following invitation on the 26th June:

 

“As you may be aware, on 18 December 2012, the Foreign Secretary said he was going to take stock of our policy towards the resettlement of the British Indian Ocean Territory. Since then there has been discussion at the highest level on the future of BIOT and our evolving policy.

Together with my colleague Melanie Capelin, my role in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is to start the process of engaging all relevant stakeholders as part of the initial stages of this review. Some stakeholders will have been contacted already and we hope to hold face-to-face meetings with as wide a cross section as possible during this planning process.

We are very keen to hear all views on the key/main policy changes that interested parties would like to see. I am aware, for example, that a new feasibility study is something that a number of stakeholders would like us to put forward.  This will enable us to give Ministers options on how to proceed, based on a wide range of views. If you have views on this or other aspects of our BIOT policy, I would welcome any comments by 31 July 2013.  Please send all replies by email or hard copy to the addresses in the email signature below.  Given the wide range of stakeholders we are approaching, however, we may not be able to reply to individual letters.”

 

The BIOT policy team can be contacted here.

 

ADAM BURTON

Last month Something Else paper’s Adam Burton very generously invited our supporters to join him and colleagues for a series of screenings of the John Pilger’s “Stealing a Nation” documentary in Hackney in East London.

There is now just one final chance to participate in this unique opportunity which will be taking place on Tuesday 2nd July at 7.30pm.  Further information can be obtained by visiting this website for further information.  Special thanks again to Adam Burton for facilitating these screenings and we hope the Chagos food recipes went down well.