November 2005 update

  • Firstly and most importantly: The Court of Appeal hearing to challenge the Orders in Council will be at 10:30am on Tuesday, 6 December at the Royal Courts of Justice on the Strand. The Orders in Council banned the islanders of Diego Garcia and the Chagos archipelago from ever resettling their homeland – and were made into law without consulting parliament in June last year.
    The number of the court will be confirmed at 2pm on Monday 5 December. If you wish to attend – or just to meet up with us beforehand – please ring 0207 947 6195 and ask which court “Bancoult versus Secretary Of State, Commonwealth Office and President Of Council” will be in. Alternatively, visit www.hmcourts-service.gov.uk and click “Court Hearing” in the purple box. Scroll and find!

    We look forward to meeting up with any who can get there!

  • We are grateful for all donations, which we have been able to use to assist the CRG with air fares and expenses for the trip. See the How you can help section for details of how to donate. The Mauritian Foreign Minister, Hon. Madun Dulloo, and former President Cassam Uteem have put their support behind the Chagos Refugee Group (CRG) in Mauritius. They attended a funding raising event of the CRG, who are working hard to raise the money needed for their representatives to make the trip to London.

  • The Foreign Office has said it has a boat lined up to take older Chagossian exiles to visit ancestral graves. The Mauritian Government is allowing it to charter the “Trochetia” for the long promised and oft-postponed trip, and dates and details are being discussed. Much of the preparatory work has been done, the Foreign Office says, including the logistics of transfers from the ship to the outer islands, and provision of equipment. Let’s hope it happens this time!

  • Letters to MPs about the Chagos issue have generated enough duplicated, self-excusing replies from the Foreign Office to paper many rooms – let’s start being more specific.
    Please ask your MP to:
    1. Apply to the Foreign Affairs Committee for a review of the way the Chagossians have been treated (or rather ill-treated) by successive governments.
    2. Ask your MP to apply for a one and a half hour Adjournment Debate to discuss the whole problem of the exiled islanders.
    Letters addressed to your MP at the House of Commons, London will reach them. Email addresses can be supplied by this Association on request.

  • Since Dr Mark Spalding’s article we have had several enquiries wondering how much damage has been done to the environment by the USA in the construction and continued use of the base on Diego Garcia. Potentially far more damaging, surely, than the visiting yachties or the indigenous people.

  • Our attention has been drawn to this gem from Tony Blair’s 1997 election manifesto:
    “With a new Labour government, Britain will be an advocate of Human Rights and democracy the world over….Labour wants Britain to be respected in the world for the integrity with which it conducts its foreign relations.” Let’s start with the Chagossians and their human rights, Prime Minister!

  • In his inspirational book Tory Island – The island that wouldn’t go to sleep, Father Diarmuid O’Peicin says that every community is special, and its cultural tradition is shown in the way its people live, talk, and interact with each other. A culture which becomes a handful of dust is to be avoided by any State that has respect for itself. No islanders should become footnotes in the works of history.
    Father O’Peicin’s book is available from Trafford Publishing (UK) Ltd.
    Tel: 01270 251 396
    Fax: 01270 254983
    Email : bookstore@trafford.com

  • Here is an extract from another book; J Thompson’s Only the sun remembers – a wartime memoir:
    “Diego Garcia is the fisherman’s paradise; the incredible Valhalla where all lies come true, where two exaggerating arms cannot span the fish he caught; where there is neither doubt nor hope but only the certainty of catching fish until his arm is tired or the line snaps. Until there is no longer room to move in the boat, until there are sufficient fish to feed a shipful of hungry men. Fishing in paradise, in the kind waters of greedy and ignorant fish; dream fish, fish weighing ten, twenty, one hundred pounds.”
    Fresh fish was an enormously important part of Chagossian diet (and something much missed when exiled to Mauritius). A Chagossian man could catch a fish in the time a woman could get a fire going to cook it.

  • Finally, on Saturday 26 November, from 10am to 4pm, the UK Chagos Support Association will be manning a stall at the Second Bradford Peace and Crafts Fair, at the Victoria Hall at Saltaire, Shipley. There will be plenty going on: live music, activities for children, delicious food as well as lots of craft stalls to buy from. We look forward to meeting any supporters who are able to get there.