September 2006 update

  • The government is pressing ahead with its appeal despite having been beaten on this issue twice in the courts. It is taxpayers’ money they are using – money which could be put to better use. The hearing is expected to take place early next year.

  • At the end of last June, the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) adopted the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. This asserts that indigenous peoples worldwide should have the right to restitution of land and resources taken from them. The HRC voted by a margin of 30 – 2 to approve the declaration which calls for indigenous people to be free from discrimination and have a right to consider themselves different. The Commission for Human Rights (which was replaced by the HRC earlier this year) had been negotiating the declaration for indigenous peoples for eleven years.
    The HRC also adopted a resolution endorsing the draft International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, which would require signatories to refrain from engaging in forced disappearances. The convention now goes to the General Assembly.

  • Any correspondence with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office at the moment (even via MPs) just gets a curt “the matter is sub judice and we cannot discuss”. This is a huge copout and reinforces the view that they are simply using the law as a delaying tactic.
    Here are some questions for your MP to ask which can be answered:
    1. What about another trip to their homeland for some more of the Chagossians? Numbers on the only trip so far were limited to one hundred.
    2. What is the total cost to the taxpayer so far in legal fees from 2000 onwards in order to deny the Chagossians their human rights?
    3. Will you please ask the Foreign Affairs Select Committee to hold a full enquiry into how the Chagossian (and Ascension) Islanders have been treated and not just to listen to the FCO self-justification?
    4. Will you please support John Austin MP in getting BIOT (Chagos Islands) included in the UK Overseas Territories Association along with Falklands, Gibraltar etc?

  • We have heard from Olivier Bancoult that the Chagos Refugees Group (CRG) have had sets of eleven postcards printed based on the visit to their homeland earlier this year. We will let you know when we have a price for these and perhaps you could buy some for your own use and sell some to help raise money for the Chagossian cause.

  • Allen Vincatassin in Crawley tells us that they will be celebrating the fourth anniversary of their first arrival in the UK on the September 16 with an art competition for the young people and a social evening. He also plans to meet with ministers this week.

  • Thank you to those who have sent financial help this month. Your money is being used to repair more homes. Sometimes all it takes is four bags of cement (for Claudia Michel) or four planks (for Denise Raphael). Veronique Antalika’s house caught fire and five corrugated sheets were needed. The wooden posts of one lady’s home were giving way and considered dangerous. When we say “homes” we are talking about very basic structures – see our photos section to get an idea. Another project we are prepared to help fund is spectacles. Consultation is done free of charge by a member of the British College of Ophthalmic Opticians and we pay for frames and lenses.

  • Here are some dates for your diary:
    1. September 21 at 8.40pm: John Pilger hopes to attend a screening of his award-winning film Stealing a Nation at the Barbican in London ,Cinema 1. Olivier Bancoult and Richard Gifford (the solicitor who has fought long and hard for the Chagossian cause) are planning on being there to answer questions, so please go along and meet them. If you are going and would like to meet up with other supporters before or after the screening, please contact Daniel Simpson. Or just turn up and make yourself known.
    2. October 29 at 2pm: Annual General Meeting of this Association at the Friends Meeting House in Keighley. All are welcome.
    3. November 11: Bradford Peace Fair at Saltaire. More details next month.