September 2008 update

  • The Annual General Meeting of the UK Chagos Support Association will be held on Sunday 19 October from noon (access from 11.30am). The location, as last year, is downstairs at Pizza Express, 46 Moreton Street, London SW1V 2PB (click here for map). The nearest underground station is Pimlico. Food and drinks can be bought at the restaurant at your own expense.

  • The UK Chagos Support Association has been given a grant to run the All Party Parliamentary Group. The work will be done by Iain Orr and will be very valuable in the future when the House of Lords gives its verdict. We thank Iain for the excellent work he has done so far.

  • Parliament is currently in recess but some questions are being answered by ministers. Edward Davey (Lib Dem Shadow Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs) asked the Foreign Secretary David Miliband whether, further to his statement on 21 February that Diego Garcia had been used for special rendition, there is an official log of the landing times and take-off times of the two planes carrying detainees.

    In his written answer on 17 September David Miliband said: “Records of flight departures and arrivals on Diego Garcia are generally held for a period of between three and five years by the island authorities for administration purposes. There are no flight records still held by the island authorities that cover the period when the two cases of rendition occurred.”

  • The Chagos Refugees Group (CRG) in Mauritius recently held a fair and a dance party to raise funds for travel to the UK. The registration of second and third generation Chagossians has been completed. There will be a Chagossian day celebration on 3 November to mark the landmark High Court victory in 2000 – more on this soon.

  • Sabrina Jean and others have now set up the UK branch of the CRG in Crawley, have registered as a voluntary group, and have held a general assembly.

  • UKCSA had some urgent requests for help with house repairs in Mauritius. Thanks to your generosity, we were able to help pay for materials. All work is pretty basic with Chagossians supplying the labour and the Reverend Mario Li Hing and his congregation providing professional expertise. £250 will buy ten corrugated iron sheets, six sturdy posts and nails.

  • Olivier Bancoult attended the international conference organised by Dr Sandra Evers in Amsterdam last month on the fate of the Chagossians since their eviction from the Chagos islands. It was well attended with lots of lively discussion. The two days covered a wide range of issues with topics including UK and international law, Chagos history and the contemporary social condition of the Chagossian diaspora.

  • Allen Vincatassin of the Diego Garcian Society tells us that Allen’s Institute has been launched in Crawley. The institute aims at providing English, IT and personal development courses for the Chagossian community. This project is supported by the Diego Garcian Society and the Crawley Council for Voluntary Service. The Diego Garcian community and other Chagos Islanders will be participating in the local Black History Celebration in October.