UK Press Breaks Silence while British Ministers deceive UK Parliament re Diego Garcia
Finally, hip hip hurray! After a total black-out, there is an article in the British press that begins to acknowledge the possibility that Britain may not own Chagos! (1).
Press silence broken
An article in The Guardian on 16 November (2) signed Owen Bowcott was swiftly followed by a Daily Mail one. The articles come after 6 weeks’ work by a LALIT team, following the Resolution at the LALIT Conference on Diego Garcia to write to journalists abroad, challenging them on their silence on the UN General Assembly Resolution on the agenda right now challenging Britain for stealing Chagos from Mauritius.
This UN Resolution so worries Britain that it took the unusual step of seeking a rare 6-month “pause” before a UN debate and vote. The Mauritian-sponsored Resolution challenging UK sovereignty over Chagos (the archipelago which Britain, in its colonial mind-set, calls “British Indian Ocean Territory”) is already assured of support from African union and Non-Aligned countries, as well as the ACP and the Group of 77. It calls for an International Court of Justice hearing on the issue of Mauritian sovereignty over Chagos. It is symptomatic of the British State’s utter panic that it is trying to avoid what is merely an “Advisory Opinion”. The Mauritian move, which followed an ultimatum to the UK on 17 May 2016 in the National Assembly, coming after literally decades of political struggle by organizations in Mauritius like LALIT to force the often cowardly Mauritian State to act, has already succeeded in provoking a first-ever response from the USA on the Diego Garcia sovereignty issue: the USA signed a very rude and threatening “joint communiqué with the UK in June this year. There was silence on all of this in the UK press, however.
Who Owns Diego Garcia?
For some reason the British press cannot face up to Britain having stolen Diego Garcia.
There has been, and still is, for example, complete silence in the whole of British media since March 2015 on another major development on Britain’s shaky claim of sovereignty over Diego Garcia/Chagos. The Tribunal under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea handed down a binding judgment against Britain for its cheek in declaring a Marine Protected Area around Chagos. Anyone wanting background information should read Geoffrey Robertson QC’s article “Who Owns Diego Garcia?” (3)
More recently, Chagos Refugee Group leader, Olivier Bancoult was part of a joint delegation with the Mauritian Prime Minister, Sir Aneerood Jugnauth, claiming Mauritian sovereignty at the UN. This also was not seen as “news”, despite the fact that Olivier Bancoult’s multiple Court cases on the right to return for Chagossians has garnered high-profile support from celebrities like Amal Clooney, Ben Fogle, Benjamin Zephaniah and Philippa Gregory. There was Olivier Bancoult, sitting in the UN General Assembly in the Prime Minister’s delegation, and yet not even one photo in the British press.
Olivier Bancoult then announced on 2 October 2016 that the British had offered the Chagos Refugees Group £20,000 at a meeting on his way to the UN General Assembly, and that he took this as a bribe for him not to be in the Mauritian delegation. The British State issued a formal denial. Olivier Bancoult announced that he has a recording of the conversation. All this, too, was not seen by the British press as “news”.
Disarray as Empires Collapse
Although the British Empire collapsed over 50 years ago, it was, even as it was disintegrating, re-incorporated as junior partner into an alliance with the USA, which invigorated it and has propped it up until now. But as the USA’s own hegemony, so essential for an Empire, is also developing significant cracks, Britain is, as it were, re-collapsing. The sharp rise of nationalist and other forms of desperate, even fascist, ideology in both the UK and USA, like the Brexit and Trump votes, is a sign of this process of collapse that comes as hegemony starts cracking. The process is far from over.
The UK’s 50-year alliance with the USA has been, and still is, aptly symbolized by their conspiracy over Diego Garcia/Chagos. Their plot was for Britain to steal Chagos, depopulate it and then lease Diego Garcia to the USA for its planned military base – just at the time Britain in the mid-1960s, in undignified haste, was implementing its policy of closing all its bases “East of Suez”. And their joint military occupation of part of Mauritius, that is to say Diego Garcia and all of Chagos, is still in the news today.
And when you read the words last week of the British Assistant Foreign Minister, Sir Alan Duncan, speaking in the name, he said, of Baroness Anelay of St Johns, who was speaking no doubt in the name of their main Minister Boris Johnson, you know that Junior Ministers are being set up to do the dirty work of the executive pulling wool over the eyes of elected MPs. The words were not just off-the-cuff rubbish either. This speech on 16 November, 2016 in the House of Commons was under the title “update on the British Indian Ocean Territory: Written Statement” (4). The speech is replete with the tell-tale signs of the collapse of an empire: panic leading to cynicism, shifty statements, gross omissions, downright lies and veiled threats, all expressed with a disdain that is almost comic-strip frivolous.
Background for Beginners
Let’s start with some de-coding first: The phrase “British Indian Ocean Territory” (BIOT for short) was the laborious name given to the 64 Chagos Archipelago islands when Britain stole them from Mauritius, a many-islanded country about to get its Independence. This theft was part of a conspiracy with the USA which would become the “receiver of stolen goods”. This was in 1965, and it came after a UN Resolution (5) specifically warning Britain that it would be illegal to go ahead with such a plan. You can’t keep part of a colony as you give the other bit “independence”. By definition. By the UN Charter. And by UN Resolutions.
Britain steals Chagos from Mauritius
So, Britain did the bizarre thing of stealing the Islands, while at the very same time closing all its bases “East of Suez”, and then setting up a brand new colony “East of Suez”.
It also stole some Seychelles Islands to put into the new BIOT colony. These have since quite rightly been reclaimed and are today part of Seychelles. This proves the illegality of the confiscation of both Seychelles and Mauritian islands.
And Britain gave its new colony a brand new name, like a criminal having to start a new life under a new identity: “BIOT”. The Chagos, after all, is Mauritius. So, Britain changed the name of the bit it kept. Not that anyone in the world ever gave recognition to this outrageous anachronistic colony.
As from August 2016, there is a Resolution on the Agenda of the UN General Assembly, put there by the Mauritian State – at long last, we might add, after more than 40 years of struggle by organizations like LALIT. The British State got into such a tizz about the Resolution that it called for a special, rare procedure of a 6-month delay “putting on hold” the General Assembly debate and vote. Britain cannot bear the very thought of the Resolution, which in fact calls for nothing more than an “Advisory opinion” from the International Court of Justice.
The Resolution against Britain is still on the Agenda, even though on “hold”. And the Mauritian State, thoroughly and rightly disgusted by the Sir Alan Duncan statement when he was speaking in the name of Baroness Anelay of St Johns no doubt speaking in the name of their Minister Boris Johnson, no doubt speaking in the name of Theresa May, issued a stinging communiqué, vowing to stand firm maintaining its UN General Assembly Resolution to get the matter heard at the ICJ. We call on the Mauritian Government to keep to its stand.
Curiously, and we cannot explain how this works, there seems to have been a complete press black-out in Britain. It was only on 17 November, 2016 that the British public could read an article on the subject of Mauritian decolonization – the article in The Guardian.
UK and USA “depopulate” the Chagos
Britain and the USA, after stealing the islands, then proceeded to forcibly remove the entire population of Chagos to Mauritius’ main island. This is what Sir Alan Duncan in the name of Baroness Anelay of St Johns in the name of Boris Johnson is referring to in his written statement to the British Parliament this week when he admits that what the British State perpetrated was “wrong”. The drafting carefully avoids any actual apology from even a junior minister, speaking in the name of another junior minister. This is what “we look back with deep regret” at, he says.
The Statement notes “the community’s emotional ties to BIOT”. This little phrase is another colonial give-away. The only memories of BIOT, as opposed to Chagos, that Chagossians have is of being hounded out of the “BIOT”, of having their dogs “gassed to death” on the “BIOT”, and then finally having been starved off the “BIOT”, some stuffed into the holds of ships and carted away, and being banned from BIOT by Queens Orders-in-Council in 1965 and then by new Queens Orders-in-Council of 2004! Their emotional ties were, and are, not with the “BIOT, but with “Chagos”, often with the island their family came from originally – Diego Garcia, Peros Banos, Salomon, Six Islands or Egmont – and not with the colony set up there in order to expel them.
The Disgraceful Secretive Military Base on Diego Garcia
Anyway, the USA then gradually built what is now a notorious, military base on Diego Garcia, where renditions were carried out – for years on end this torture by the USA was denied by the US and lied about in the British Parliament – and where cluster bombs are illegally stockpiled. B-52’s took off from the Diego Garcia runway to bomb civilians in Afghanistan and Iraq in wars now generally accepted as immoral, even illegal. Nuclear submarines are regularly serviced there.
British Courts Finally Expose the colonial conspiracy
In 2000, the High Court in London exposed the entire conspiracy, when Mauritian Chagossian, Olivier Bancoult and his Chagos Refugees Group challenged the British State in the British Courts. He could do this because the British had stolen the Chagos first, and only then done the “depopulation” exercise, so as well as being Mauritian, he was British and thus qualified for legal aid in Britain. He could only prepare a case from 1998 for crimes dating back to 1965-68 because the Official Secrets Act barred access to all the documents for 30 - 50 years. The series of Court Cases has been important in exposing the crimes against the Chagossians, crimes committed cynically and in cold blood by the UK and US.
But, at the same time, the reporting on the case in the media contributed to perpetuating the denial of Britain’s other crime: the dismembering of Mauritius.
British journalists, for example, could not get their heads around the fact that Olivier Bancoult and the Chagos Refugees Group are Mauritians that were turned into British subjects by a strange re-colonization under BIOT, where they lived for varying short amounts of time between the illegal excision of Chagos from the rest of Mauritius in 1965 and when they were disallowed from returning after holidays, giving birth, or getting health care in main island Mauritius, or forced on to the ships that transported them to Mauritius, up till the last trip of the Nordvaer, which removed the very last Chagossians, jammed like slaves as they were into its hold, in 1973. Olivier Bancoult is a Mauritian electrician. Other Chagossians are dockers, fishermen, university students, one has been an MP and Minister, municipality workers, one is a newspaper editor, hotel workers, restaurant workers, cleaners – just like other Mauritians – while also still having been displaced Chagossians.
“Marine Park” ploy exposed by Wikileaks
But then Britain was exposed by Wikileaks in 2010 as having cynically hoodwinked British NGOs into supporting the setting up of a Marine Protected Area around the Chagos Islands, which are not theirs, so as to attempt to reify Britain’s sovereignty claim over the stolen islands (presumably pretending the Marine Park was not adjacent to a nuclear base) – in order to prevent any chance of Mauritians, including Chagossians, getting the islands back. Mauritius challenged the Marine Park in the UN courts. The binding judgment of the Tribunal under the Convention on the Law of the Sea in March 2015 declared illegal Britain’s declaration of a Marine Park. British Ministers just hide this, or alternatively deny that this is what the judgment says. What on earth, the judges said, is Britain doing declaring a Marine Protected Area there? It is illegal. All five judges said that Britain can do nothing to Chagos without consulting Mauritius, that the islands will definitely revert to Mauritius, that meanwhile Britain can do nothing to lower the value of the Islands, that Mauritius meanwhile has fishing rights, and also has the rights to all revenue from any oil and other minerals. So, how can Britain refuse for Chagossians to go and live there without consulting Mauritius? The full Tribunal said that it was not, as a Court, habilitated to statute on sovereignty itself, but only on the control of the “sea”-related aspects, while two judges gave a minority judgement, saying that the Tribunal is habilitated and had to decide on sovereignty, and that Mauritius has, in fact, full sovereignty. More aspects of the “conspiracy” in 1965 thus continue to hit the public domain. And the judgment is binding. This is what explains the state of panic in which we see the British State today.
It is not me that uses the word “conspiracy” for all this, by the way. The highest courts of Britain have called what they did a conspiracy. And they called it worse names, too.
British Minister’s Weird Colonialist Statement
So, British Ministers have to hide all this – hide it mainly from the British people, of course. And to do this, they need to be able to count on silence from the Press.
All along, since 1965, Britain and the USA have hidden the Islands from view as far as they could, and have done all in their power to hide all their related crimes and sordid misdeeds. Lest the British people know what their leaders did. Lest the American people know what theirs did. The Bancoult Court Cases forced the existence of Chagossians on to the British State and public. For example, although Minister Alan Duncan does not use the word “Chagos” in his statement, he refers to “Chagossians”.
Mauritian State Response
The British State can no longer deny the existence of the people of Chagos. But they continue to deny the existence of “Chagos” – which is part of Mauritius. [See the Mauritian State communiqué in response to the Minister’s Statement at (5)]
And yet gradually the crimes are coming into the light of day. Not by themselves, but by a constant 40-year political campaign, spearheaded by LALIT, and at all levels.
The UK-USA Crimes outlined
The crimes of the UK-USA are three-fold:
- Setting up Diego Garcia as a “secretive base”, outside any democratic control – whether by the people of the US or UK or Mauritius – and from which the imperialist States attack, not just “defend”, on which they render and torture, where they stockpile weapons outside UN purview. All this has begun to become more and more public.
- Cutting up Mauritius before granting Independence to part of it, and keeping/stealing the rest. This has become public since Mauritius won its case before the UN Tribunal under the Convention on the Law of the Sea declaring UK’s cynical “Marine Protected Area” declared illegal, and even more so since the UN Resolution to go to the ICJ.
- Spiriting the entire population off the Chagos, and pretending, as part of a conspiracy, that the people living there for generations never existed. This aspect of the crimes has become well known amongst informed people in Britain since the first Bancoult case judgment in 2000.
What the British Minister Hides and Reveals
The crimes come to light as the US-UK empire is in the process of collapsing. The further denial that Chagos is part of Mauritius adds to the feeling of fin de regne. So, a British Minister, as Alan Duncan does in his “update on the BIOT”, can:
1. Pretend the Chagos does not exist, only the BIOT exists.
2. Pretend that Chagos is not part of Mauritius.
3. Pretend that there is no UNCLOS Tribunal judgment against Britain about the limitations to Britain’s sovereignty claim. Duncan’s “update” makes no reference to the judgment, a binding judgment. Nor does he mention that Britain can do nothing to Chagos without consulting Mauritius.
4. Pretend that there is no UN General Assembly Resolution right now on the agenda in 2016 against Britain on the sovereignty of Chagos. His “update” makes no reference to the Resolution whatsoever.
5. Pretend that Britain did not, in panic, request formally that this Resolution be put on “hold”.
6. Pretend that there is not an imminent ICJ case against Britain involving flaunting of the UN Charter and Resolutions.
7. Pretend that their own KPMG “feasibility study” for Chagossians to live on Chagos does not say that they can live there.
8. Pretend that British Courts did not in 2016 point to the importance of this new feasibility study.
9. Blithely offer blood money of 4 million pounds a year for 10 years to try to buy off Chagossians.
10. Give three different reasons for not allowing Chagossians to live on Chagos: (a) It is not feasible. (b) The British tax payer would have to fork out too much. (c) It would be ill- advised to allow “interaction” between any Chagossian community there and the US armed forces.
This means that playing along with the feasibility studies was just a means for Britain to play for time. If they lost on feasibility, they would bring up tax; if they lost on that, they would bring up “defence” i.e. raison d’etat.
11. Conclude in cavalier fashion that Britain needs the Diego Garcia base – not just for defence as it originally claimed, not just for terrorism and piracy, which it added as it went along when the original justification for the military occupation, “the Cold War”, ended 20 years ago, but now for ... wait for it ... problems of “international criminality”, if you please, and for “instability”, if you don’t please – to quote the disdainful Siamese Cats in Walt Disney classic The Lady and the Tramp. These two new “justifications” for the base are threats of new even worse “justifications” for war than the invented “weapons of mass destruction” were for the invading Iraq.
12. Pretend that renewing the 50-year lease to the USA for Diego Garcia for a further 20 years is not an “action”, nor even an “omission” causing an effect, but merely a “roll over” of something so vague you can’t see what it is i.e. “the agreements underpinning the UK/US defence facility will roll over automatically on 31 December if neither side breaks silence.”
The strange language of finance capital deployed in point number 12 reveals an attempt by the Minister not to be in flagrant violation of the binding judgement of the UNCLOS Tribunal that prohibits Britain from acting on Chagos without consulting Mauritius. The US disarray about the lease was already clear from as early as 13 January, 2016. On Radio Plus, two spokeswomen had two different lines, live. One, Ms Linda Thomas-Wingfield, US Under-Secretary of State for Africa said, “The [Diego Garcia] lease ends in 2036”. She meant the illegal lease between the USA and UK, due to expire after 50 years at the end of 2016, will be renewed for another 20 years. So, her argument is that there is a lease but it hasn’t reached expiry date yet. The then US Ambassador, Ms Shari Villarosa, added that, “It’s not a lease. It’s an arrangement. Until 2036. Other people can say what they like. It’s an arrangement.”
Proper “right of return and free movement” not “resettlement” by colonizers
In LALIT, like some of the British judges in the Bancoult cases, we believe in the right of return for Chagossians and not this very limitative “resettlement plan” that the British pretended was on offer.
Freedom of movement over all the Mauritian islands, including Chagos, is what is necessary for all Mauritians including Chagossians. We in LALIT have never agreed with the offer of the British (which was only a ploy, anyway) to grant some kind of anachronistic, colonial “native reserve”. And we deplore the cynicism with which the British executive branch has used the judiciary in order to drag out court cases, case after case, appeal after appeal, without taking a principled stand, but just stringing the Bancoult legal team along, while waiting for all the Chagossians born on the islands to die of old age or broken hearts. We deplore the cynicism of the British executive misleading the elected Parliament to such an outrageous extent in a supposed “up-date”. And we deplore the continued colonial mentality in the British executive branch of Government, a mentality so severely criticized by so many British judges in the course of the Bancoult cases, and partly attributed to the colonial mentality of the times. Obviously this mentality dies hard.
Victory against the powerful comes through principled stands and struggle
But most of all we stand on principle on three related issues which we insist should be aimed at. We need to struggle for all at the same time for victory to be won:
1. The right of return to Chagos and free circulation in all of the Mauritian islands.
2. The full decolonization of the Republic of Mauritius, allowing its re-unification as a country and as a nation, in accordance with the UN Charter and its resolutions.
3. The closing down of the military base, an environmental clean-up, and a conversion of the infra-structure into something peaceful, like meteorological and tsunami early warning.
At long last the Mauritian State has acted
At long last, the Mauritian State has begun to act. The Ramgoolam regime put in the UNCLOS case. The Jugnauth regime has a Resolution on the UN General Assembly agenda right now for an ICJ case. These actions must, to succeed, be part of a much wider, in fact of a massive political movement – in Mauritius and world-wide – in order to win.
At long last, the Mauritian State has unified with the Chagos Refugees Group in a united delegation to the UN General Assembly. Olivier Bancoult was part of the delegation.
The Mauritian State and Olivier Bancoult have both begun the process of putting the military base into question. Will they have the courage to take a stand against the base? If so, this is the way to build up enough support to be able to win.
What to do?
Now, all political parties in Mauritius must mobilize their own members and supporters in Mauritius behind these three related demands, and also, at the same time, galvanize support amongst their party-to-party contacts and their press contacts abroad for these three related demands.
We call once again on Prime Minister Jugnauth, himself, and all his team on Chagos, to come out on to the television and explain to the broad masses exactly what happened in 1965 to Mauritius, and what happened to the Chagossians from 1965 to 1973, and how the US and UK hid all this, and all that has happened since.
We call once again on the Prime Minister to organize a ship to visit the Chagos. The Leader of the Opposition has finally agreed with this action, after having, like the Prime Minister is now doing, poo-pooed it publicly. We applaud this change for the better.
Encourage journalists in your country to cover the “sovereignty” issue and the “base” issue as well as the “right to return” (not colonial “resettlement”); Chagos/Diego Garcia is a fascinating subject for any journalist to come to grips with and then follow.
Put all three aspects of the Chagos/Diego Garcia on your activist agenda: sovereignty, base closure, right to return.
Encourage your Government to vote for the UN Resolution when it comes up.
If you live in UK or USA, find ways to force your Government, and your MPs, on to the defensive on all three issues. Make elected members take up this issue – ensure that all three elements are included.
This is a winnable struggle. And it is part of our over-all struggle for a peaceful and egalitarian world.
20 November, 2016.
(1) There was a very short note by me published before this in The New Internationalist magazine, November.
(4) update on the British Indian Ocean Territory: Written statement (HCWS260 of 16 Nov 2016) made by Sir Alan Duncan (The Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs). http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/writtenquestionsanswersstatements/writtenstatement/commons/20161116/HCWS260 1/1
Made by: Sir Alan Duncan (The Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs )
update on the British Indian Ocean Territory: Written statement
My right Honourable Friend, the Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Anelay of St Johns), has made the following written Ministerial statement: On 24 March 2016 the former Parliamentary Under Secretary for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, the hon. Member for Rochford and Southend East (James Duddridge) informed the House that the Government would be carrying out further work On its review of resettlement policy in the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT). I would now like to inform Parliament of two decisions which have been made concerning the future of BIOT.
Parliament will be aware of the Government’s review and consultation over the resettlement of the Chagossian people to BIOT. The manner in which the Chagossian community was removed from the Territory in the 1960s and 1970s, and the way they were treated, was wrong and we look back with deep regret. We have taken care in coming to our final decision on resettlement, noting the community’s emotional ties to BIOT and their desire to go back to their former way of life.
This comprehensive programme of work included an independent feasibility study followed by a full public consultation in the UK, Mauritius and the Seychelles. I am today announcing that the Government has decided against resettlement of the Chagossian people to the British Indian Ocean Territory on the grounds of feasibility, defence and security interests, and cost to the British taxpayer. In coming to this decision the Government has considered carefully the practicalities of setting up a small remote community on low-lying islands and the Challenges that any community would face. These are significant, and include the challenge of effectively establishing modern public services, the limited healthcare and education that it would be possible to provide, and the lack of economic opportunities, particularly job Prospects. The Government has also considered the interaction of any potential community with the US Naval Support Facility – a vital part of our defence relationship.
The Government will instead seek to support improvements to the livelihoods of Chagossians in the communities where they now live. I can today announce that we have agreed to fund a package of approximately £40 million over the next ten years to achieve this goal. This money addresses the most pressing needs of the community by improving access to health and social care and to improved education and employment opportunities. Moreover, this fund will support a significantly expanded programme of visits to BIOT for native Chagossians. The Government will work closely with Chagossian communities in the UK and overseas to develop cost-effective programmes which will make the biggest improvement in the life chances of those Chagossians who need it most.
Parliament will also be aware that the agreements underpinning the UK/US defence facility will roll over automatically on 31 December if neither side breaks silence. In an increasingly dangerous world, the defence facility is used by us and our allies to combat some of the most difficult problems of the 21st century including terrorism, international criminality, instability and piracy. I can today confirm that the UK continues to welcome the US presence, and that the agreements will continue as they stand until 30 December 2036.
This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS257
(5) UN Resolution 2066 voted in 1965 says:
“The General Assembly… Noting with deep concern that any step taken by the administering Power to detach certain islands from the Territory of Mauritius for the purpose of establishing a military base would be in contravention of the Declaration, and in particular of paragraph 6 thereof….
“Invites the administering Power to take no action which would dismember the Territory of Mauritius and violate its territorial integrity;…”.
(6) Mauritian Government response 17 Nov 2016 to Statement in House of Commons
The Government of Mauritius has taken note of the statement made to the UK Parliament on 16 November 2016 by the UK Government concerning decisions it has purportedly taken to the effect that:
(a) the Chagossian community will not be allowed to resettle in the Chagos Archipelago;
(b) a £40 million package will be funded over the next 10 years by the UK Government to support improvements to the livelihoods of the Chagossians; and
(c) the US presence in the Chagos Archipelago under current arrangements with the UK will continue until 2036.
The Government of Mauritius reaffirms that the Chagos Archipelago has always formed and continues to form an integral part of the territory of Mauritius and that it does not recognize the so-called “British Indian Ocean Territory”.
The Government of Mauritius wishes to reiterate that it does not also recognize the legality of the actions that the UK has purported, or is purporting, to take in respect of the Chagos Archipelago as they are in breach of international law. This includes, but is not limited to, the unilateral decisions purportedly taken by the UK Government with regard to resettlement in the Chagos Archipelago and the continuation of the UK-US agreement in respect of the Chagos Archipelago until 2036.
The Government of Mauritius considers that the UK has acted in blatant breach of the letter and spirit of the Award delivered on 18 March 2015 in the case brought by Mauritius against the UK under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, inasmuch as the UK has failed to fully involve Mauritius, as required by the Award, in the renewed use, until 2036, of the Chagos Archipelago for the purposes for which it is currently being used.
The Government of Mauritius notes with concern that the fact that the statement is completely silent both on the discussions that were intended to take place between Mauritius and the UK on the completion of the process of decolonization and on sovereignty, as agreed in New York last September and the clear obligations of the UK under the UNCLOS Award is very revealing of the UK Government’s approach to the rights of Mauritius and the plight of Mauritians of Chagossian origin.
The Government of Mauritius protests strongly against the unilateral decision of the UK Government aimed at denying Mauritian citizens of Chagossian origin their legitimate right of return to the Chagos Archipelago.
The Government of Mauritius also reiterates that the denial of the right of Mauritians in general, and those of Chagossian origin in particular, to settle in the Chagos Archipelago is a manifest breach of international law and outrageously flouts their human rights.
While any financial assistance could provide some relief to Mauritians of Chagossian origin, no amount of money and no public apology by the UK Government can make lawful what is unlawful, or dilute the rights of Mauritius under international law and as reflected in the various resolutions of the United Nations. The Government of Mauritius remains fully sensitive to the plight of Mauritians of Chagossian origin and supports their relentless struggle to remove all obstacles to the full enjoyment of their human rights.
The Government of Mauritius will relentlessly pursue its initiatives in conformity with international law to complete the decolonization of Mauritius, thereby enabling Mauritius to effectively exercise its sovereignty over the Chagos Archipelago.
In light of the above, and in view of the purported unilateral actions of the UK, Mauritius would be fully justified in taking forward the completion of the process of decolonization, which is now on the agenda of the current session of the UN General Assembly, with a view to putting the matter before the International Court of Justice for an advisory opinion.
Prime Minister’s Office, 17 November 2016