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Draft Program for LALIT's International Conference on Diego Garcia


We have pleasure in sharing with our web visitors the draft program for our International Conference on Diego Garcia to be held at the end of October in Port Louis, Mauritius. Anyone wanting to get an invitation, please contact LALIT. You will notice that the theme/s and the speakers will make the Conference a very important one. The timing, too, is key.

The Diego Garcia military base issue is firmly on the world political agenda at the present moment in history. The British "lease" to the US of the stolen Islands comes up for renewal in the 2014-16 period, that is to say the newly elected British and Mauritian governments will be under enormous pressure from the US, as well as being subservient under their own steam. As if in preparation for political problems, the British Government has gone ahead and declared a "Marine Protected Area" around the Mauritian Islands it illegally occupies, and has successfully conned many large environmental organizations into supporting this outrageous scheme. In October, the European Union Human Rights Court is to hear the appeal for the Chagossians right to return against the British Government, which has recently announced it will fight the appeal tooth and nail. Last year the British Government was finally forced to change its story and to admit that there had been illegal renditions on Diego Garcia in the supposed war on terror. The UN Treaty for an Africa Free of Nuclear Arms (Penlindaba Treaty) which has come into force as from last year has opened up a chance for the Mauritian Government to call for UN IAEA inspections. All these reasons explain why LALIT has chosen to hold the Conference now. This struggle, like all others, depends on the balance of forces and every bit of support changes these. This is more than ever true in times of great economic turmoil, when capitalism is particularly unstable.

This particular question refuses to leave the agenda, however much the US and UK have tried to keep it veiled. It is a question that seems to draw together so many themes and struggles, and to interconnect them: decolonization, anti-militarism, anti-nuclear, the environment and ecological issues, the women's struggle (women have been at the forefront of this struggle in Mauritius for decades), the anti-war movement as a whole, the "No Bases movement", anti-imperialism, and of course, all the economic issues that underpin all of this.

D R A F T P R O G R A M (September Version)
LALIT's INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE, 30th October to 2nd November, 2010

Saturday 30 October
Morning Session (Presided by LC)
9:00 Registration for Conference
9:30 Coffee, tea and juice: Viewing of installation on Diego Garcia by artist, Nirmal Hurry (confirmed). View exhibition on Diego Garcia and Chagos.
9:50 Performance on Diego Garcia by artists: Krishna Luchoomun & Gérard Foy (confirmed).
10:00 Opening Address: Former President of the Republic Mr. Cassam Uteem. (confirmed)
10:20 LALIT speaker: Militarism, Occupation, Colonialism, Displacement, Environment: Alain Ah-Vee. Questions & Comments
11:00 The geo-politics of the bases issue & of the Diego Garcia issue: International Guest Speaker: Wilbert van der Zeijden, Transnational Institute, Holland, former co-ordinator of No Bases (confirmed). PLUS Questions & Comments:
11:45 Speech by Chagos Refugees Group leader, Olivier Bancoult (confirmed, or if he is not in the country, a representative)
12:05 Speech by Chagossians' Social Committee leader, Fernand Mandarin (agreed, in principle),
12:25 Poem on Palestine read by Yannick: The Seed
12:30 Bread rolls and juice
Afternoon Session (Presided by Rada Kistnasamy)
1: 00 Cultural Opening: Song on Diego Garcia composed by Rajni Lallah (electric piano) and Joelle Hosseny (Vocalist) (confirmed): Lamer.
1:15 "My experience of displacement": A Chagossian woman speaks out. (Not yet confirmed.)
1:30 International Guest Speaker: Leon Cremieux of the Nouveau Parti Anti-Capitaliste, France and 4th International (not yet confirmed).
Questions & Comments
2:30 LALIT speaker: Ram Seegobin
Questions & Comments
3:30 Film by Peadar King made for Irish TV, The Chagos Islands are Closed (25 Mins)

Sunday 31 October
Morning Session (Presided Jean Yves Dick)
9:30 Tea, Coffee & Juice.
9:55 Reading passage from novel, MUTINY, on Chagossian displacement: Ashish Beesoondyal (confirmed).
10:00 Dr. Vinesh Hookoomsing, former Pro Vice Chancellor University of Mauritius, on Marine Park issue. (confirmed)
Questions & Comments
10:45 LALIT speaker: A Brief History of the Struggle: Geopolitical, social, political, legal. Ragini Kistnasamy.
Questions & Comments
11:30 International Guest Speaker: John Percy, Revolutionary Socialist Party, Australia (confirmed); US imperialism today.
Questions & Comments
12:15 Story told by Latrup Favory.
12:30 Bread rolls and juice.
Afternoon Session (Presided by Jayraj & AMSophie)
1:00 pm Tai Chi exhibition.
1:10 Poem and Music by Daniella Bastien, accompanied by Richard Beaugeandre.
1:20 Messages from abroad: Read by LALIT members (AH, S-JY, JA, LY).
1:30 Workshops on demands and mobilization behind them OR history of the struggle and its future.
* Key moments in the struggle, regional issues, the effects of past legacies of struggle on the present and future.
* Getting the Mauritian Government to put a case in the ICJ, re re-unification, against occupation, for the right of return, for reparations.
* Getting the Marine Protected Area un-decreed, de-colonization, the right to return
* Getting the base closed, clean-up effected, the international struggle
* Getting action under the Pelindaba Treaty

2:30 Report-back from x number of workshops
3:00 John Pilger's Film: Stealing a Nation (50 minutes)

Monday 1 November
10:00 - 11:30 am "PRESS Conference" (press, radio and TV invited) with international and Mauritian guest speakers & LALIT members.

Late Afternoon Session
Venue: Municipality of Port Louis, Council Chamber.
5:00 Political Debate: Political strategies on all & any of the themes in the title of the Conference.
Dr. Arvind Boolell, Minister of Foreign Affairs (has accepted.)
Paul Bérenger, Leader of the Opposition (not yet confirmed).
LALIT representative.
Proposed Chair: Jean-Claude Bibi.

Tuesday 2 November, 2010 (Public Holiday)
Morning Session (Presided by Rajni Lallah)
9:30 Tea, coffee and juice
10:00 Film by David Constantin: Diego L'Interdite (50 minit).
11:00 Resolutions on:
* Getting the Mauritian Government to put a case in the ICJ, re re-unification, against occupation, for the right of return, for reparations.
* Getting the Marine Protected Area un-decreed, de-colonization, the right to return
* Getting the base closed, clean-up effected, the international struggle
* Getting action under the Pelindaba Treaty.
Questions & Comments
12:30 Bread rolls and juice
Afternoon Session Presided by (Ram Seegobin)
1:00 Music from Chagos. (Not yet confirmed).
1:15 International Speaker: Jeremy Corbyn, MP in UK with a long history of commitment to Chagos (confirmed).Questions.
2:15 "The Way Forward": LALIT speaker: Lindsey Collen, PLUS Questions & Comments
3:00 Closing Ceremony: