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Message from Gunvant Govindjee


Dear Conference Organisers and Delegates

Firstly, I extend my congratulations to the organisers of this very important conference.

I am sure a great deal of hard work has gone into the preparation for this conference. You are lauded for putting together a comprehensive and extensive programme on the various issues relating to the Chagos Islands. In addition, the list of conference speakers is impressive. Well done!

Conference delegates, your presence at this event, attests to your concern over this long festering challenge that has not received the due attention of the international community.

It is unacceptable that an imperial power should have arrogated unto itself the authority to dispossess, relocate , and deny Chagossians the right of return in violation of a number of international instruments to which this very power is a signatory.

It is also unacceptable that the dispossessed Chagossians who should ultimately have had the final say over the establishment of the military base on Diego Garcia, were altogether left out of the decision-making process.

If the British government continues to flout decisions of its own judiciary (and who knows, maybe even of the impending ruling of the ECHR) and remain obdurate, then the government of Mauritius should without delay approach the International Court of Justice in order to secure justice for the weak against the powerful.

Organisers and delegates, I wish you a constructive and successful conference. See this conference not as an end in itself, but as an important process in reversing an injustice committed more than four decades ago. When you leave this conference, you must continue to champion the cause of the Chagossians.

Gunvant Govindjee
24 October 2010