Covering letter addressed to all MP's by Lalit on the 25th February 2004
153 Main Road, Grande Rivière Nord Ouest, Port Louis
25th February, 2004
Member of the National Assembly,
As Independence Day and Republic Day approach, we have pleasure in sending you an open letter on the question of Diego Garcia. As you know, Diego Garcia was illegally excised from Mauritius in the run-up to Independence Day in 1968 and was, constitutionally speaking, confirmed to be part of Mauritius on Republic Day in 1992.
We wish to put Diego Garcia on the agenda even though, just as in the run-up to Independence there was an atmosphere of extreme communal tension that clouded the issue, so today we find ourselves in a similar situation. But the issue is too important to be conveniently veiled by communal strife.
Lalit Letter dated 12 Feb 2004
153 Main Road, Grand River North West, Port Louis, Mauritius Tel 208 2132
Prime Minister, Paul Bérenger, announced at the political "brainstorming" at Domaine Les Pailles that there are new proposals for Diego Garcia. What are these secret proposals? Do you as an élu know? Does he aim to "tripot" something with the USA similar to what SSR did when he "sold off" Diego Garcia to the UK? And whatever it is, you as an elected representative of the people of the Republic must demand to know.
We know that, as an elected Member of one of 21 Constituencies and as a representative of the people, you feel concern about the use of Mauritius' land, Mauritian produce and Mauritian workers, for the housing, supplying and manning of the military base on Diego Garcia. We know you do not want your hands bloodied by your own action or inaction. We know you do not want your conscience disturbed by the souls of the children killed by weapons of mass destruction that were flown off from our land.
The US President, George W. Bush, decided only recently to embark on wars, not of defense, but of "prevention". Have you adjusted to what this new reality means? "Preventive war" is illegal. It is a war crime. And Mauritius now finds itself in an extremely dangerous situation. Aiding and abetting war-crimes is morally untenable, and will thus be politically ruinous. This is what we write to warn you about.
As a representative of the people, what are you doing to stop supplying the US-UK military base? What are you doing to prevent our children being recruited to work on a base designed to kill people in other countries? What are you doing to stop the cluster-bombs loaded on to aeroplanes on Diego Garcia, still today, exploding in children's hands in Baghdad? What did you do to prevent the B-52 that took off from Diego Garcia, part of Mauritius, and dropped a bomb on a wedding celebration in Afghanistan? Who shares responsibility for killing all the wedding guests?
Will you collude with any war the US declares?
The war on Iraq, was, as you know, based on intelligence reports, now being investigated even by Bush and Blair themselves for being wrong or exaggerated. In February, 2004 Bush and Blair, under increasing political pressure from within their realms, both announced Commissions of Inquiry into whether there was, as they had claimed, an imminent danger from Iraqi weapons of mass destruction or not. Did you, as a Member of the National Assembly, just go along with B-52's from Diego Garcia bombarding cities in Iraq - only now to be made fools of when the reasons given for war are exposed as lies?
We call for your public support for the UN Resolution to make the Indian Ocean a Zone of Peace. This is still a living aspiration of the Mauritian people. We call for you to take a public stand in favour of base closure.
In Lalit, we went to the World Social Forum in Mumbai in January to put on the agenda of all thinking people in the world the closing down of the US military base on Diego Garcia. The "No U.S. Bases" network whose aim is to "Close down all military bases worldwide", has put the closing down of Diego Garcia base as one of its four priorities amongst the 702 U.S. bases in 140 countries outside the U.S. "The General Assembly of the Global Anti-War Movement" has also adopted the resolution to work on base-closures world-wide, including Diego Garcia as a priority. The Social Activists Assembly at Mumbai rejoiced in the closing down of the enormous US Navy base in Vieques, Puerto Rico, 63 years after the forcible removal of the inhabitants. A protest flotilla is being prepared to go to bases to help closure.
We will be going to Diego Garcia. It is part of Mauritius, and this was confirmed when, after a long struggle, Diego Garcia was added to the Constitution of Mauritius, in 1992 as part of the Republic. What are you as an MLA doing to support the Constitution? Will you as an elected representative of the people accept that some outside authority can prevent you from visiting what is part of Mauritius?
We call for you to speak out for the re-unification of the Republic of Mauritius. We call on you to defend this important part of the Constitution.
As you know, the Seychelles demanded and won back its Islands which were at the same time stolen by the UK and put, together with the stolen Chagos, into the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT). Why does the Mauritian government not claim our Islands back? Everyone knows what the UK and US did was not only against UN Resolutions, but also against the UN Charter itself. The Mauritian government must be made to call publicly for the UK to return the stolen Islands, and for the USA to stop acting as the receiver of stolen goods.
The right of the Mauritians from Chagos to return to a peaceful Diego Garcia is an inalienable right. Your right as an MLA to visit Diego Garcia is also an inalienable right. Why do you not support the demand for an Island Council for the people of Diego Garcia and the other Chagos Islands? Why do you not support the demand for a Constituency Number 22 to have a representative of the people of Diego Garcia, so that when it is liberated, the people who will live there will already have a constituency?
We call on you to support the right of return for all Mauritians from Diego Garcia and the other Chagos Islands to Diego Garcia and the other Islands.
The base on Diego Garcia must be closed, so that there can be the full de-colonization and re-unification of Mauritius. The base on Diego Garcia must be closed to respect the "right of return" of the people of Chagos. For over 40 years now, successive Mauritian Governments have shamelessly bargained for trade advantages or other money-deals in exchange for silence on Diego Garcia. The base must be closed so that we do not collude with the war machinery of the United States of America. We do not want the moral responsibility for the killing of people in Palestine, in Iraq or in Afghanstan. We do not want the moral responsibility of our land being used for torturing prisoners, or for the indefensible pratice of having "secret locations" for detainees. We say: Kick the US military out! Kick the British colonizers out! As Bérenger once put it on a sarcastic pancarte he held up: "Rupees for Mauritius, napalm for Vietnam!" we say "Rupees for Mauritius, cluster bombs for Iraq?"
We also demand that Diego Garcia be "cleaned-up" by those who have destroyed so much of the beautiful environment.
We also call on you, as an MLA, to join the movement for "clean up" after base closure, and for creative employment to replace the jobs in "death-machinery" that the bases offer.
You as a Member of the National Assembly have an important role in putting forward these reasonable demands for the re-unification of Mauritius, closure of the base, the right to return, and for clean up and creative employment. As a minimum gesture, we request you to write an open letter to Mr. Bush and/or Mr. Blair on these points.
12 Feb 2004