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LALIT comments on Theresa May defying ICJ


Now, as the Mauritian State prepares for a United Nations General Assembly resolution to implement the judgment on decolonizing Chagos including Diego Garcia, is the moment for Sir Aneerood Jugnauth to act. LALIT calls on him to renounce his knighthood. Just as, after the Jallianwala Bagh massacre in 1919, the poet Rabindranath Tagore renounced his knighthood in what he called “a symbolic act of protest”. This action of renunciation of the title “Sir” will add to the impact of the coming U.N. Resolution. We call on Aneerood Jugnauth to dedicate this “renunciation” to all the African union nations and the other nations that supported the original 22 June, 2017 UN General Assembly resolution to haul Britain before the ICJ on the issue of its failure to decolonize Chagos, and to re-unite it with the rest of independent Mauritius.

LALIT deplores Theresa May Government’s brazenly defiant stand relative to the judgment against Britain before the United Nation’s top court, the ICJ, in February. Yet, we are not surprised by it. Colonial arrogance, however, remains unrelentingly despicable. Prof. Philippe Sands rightly said, in Owen Bowcott’s excellent article in The Guardian, “[Britain’s stand] is a slap in the face of the rule of law, the ICJ and the United Nations. It undermines the UK’s ability to say that it is a state that respects the rule of law. There will be consequences. The UK is already struggling internationally and this will leave it floundering and isolated.” Britain at first opposed the African union’s Resolution before the General Assembly of the United Nations on the grounds that the issue was a “bilateral” one, thus betraying its colonial mentality of pretending the entire “African union” is covered by the terra nullius doctrine that attempted to justify colonization by saying no-one lived there. When this UK argument was thrown out unanimously by the ICJ, and when they lost the whole case, they now say “it was only advisory”. Well, why did Britain go to such extreme lengths to oppose the Resolution then? These are indeed the signs of fin de règne. In fact, the ICJ has said Britain has illegally fractured Mauritius, has, by keeping Chagos, not completely decolonized Mauritius, and that Britain must at once decolonize Chagos. Not only that, the ICJ has called on all other UN States to help in bringing about this swift and tardy decolonization.

UK Opposition Leader, Jeremy Corbyn, has taken a clear stand in favour of respecting the ICJ judgment in a letter to Theresa May dated 1 May. This is important. In the past, he supported the Chagossians, opposed the military base on Diego Garcia, and was not in favour of decolonization. Now, he has taken a step that helps heal the damage done by Labour’s Harold Wilson in not decolonizing the whole of Mauritius in the 1960’s. However, LALIT notes that he has, unnecessarily, aligned himself with Pravind Jugnauth’s abject stand about maintaining the US military base ad infinitum on Diego Garcia.

 LALIT maintains its call for:

* An official visit to Chagos on a chartered ship for the purposes. On it there must be Government and Opposition members, a Chagossian delegation, African union representatives, Mauritian and international press.

* IAEA inspections of Diego Garcia, part of Mauritius, for nuclear materials in contravention of the binding Pelindaba Treaty for a Nuclear Arms Free Africa.

* A constituency to be set up for Chagos, as well as one for Agalega (as the National Human Rights Commission chairman has proposed) before the coming General Elections.

* The setting up of a big Mauritian fishing fleet, one that creates jobs, foreign currency, and respects the environment, to use the immense territorial waters of the Republic of Mauritius in the interests of the people of the Republic.

Lindsey Collen


4 May 2019