Dear Mr. Jugnauth,
The deadline of 22 November, 2019 set by the UN General Assembly has come and gone: the U.K. is refusing to withdraw from its unlawful occupation of Chagos, an integral part of the Republic of Mauritius. This continued occupation is, in turn, an impediment to the Chagossians right of return.
We, the undersigned, call on you as Prime Minister, at this moment in history when we witness the point-blank refusal of the UK to de-colonize our entire country, to consider taking a pivotal turn in your position on the military base. You have made statements to the effect that the base “can remain”. This position is clearly no longer tenable.
It is indeed the continued presence of this much-hated US military base on Diego Garcia that is preventing the UK from withdrawing. Indeed the military base was the reason from the very beginning for the illegal actions of the UK and USA in breaking up a country prior to Independence and in forcibly removing the Chagossians. During the Cold War, the UK said Mauritius would be decolonized “when the base is no longer necessary” for defense. The Cold War ended. The UK did not keep its word. Instead it has come up with new pretexts; first as part of the vague “war on terror”, then, feebler still, in order to control Somalian fishermen-turned-pirates in pirogues. Today this base has no raison d’etre. Indeed the USA is withdrawing from its foreign military engagements.
Originally, as everyone knows, there was no question of a military base. The occupation was supposed to have been a “communications station”, always of a temporary nature.
Given that this base continues to be the pretext for the UK to flaunt international law and to refuse to decolonize our country and thus permit the right of return, heads-held-high, of Chagossians, it then follows that this base must logically be closed down. We call on you to call, in turn, on the UK to propose a date for its complete withdrawal from all forms of occupation, including the military occupation of Diego Garcia.
Ending military occupation, or at the very least making a demand for a time-frame for total withdrawal from all occupation, will also ensure that Mauritius respects the binding Pelindaba Treaty for a Nuclear Arms Free Africa, which was, you will recall, set up in exchange for the dismantling of the South African nuclear arms industry, a Treaty master-minded by Nelson Mandela to rid Africa of the scourge of Nuclear Weapons. Without complete decolonization and thus full control over all its territory, it is impossible for Mauritius to ensure full respect for the Treaty. There is now, in addition, the new UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, passed two years ago, to which Mauritius is a signatory.
Requesting total de-colonization will also permit Mauritius to respect (over the entirety of Mauritian territory) another Treaty it has signed up to i.e. the Convention on Cluster Munitions. It will also ensure that torture, as practiced by the US military on Diego Garcia, will no longer happen on our territory. Mauritius is signatory, as you are aware, to the UN Convention Against Torture.
This is the moment in history when a stand on principle needs to be taken. All the forces for peace and against militarism will be on the side of Mauritians, including Chagossians. World-wide mobilization and support will increase. In Mauritius the only really huge nation-wide demonstrations on Chagos were those calling for demilitarization and for peace. We need this kind of galvanization of support right now.
Cassam Uteem, Former President of the Republic, Representative of interests of children of Chagossians.
Jean-Claude Bibi, Former Attorney General
Haniff Peerun for Mauritius Labour Congress, and All Workers’ Federation
Vinod Seegum for Confederation of General Trade unions
Reeaz Chuttoo for Confederation des Travailleurs des Secteurs Publique et Privé
Atma Shanto for Federation des Travailleurs Unis
Rajni Lallah for Muvman Liberasyon Fam
Alain Ah Vee for LALIT