Yesterday I thought I would go on to the Change.org site to check the wording of the petition circulating on Agalega, intending to sign it.
The petition itself is simple and signable. In all caps in the original, it reads as follows: “SAVE AGALEGA ISLAND FROM BEING TRANSFORMED INTO A MILITARY BASE”.
I then went, as is my habit, to the “Petition details” to see the source and reasoning of the petition, before signing.
The first phrase was so alarming as motivation for a petition that I initially mistook it for the first in a list of random comments appended by signatories, written by some loony member of “the public”. I was wrong. It was the initiator of the petition. It was his reasoning behind his petition.
Luckily I study and discuss with friends before clicking “Sign”.
Anyway you judge:
This is what the first phrase by the initiator says: “I am a proud Mauritian,” OK, you might think, so far, so good, but hang on a minute, he continues: “and equally honoured to have had the opportunity to serve the Queen through the British Army”. Please re-read this, and consider its meaning.
But, Mr. “honoured-to-have-had-the-opportunity-to-serve-the-Queen-through-the-British Army”, Chagos is right now militarily occupied by your “Queen through the British Army” that you are “equally honoured” to have served. You clearly still serve her.
Anyway, I could not believe my eyes.
Before going any further, I Googled the initiator, this equally-honoured-to-have-served-the-Queen-through-her-army, one Jaysen Veeren, osteopath. Here is the fragment from what is on his Facebook page: “Jaysen Veeren a quitté Maurice il y a 19 ans pour faire des études de médecine. Mais en Angleterre, il décide de rejoindre l’armée à la suite ...”
Though I don’t know the exact date the FB blurb was written, I can logically deduce it is more than 19 years ago that he joined the British army. As he was born in 1981 he would have been 19 or 20 in, say, 2000-2001 when he became “equally honoured” to start serving “the Queen and her army”.
So he was probably serving her and her Army in 2002. That was when the Queen’s Government knew there were rendition flights – meaning kidnapping and torturing people on Diego Garcia – though they denied it vehemently in the UK Parliament, only to confess in 2008 that it had been true all along. He was likely to be serving her when in 2004, after the Chagos Refugees Group won their case for the right to return, the Queen made two brand new Orders-in-Council under her Royal Prerogative forever banning Chagossians from returning home. She did all this as well as continuing to occupy Chagos illegally, sub-letting Diego Garcia to the USA for its base, and tricking her Royal way through it all. For example, the Queen’s government duped poor Greenpeace into supporting its colonialist “Marine Protected Area” around a polluting nuclear base, exposed as a mere ploy to get environmentalists’ support to keep occupying Chagos, as indeed the Wikileaks telegrams made public by Julian Assange proved. On and on. And still “equally honoured”? Still honoured “to serve the Queen and her army”?
Now, after 50 years of struggle by Chagossians and Mauritians including LALIT to get the base closed, to get the right of free movement and of return for Chagossians, and to complete decolonization from the Queen and her Army, all the crimes of this Queen and her Army are public. There are the judgments that the Ramgoolam Government won in 2010 at UNCLOS, the Jugnauths won at the ICJ in 2019 and again at ITLOS in January 2021 that now gives the ICJ 2019 opinion binding force. And he is still “honoured” to have served all this?
To make matters worse, when he does include a paragraph on the military occupation of Chagos including Diego Garcia, in his argumentation, he manages to do so without a shred of criticism of his Queen or her army, without the whisper of a demand for base closure. I quote from his petition justification: “In 1965, before Mauritius independence from the UK, London split another archipelago, the Chagos Islands, from Mauritius, forcibly relocating the inhabitants and allowing the US to build a military base on Diego Garcia.” Over and done with. Facts, no criticism. The Queen herself, or her Army, would draft like this.
Anyway, to get back to the issue of Agalega, we in Lalit, together with unions and associations, call for the full publication of the Treaty between Mauritius and India on Agelaga, for a constituency each for Agalega and Chagos, for the closing of all Mauritian harbours to warships – i.e. Port Louis, Port Mathurin, Diego Garcia, Agalega, Tromelin, and St Brandon.
P.S. For LALIT’s full position on Agalega see three pages in our last magazine, and/or use the search engine on our site with the word "Agalega" and you will get our positions over the past three years.