At this very moment the Pravind Jugnauth Government can be criticized for two things concerning Mauritian territory:
1. The MSM Government is offering a 99-year lease, repeat a 99-year lease, to the USA to keep Diego Garcia, the island, and its military base, nuclear materials and weapons and all. This, in spite of the Pelindaba Treaty for a Nuclear Arms Free Africa, to which Mauritius is a signatory. It is an outrageous offer made by Prime Minister Jugnauth. The “99-year” number, itself, is the same transparent tricherie as the electrical appliance on sale for cheap at “Rs199.99”.
All the Opposition parties, most of the Press, and almost all commentators in the mainstream think this is hunky-dory. It is not.
LALIT is opposing Jugnauth for this offer of a 99-year lease. We say the UK-USA must go. Mauritius has won the legal battle. Chagos including Diego Garcia is part of the Republic of Mauritius. We now have to get the base closed down, cleaned up and the whole of Chagos made into a Constituency, as part of our democracy – democracy which needs to be expanded in all directions. Chagossians will be free to go home, or move between Diego Garcia and Cassis, Peros Banos and Baie du Tombeau at will. At present there is no democratic control over Chagos, including Diego Garcia. The British are there illegally. They have sub-let one Island to the USA illegally. The USA therefore houses a military base on a stolen bit of land. The US runs illegal wars, like the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, with all their war crimes from there. The UK-USA must get out of there. The ICJ says so. The UN General Assembly by a vote of 116-6 (the six pole-cats are UK, USA, Israel, Hungary, Australia and Maldives), and the ITLOS binding decision of January 2021, confirms all this.
How come all the anti-Jugnauth political forces in Mauritius are so silent about this Jugnauth crime?
What kind of cowards are they?
What kind of bootlickers to the colonizers and imperialists are they?
Be like those who take a stand and say, “Jugnauth, get the UK-USA out of the whole of Chagos, including Diego Garcia! Get the base closed down!”
Let us name those, other than LALIT, that oppose the USA’s base on Mauritian land? Let us name some of these brave organizations and individuals: the Confederation des Travailleurs de Secteur Privé, the Muvman Liberasyon Fam, former President of the Republic Cassam Uteem, former Attorney General Jean-Claude Bibi, Mouvement pour le Progrès de Roche Bois,Groupe Unitaire de Baie du Tombeau, the Federation of Civil Service and Other unions, Ledikasyon pu Travayer, General Workers Federation, Federation des Travailleurs Unis, Federation of Free Workers, Federation of Progressive unions, Institute for Consumer Protection, JUSTICE: Association Against Violence by Officers of the State, Mauritius Labour Congress, Government Servants Association, CEDREFI, Southern African Human Rights NGOs Network, Fédération des Syndicats des Corps Constitués, ABAIM, Fridays for Future (Mauritius), the late Hervé Lasemillante, the late Kishore Mundil. Please let us know if your organization is left out or if you would like to be included in future lists.
Plus LALIT has got active support to close the base down from other 100 organizations in other countries.
2. The Jugnauth MSM Government has, at the very same time as it is trying to sign away Diego Garcia well-nigh forever, signed an agreement with India for the construction of a new airport and port on Agalega. This needs to be watched. There is a danger that it becomes a military installation. The Agreement with India needs to be made public. In the National Assembly on Tuesday 18 May, Pravind Jugnauth, in response to a PNQ, said that any future Mauritian Government will be free to accept or refuse requests for the visits of military vessels to any port in the Republic of Mauritius including Agalega, as has always been the case for all ports. He added, in response to a follow-up question from Opposition Leader Xavier Duval, not vessels carrying nuclear arms or equipment, in line with Treaty obligations. (He is referring, we suppose, to the Pelindaba Treaty mentioned above – a treaty he is in the habit of ignoring the existence of.) Pravind Jugnauth made the mistake of not citing the exception, at present, of the Diego Garcia port. And this was, of course, not picked up by Xavier Duval. Pravind Jugnauth also specified that there is no agreement for a base. But, can we be sure?
The anti-Jugnauth forces, so silent about Jugnauth seeking to sign off on Diego Garcia for100 years, are vociferous about Agalega. They do not put emphasis on publishing the agreement with India, which is the key demand. Nor, of course, on the demand to deny any and all warships from all Mauritian ports, or airports for that matter, in the Republic of Mauritius which would settle the matter.
Before coming to our specific demands at the end of this article, it is worth looking briefly at the presence of different military powers in the Indian Ocean with some degree of logic. This way we can put forward proper criticisms of the Jugnauth government as well as proper demands for change.
The Indian Ocean, which used to be under “Rule Britannia” in colonial times, has since 1948, gradually come under two other imperialist forces: France and the USA. So, France has Reunion which is, inter alia, one big military base. It “stole” Mayotte from Comoros completely illegally and continues to occupy it. It also continues to colonize Tromelin, despite the commitment of Mitterrand in his campaign for the Presidency to hand this island over to Mauritius. (By the way, Mauritius is at present right now seeking to get Tromelin excluded from France’s control at the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission on allocation criteria, on the basis of the ICJ and ITLOS decisions.) As the British colonizer withdrew East of Aden, they stole Chagos, and rented part of the stolen goods, Diego Garcia, to the USA, the almighty single superpower that rules so cruelly over the world – obliterating whole areas of Iraq and Afghanistan, and helping along with France to destroy parts of Syria and Libya, while financing Israel’s colonization, military occupation and state of siege of Palestine, and with France, building Israel’s nuclear arms and then together also arming all kinds of factions in Africa, while threatening China and Russia all the while.
It would be wise to ensure keeping racism out of the campaign against military bases. It has been present in a constant, if sullen way, in many anti-Jugnauth campaigns, thus weakening them. In LALIT, we have had to write an article entitled “A racist joke” to expose what was widely accepted as funny as all hell on this particular kind of racism that was followed by an invitation to a protest march, as well as an article entitled “A racist article” about Bangladeshi workers, which followed the hideous L’Expressvideo clip that on our site we have criticized numerous times for its racism disguised as satire, again against Bangladeshi people. Just now, in May, there was an injunction put by Me. Rouben Mooroongapillay and Dr Veeraragoo calling for “Indian” workers and cadres not be allowed into the country – until judge Aruna Narain called them to task, for inter alia, not specifying why only Indians were a danger to public health and not everyone else who was on board and had been in India where the Covid-19 epidemic was, and still is, raging.
We might recall that both India and China are vying for some control over the Indian Ocean, even as the USA intensifies its imperialist thrust into both the Indian Ocean and the Pacific. They are rising powers, previously under colonial domination, now expanding fast. In both countries there are ambitious leaders. Modi is a fundamentalist RSS Prime Minister, with nationalism and religious bigotry pumping him up. We might also recall that the definition of “imperialist” is that there are “monopoly profits” that imperialist countries preserve for their own companies – India and China are not yet in that league. This does not mean they do not vie for influence. They do. We might also recall that the present Plaisance Airport reconstruction was by the Chinese Government, and that in no way means they can control Mauritius in any way – unlike the US’s Africa Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA) which specifies that bosses from weaker countries can get their products into the US market on condition that the country concerned follows US foreign policy. No lie. And we might, all the while, recall that part of Mauritius is still colonized illegally by the British colonial power, and that the USA has a military base on this stolen land from which Chagossians and all Mauritius have been banned. Finally, we might recall that all manner of imperialist and other military vessels regularly, and with impunity, visit Mauritian ports. Something that must stop. This can be our humble contribution in the world-wide struggle against militarism.
This is the kind of demand that LALIT proposes:
1. That Jugnauth immediately withdraw the offer of a 99-year lease to the USA for Diego Garcia. Diego Garcia is not his to offer. It is part of the Republic of Mauritius.
2. That Jugnauth instruct the UK-USA to leave, and to launch an international campaign to close the Diego Base.
3. That the agreements between India and Mauritius be made public; from the first Memorandum of Understanding under Labour Party, to the second between Modi and the MSM-PMSD alliance during the MSM’s Lalyans Lepep alliance with PMSD in it, and then the final Treaty. This is a minimum “Freedom of Information” demand. This will give proof that there will not be a base that gradually emerges on Agalega.
4. That no Mauritian ports or airports be used for military vessels or aircraft of any kind: neither Port Louis or Plaisance on the Island of Mauritius, nor Port Mathurin or Plaine Corail on the Island of Rodrigues, nor Diego Garcia on the Chagos Archipelago, nor Agalega port-side at the St. James Anchorage, North Island or the airport in construction, nor on the quay at St Brandon or any air strip, nor on Tromelin’s facilities for docking or landing.
5. In any case, no Mauritian ports can be used for nuclear-related military vessels already, as it is. The Prime Minister has now announced this. Because Mauritius is a signatory of the Pelindaba Treaty for a Nuclear Arms Free Africa, which is a binding treaty, no nuclear vessels can dock. And now that it is clear that Chagos is part of Mauritius, the Diego Garcia port is also covered. So, we should immediately call for IAEA Inspections under this treaty. That is another demand.
6. That Agalega get its own Constituency, with as electors all those residing in the new Constituency of Agalega, with one elected Member of Parliament. That Chagos gets its own Constituency where, until everyone who wants to live there, lives there, all Chagossians registered with the Trust Fund get the right to vote, and have their own Constituency also with one member of the National Assembly.
updated at paragraph with list of adherents on 25 May 2021.