German MPs in “Die Linke” (“The Left”) in the German parliament or Bundestag wrote to LALIT recently about the German warship “Bayern”’s planned visit to Diego Garcia in the coming months in defiance of United Nations judicial decisions and specific U.N. General Assembly Resolutions.
Here is what they said to us, below, and our reply. The letter that they have sent to all Mauritian Members of the National Assembly referred to in their letter to LALIT, is also published below that.
What you can do. Please read this correspondence and then please do contact your own MP and ask what he intends to do in response to this letter.
Letter to LALIT from German MPs
In the name of seven German MPs, one of them Rüdiger Göbel, wrote to LALIT as follows:
I would like to ask you to take note of the attached letter from members of the parliamentary group DIE LINKE in the German Bundestag to all parliamentarians in the National Assembly of Mauritius on the occasion of the sea voyage of the German frigate “Bayern” with the destination Indian Ocean and South China Sea. The MPs condemn this military show of force by the German Navy, which includes a visit by the frigate “Bayern” to the Chagos Islands in the Indian Ocean in violation of international law.
The MPs hope for the support of their colleagues in the National Assembly of Mauritius to work together to cancel the landing of the frigate “Bayern” in the Chagos Islands.
On behalf of the MPs, I thank you for your interest.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Letter from MPs in Germany sent to All Mauritian MPs
The following seven Members of the German Budestag, Sevim Dagdelen, Gregor Gysi, Heike Hänsel, Zaklin Nastic,Diether Dehm, Alexander Neu, Tobias Pflüger wrote the letter jointly to all Mauritian Members of the National Assembly.
The letter was headed, “Visit by the German frigate ‘Bayer’ to the Chagos Archipelago in the Indian Ocean in violation of international law”
Honourable Members, dear Colleagues,
On 2 August the German frigate warship “Bayern” left Germany for a six-month voyage in the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea. The objectives of the voyage were supposedly “strengthening international law” and protecting “free trade routes”. In reality however it was a display of military power towards China, continuing the disastrous tradition of German colonial policy. Those of us who oppose this action say that German navy should not display any military presence in either the Indian Ocean or the South China Sea. The audacious demonstration of power by the frigate “Bayern” cannot be reconciled with the defence mandate of Germany’s Basic Law.
We are especially concerned by the fact that as part of its demonstration of military power in the Indian Ocean, the German navy intends to call at the Chagos Archipelago. This takes place in breach of the judgment by the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea of 25 January 2021, confirming the ruling by the International Court of Justice of February 2019 which awarded the archipelago to Mauritius. The planned arrival of the frigate “Bayern” at the Chagos Archipelago is a blatant violation of international law and also a slap in the face of the inhabitants of the Chagos islands and their descendants, who were deported from the islands in 1966 and 1973 in violation of human rights and international law, in order to ensure that the military base leased to the United States by the United Kingdom, on which thousands of US troops and bomber aircraft remain stationed to this day, be handed over “unpopulated”.
It is shameful that the German Federal Government has not supported the resolution by the UN General Assembly of 22 May 2019, in which 116 states called upon the United Kingdom to return the Chagos Archipelago to Mauritius within six months.
We stand on the side of the people of Mauritius in their fight against colonialism and for the handover of the Chagos Archipelago to Mauritius. We will not relent in our condemnation of this ongoing colonial injustice and our urging for the closure of the US military base and for a right to return for the inhabitants of the Chagos Archipelago.
We also wish to inform you of our concern regarding the news that has reached us from the 12 kilometre long island of North Agaléga located in the Indian Ocean and part of Mauritius, where an Indian military base is said to be under construction, with a three kilometre long airstrip for larger aircraft and a naval port for monitoring Chinese trade routes. We are also deeply concerned by the statements coming from Agaléga describing the island’s destruction.
The militarisation of the Indian Ocean threatens the welfare of the people and nature on these paradisiacal islands. We support the fight by the people of Mauritius to take a stand against this devastating militarisation and to hold fast to the rejection of any form of neo-colonialism and not to allow any foreign military bases on Mauritian islands and to establish Mauritian sovereignty over the Chagos Archipelago. The time of colonial territorial claims and military displays of power in the Indian Ocean must finally be put in the past.
We therefore ask you to address the German Federal Government to demand that it call off the planned visit by the German frigate “Bayern” to the Chagos Archipelago which is in violation of international law, and that in future it finally commits, like the large majority of states within the UN General Assembly, to lobbying for the United Kingdom to return the Chagos Archipelago to Mauritius. A further breach of the judgment by the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea of 25 January 2021 by the German Federal Government is unacceptable and would amount to an ongoing blatant violation of international law.
LALIT replied on 11 September.
Dear Rüdiger Göbel and colleagues,
Thank you very much for your letter, which we read with great interest. We have taken note of the copy you enclosed of the letter sent by your parliamentary group in the German Bundestag DIE LINKE to all Mauritian parliamentarians in our National Assembly.
We salute your fine stand against militarism in the Indian Ocean and elsewhere, as well as against military shows of force by Germany in the South China Sea. And of course, in particular, we commend your addressing a letter to all Mauritian MPs about opposing the visit of the German frigate the "Bayern" to Chagos. It is particularly important for the Mauritian elected representatives to have their attention drawn to this kind of flaunting of international law and Mauritian sovereingty, and of the link between decolonization and demilitarization.
While the Mauritian Prime Minister has promised to charter a ship to visit Chagos -- even though he is delaying this beyond all reasonable explanation -- he has at the same time offered the USA a 100-year lease (or 99-year, as they like to put it) for Diego Garcia for their American military base. His party the MSM is, in general, thus in favour of the military base on Diego Garcia, and he needs reminding of this link between demilitarization and sovereignty, which your letter makes obvious. We, in LALIT, of course, denounce our Government over this. There may be only one or two Ministers and some back-benchers, who are reluctant about this offer, but we have to treat them as rational representatives of the people, as you have done. The important thing is that the people of Mauritius, in vast numbers, are against military occupation of Chagos. Most people are rightly suspicious, too, of the Indian Government's plans for Agalega, to which you draw attention. We in LALIT are calling for the immediate publication of the Agreement between Mauritius and India over the construction of the port and airport facilities there, which the Mauritian Prime Minister assures the National Assembly does not mean there is a military base. He also makes verbal assurances that Agalega will remain entirely under Mauritian control. Which should make it all the easier for him to make the agreement public, if that is the case.
The Parliamentarians in the three or four Opposition parties, like those on the Government side of the House, also need to study the letter you wrote to them in detail. They are equally complicit with the USA's military strategy and welcome the US military base. They are reluctant to be too critical of India's intentions, either. We might add, in passing, that the denouncing of India's role in developing the Agalega facilities is, however, commonplace in the right-wing in Mauritius and even in the Mauritian extreme-right wing, on the basis of anti-Indian and pro-western stances that have remained rife since the times of their mobilization against ending slavery, against universal suffrage, and then against Independence.
All this to say how important it is that you have written a letter to Mauritian MPs on both sides of the House about the visit of the Bayern to Chagos, in the context of continued and perhaps increasingly dangerous militarism in the Indian Ocean and South China Sea, as the US empire confronts China.
In LALIT, we call for all Mauritian ports -- Port Louis, Diego Garcia, Agalega, Port Mathurin, and any other landing place -- and all air-strips and airports to bar all warships and military planes, drones and other hardware. For your information, we have many articles in English about Diego Garcia and Chagos on our website www.lalitmauritius.org --which can be found with the google search engine on our home page. By the way, we were not able to find your letter to our MPs on your website. Perhaps we are not good enough at searching for it, or perhaps there is only a German version.
Please let us know if there is any sign of the German frigate changing its plans about Chagos. We will keep in touch with you as we publicize your letter on our website and in a position we will take relative to the Press here. And we would be very happy to keep in touch on the struggle against militarism in general. If the Mauritian Government continues to drag its feet on affreighting a ship to go to Chagos, we will have to consider re-building the will and the capacity to organize, with the Chagossians, such a trip without Government support.
Ragini Kistnasamy and Lindsey Collen
What you can do
Perhaps you can contact your MP by email or at the CAB and ask him if he has responded to the German MPs yet on Diego Garcia. Also ask them what they think about warships on Mauritian territory.