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Diego Garcia on Electoral Agenda


At a Lalit Press Conference on Wednesday 3 June chaired by Lalit Central Committee, Cindy Clelie, the issue of the military base on Diego Garcia was placed firmly on the agenda for the coming general elections. She criticized the MSM-MMM-PMSD Alliance for its silence on this issue, a silence echoed by the PT-PMSC-MR-MDS-MMSP-Les Verts Alliance.

Alain Ah-Vee gave a report on the first batch of petition signatures for the electronic petition that Lalit has been organizing over the past months. He gave a list of the organizations that signed, and described the largest and most influencial.

Lindsey Collen then outlined the plans for the first International Conference Against US Military Bases planned for the year 2006. A preliminary meeting is to be held in Cuba later this year to plan it. Lindsey Collen is on the organizing committee. She explained how Lalit's involvement with this campaign had developed organically. When Ram Seegobin had been a speaker at two demonstration against George Bush in South Africa in 2003, activists there had been impressed by Lalit's arguments that we need to aim our demonstrations at the permanent representatives of US militarism, ie at their bases. Later they put Lalit in contact with the No US Bases electronic network as it was being founded. Lalit thus delegated people to attend its first face-to-face meeting which was held in Mumbai during the World Social Forum in 2004. Lalit members had then become spokespersons for the NO US BASES in the Global Assembly against the War, also held at Mumbai. Now, the bases on Guantanamo and Diego Garcia are priorities in the list for demonstrating for their closure.

Ram Seegobin then described how his recent visit to Australia for the Asia Pacific International Solidarity Conference had put Diego Garcia on the map for protests in the US, Australia, Asia and also Europe. Members of the European Parliament were present and have started a movement to sign up to Lalit's petition. Ram Seegobin was also invited to the European Parliament to speak on the Diego issue. The date, 16 June, is however during the electoral campaign.