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The Military Base on Diego Garcia must be Closed Down

10.12.2005

Just at the time when Bush and Blair's invasion of Iraq is being conclusively exposed as a war crime, the Mauritian Prime Minister offers to sign a "treaty" with Britain on the Diego Garcia base.

You might think that P.M. Ramgoolam would want the base closed down in the face of the mounting evidence of war crimes committed from the base. You might think he would want to reunite the country and assure the right of return to all Chagossians to Diego Garcia, and at the same time distance the Mauritian State from the illegal acts of war being exposed so clearly right now.

But no.

The Prime Minister, egged on by Berenger, the Leader of the Opposition, is eagerly bending over backwards to assure the USA and UK Governments that the Mauritian State wants the military base to continue. This implies that the Mauritian State will follow Bush and Blair and their successors, whoever they may be, wherever they may go. War crimes or not.

At this historically vital turning point, when the US empire is beginning to teeter, Lalit formally accuses both N. Ramgoolam and P. Berenger of acting against the interests of the people of Mauritius, and against the interests of people world-wide. Instead they are supporting hideous acts of war already committed, and harbouring those who may, in the future, before their fall, commit even worse atrocities.

The shameful military base must be closed down at once, the islands it is built on reunited with the rest of Mauritius. Lalit once again makes this demand, today on Human Rights Day. We are once again making this demand, at a time when the Chagossians are challenging as illegal their displacement.

Because today, 10th December, 2005, Harold Pinter's Nobel Speech is being broadcast, we would like to quote from it. What he says is reasonable, and represents the way in which history will judge Bush and Blair in the future.

"As every single person here knows, the justification for the invasion of Iraq was that Saddam Hussein possessed a highly dangerous body of weapons of mass destruction, some of which could be fired in 45 minutes, bringing about appalling devastation. We were assured that was true. It was not true. We were told that Iraq had a relationship with Al Quaeda and shared responsibility for the atrocity in New York of September 11th 2001. We were assured that this was true. It was not true. We were told that Iraq threatened the security of the world. We were assured it was true. It was not true.

"The truth is something entirely different. The truth is to do with how the United States understands its role in the world and how it chooses to embody it."

And, reminding us that the Mauritian State has never requested the Red Cross to check if there were illegal renderings that took place on Diego Garcia, our land, Harold Pinter continue: "Look at Guantanamo Bay. Hundreds of people detained without charge for over three years, with no legal representation or due process, technically detained forever. This totally illegitimate structure is maintained in defiance of the Geneva Convention."

It is important that Mauritius oppose this base. We do not want the Mauritian political leaders to be part of what will in future be adjudged a war crime by an International Criminal Court of Justice. Harold Pinter asks: "How many people do you have to kill before you qualify to be described as a mass murderer and a war criminal? One hundred thousand? More than enough, I would have thought. Therefore it is just that Bush and Blair be arraigned before the International Criminal Court of Justice."


Lindsey Collen
For LALIT
10 December, 2005