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LALIT calls for action to respect nuclear arms Treaty on Diego Garcia

03.12.2009

Today, Thursday 3 December, a delegation of four LALIT members Alain Ah-Vee, Rajni Lallah, Ragini Kistnasamy and Rada Kistnasamy met with Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Arvind Boolell, as part of a LALIT initiative to get UN nuclear arms inspection done on Diego Garcia, the Mauritian territory illegally occupied by the UK and US. In the 30-minute meeting with the Minister, LALIT explained the need to expose and oppose the presence nuclear war heads and other nuclear materials on and around the massive military base the US has constructed on Diego Garcia. LALIT is calling for inspections under the International Atomic Energy Agency, now that the Pelindaba Treaty for an African Nuclear Arms Free Zone has come into force in 2009. This UN treaty has the force of law. LALIT has written to the Director of the IAEA, as well as to the Minister of Foreign Affairs. Dr. Mohamed El Barradei, who was Director until this week, has come to the end of his third term as Director, and it is well known that the United States has long wishes to have him replaced with someone more docile in the face of US foreign policy designs.
Here is the full contents of the LALIT letter and its attachment.
Letter to Hon Arvind Boolell,

Dear Sir,
Re: Initiative Concerning Pelindaba Treaty for African Nuclear Weapons Free Zone
As you are aware LALIT has for many years been at the forefront of many struggles around the demilitarization of the Indian Ocean, the re-unification of the Mauritian country and nation, reparations for all Chagossians, and for the closing down of the Diego Garcia military base and all other imperialist military bases. It is in this general context that we write to you.
However, we write to propose a specific initiative. We request that you, as Minister of Foreign Affairs, take the important historic initiative of contacting the new Director of the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency who will replace Dr. M. Baradei. We request that you do so at the earliest possible time. We call on you to request that Diego Garcia, part of Mauritius under Section 111 of the Constitution, be inspected for illegal stocks of nuclear materials in contravention of the Pelindaba Treaty for a Nuclear Arms Free Africa, a treaty that came into force in July, 2009.
We draw your attention to the fact that in 2004, LALIT publicly called on the International Red Cross to do inspections for illegal rendering being done on Mauritian territory (see letter annexed). The last Government, however, did nothing to support this previous initiative of ours. Had your predecessors given heed to our proposed initiative, Mauritius could today have held its head high in the international community, because Mr. Gordon Brown, UK Prime Minister finally 5 years later admitted that there had in fact been illegal prisoners held on what is, in fact, Mauritian territory. And he apologized. We hope you do not neglect your duty to take up this new LALIT initiative. This time, failure to do so may cause Mauritius to be in contravention of a binding Treaty.

The UK and USA are, we believe, right now in contravention of the Pelindaba Treaty. Their actions are causing Mauritius, in turn, to be in contravention. The UK and US are illegally occupying Mauritian territory and it is well known that they are stocking nuclear materials on it. The Treaty states at Article 4.1 that "Each Party undertakes to prohibit in its territory the stationing of any nuclear explosive device." Mauritius will need to call on the United Nations for help in respecting the Treaty. We point out for your interest, that the Protocol II of the Treaty (which has been signed by both the UK and USA, and also ratified and deposited by the UK) states that "Each Protocol Party undertakes not to contribute to any act that constitutes a violation of the Treaty." The opening statement of Protocol II enunciates the aim of the Treaty: a "world entirely free of nuclear weapons".
The procedure we suggest is as follows: The African Commission on Nuclear Energy (AFCONE) has recently been set up for complaints under the Treaty; the Government should therefore perhaps submit a formal and public complaint to this Commission at the same time as one to the Director of the IAEA for an inspection under the UN's auspices.
We are fully aware that there are "dotted lines" around Diego Garcia and the Chagos in Annex I to this Treaty, but we believe that the Mauritian government has the right to challenge the significance of these illegal dotted lines, and to demand an inspection. Mauritius must avoid being in contravention of this vital and binding Treaty. It is also important, at the very moment when there is a confrontation with Iran on enrichment of nuclear material, that Mauritian territory be free of nuclear armaments.
We believe this initiative, if taken, will at the same time of course put into question the illegal nature of the UK-US occupation of the Chagos Islands.
Yours faithfully,
Alain Ah-Vee, for LALIT, 3 December, 2009
Copies to: African Commission on Nuclear Energy, UN IAEA, Press in Mauritius & Abroad

COPY OF 2004 LETTER TO MS FRANCOISE KRILL, THE HEAD OF OPERATIONS FOR SOUTHERN AFRICA, INTERNATIONAL COMMITTEE OF THE RED CROSS REGIONAL DELEGATION FOR SOUTHERN AFRICA in June, 2004.
Dear Ms. Krill,
Request for International Committee of the Red Cross to Contact Republic of Mauritius for Inspection concerning Prisoners Held in Diego Garcia (Chagos, Republic of Mauritius)
We have noted the concern expressed recently by Mr. Francois Stam, ICRC head of operations for North America and Europe, about the United States` "ghost prisoners", some of whom may be held on or near the Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia, which is one of the "unspecified locations" for holding suspects. We write to you because Diego Garcia in Mauritius, is under the responsibility of your Regional Delegation.
Being aware that the ICRC wishes to account for these prisoners, and as a peoples` organization which has been involved in the struggle around Diego Garcia, we write this letter to suggest formally that the ICRC contact the Mauritian Government to request permission for an inspection.
The Mauritian Constitution at Section 111, reads: " `Mauritius` includes
(a) the Islands of Mauritius, Rodrigues, Agalega, Tromelin, Cargados Carajos and the Chagos Archipelago, including Diego Garcia and any other island comprised in the State of Mauritius;
(b) the territorial sea and the air space above the territorial sea and the islands specified in paragraph (a)
The Mauritian Coast Guard has the legal right to patrol around Diego Garcia.
Mauritius gained Independence in 1968. The Charter of the United Nations specifically outlaws the breaking up of colonies on Independence. The Chagos Archipelago, including Diego Garcia, was, nevertheless, excised illegally by the British State at the time of Mauritian independence.
Chagos is today what the UK and USA call by the name "British Indian Ocean Territories" (BIOT), a colonial "fiction" recognized by no other State in the world. (The Government of Seychelles has since the initial invention of this fiction, subsequently successfully reclaimed its stolen Islands - Aldabra, Farquar and Desroches - which, together with Chagos, made up the original BIOT).
From 1965 to 1973 all the Mauritians living on Chagos were forcibly removed, mainly to the main island of Mauritius. The Chagossian people won a High Court Case in 2000 in London, awarding them the right to return to Chagos.
Moreover, on 10th June, 2004, only three weeks after the ICRC communique, the British Government passed Orders in Council prohibiting everyone including Chagossians from going to the entire Chagos. These Orders are being challenged in Court in the UK.
All this to inform you that Chagos, including Diego Garcia where prisoners are held, is part of Mauritius. As such, we believe that it would be appropriate for your Regional Office of the International Committee of the Red Cross to approach the Mauritian Government, which holds sovereignty, to seek permission for a formal visit of inspection to Diego Garcia.
Yours sincerely,
Lindsey Collen