the Disillusioned kid: Rights Of The Wronged
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Monday, December 13, 2004

Rights Of The Wronged

The UK Chagos Support Association (hereafter UKCSA) has a report, linked from its front page suggesting that progress was made during a recent vist by representatives of the Chagossian community to the UK:
Among other things, they managed to secure an unprecedented visit to Diego Garcia for 100 Chagossians in April next year.

Olivier Bancoult and other representatives of the Chagos Refugees Group, as well as members of the Chagos Committee of the Seychelles, and other supporters, met with parliamentary undersecretary of state Bill Rammell, with whom the visit was agreed.

Mr Rammell also agreed to visit the Chagossians living in Mauritius in January, to see the conditions they are living in.
The UKCSA also link to a report of a debate on the plight of the Chagossians organised by the Minority Rights Group (MRG), but before turning to the details of this debate, it is worth pointing to comments it attribute to Chagossian community leader Olivier Bancoult:
Bancoult's delegation had earlier in the day met with Foreign Office Minister, Bill Rammell, in a meeting which they suggested did little to inspire faith in any government rethink on their position to allow no further consideration of the rights to return or compensation for the islanders.
If Rammell did indeed give permission for a visit, this is an important step, but we shouldn't get carried away. Similar things have been promised before (although, to my knowledge, a date has never previously been set for such a visit) and come to nought. Furthermore allowing the islanders to visit their homes does little to rectify the injustices done to the Chagossians by the British government.

The debate held by the MRG looks to have been fascinating and it is unfortunate that I missed it. The event, 'Diego Garcia: A Crime Against Humanity?' was held in the Houses of Commons and sponsored by MP and long-time campaigner for the rights of the Chagossians, Jeremy Corbyn. The meeting was addressed by the aforementioned Olivier Bancoult, lawyer for the Chagossians Richard Gifford, Cambridge-based anthropologist Laura Jeffrey and as a representative of the islanders living in the UK, Allen Vincatassin. There is much of interest in the report of the meeting and seeing as I wasn't there and so have little of my own to offer the best solution would seem to be to encourage you to go and read it yourself.

The report explains that Gifford's contribution to the discussion was an analysis of the expulsion as a crime against humanity. As a useful adjunct to this the MRG presents the arguments for considering the expulsion of the islanders and their subsequent treatment as a crime against humanity and the implications of such a verdict. I had considered selecting the the key parts of their analysis here, but in practice I would have to excerpt nearly the whole text. Instead I think I'll again have to encourage you to read it yourself. This time, however, I should emphasise that this is something of a must read for anyone interested in correcting the injustices done to the Chagossians. As a bonus, the analysis avoids becoming too technical, is easy too read and fairly short. Go, read it. Now!

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