the Disillusioned kid: Vote Chagos
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Friday, April 29, 2005

Vote Chagos

Some clever so an so involved in the UK Chagos Support Association has pinned the LibDems down on their policy vis-รก-vis the Chagossians. What have they got to say?
Thank you for your recent letter regarding the island of Diego Garcia.

The Liberal Democrats share the sentiments of many that the treatment of the islanders by successive British Governments has been shameful. The displacement of the islanders from their homeland should never have taken place and is something to be deeply regretted. However much we may regret their displacement it seems to be unrealistic and impractical for the islanders to be resettled now back on Diego Garcia after so many years.

This issue remains a sorry chapter in British history. Her Majesty's Government can go some way in repairing the damage by providing the Chagossians with the apology they deserve, adequate compensation and assistance for those islanders where they are currently located, and the opportunity to return, for visits to loved ones gravesides for example.

There have also been persistent reports that prisoners from the war on terror are being held and interrogated on Diego Garcia in a facility called 'Camp Justice'. Our spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, the Rt. Hon. Sir Menzies Campbell MP, has raised this subject with the Government on several occasions and you can be assured that the Liberal Democrats will continue to monitor events in the region.

I hope that this is helpful.


Marianne Sladowsky
Policy Officer
Liberal Democrat Policy Unit
The first paragraph with its assertions that the "displacement" was "shameful" and "to be deeply regretted", while return is "unrealistic and impractical" is essentially identical to the line pushed by Bill Rammell and the Labour Government. The second paragraph also doesn't seem to be much of a step forward from Government policy (although its worth bearing in mind that while facilitating visits to ancestors' graves is government policy on a rhetorical level, none have as yet been able to return). The third paragraph is a positive sign and a real concern, although where they mention reports of detainees being "interrogated" I would use the less slippery "tortured".

In related news, Green Left Weekly have an interview with John Pilger about his documentary about the islanders (which incidentally is being reshown in the UK in July in case anybody missed it).

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