The Struggle Continues
Exiled islanders who have protested outside council offices in West Sussex have vowed to fight on after a court ruled they must quit their camp.Regular readers will be aware of the Chagossian struggle in which this is but the latest set-back.
The group, from the Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia, is demanding more help towards finding housing.
A judge found in West Sussex council's favour after it served a notice telling the group to leave the camp in Crawley.Councillors spouted predictable platitudes, while attenmpting to exculpate themselves:
More than 50 Diego Garcians, all British citizens with British passports, began occupying land at the town's Centenary House social services offices in August...
A judge ruled on Friday that it was not an infringement of the islanders' human rights for the council to stop their protests.
But Yogi Amin, from law firm Irwin Mitchell, said: "Their local council is preventing them from vocalising their views and raising public awareness about the issues.
"We feel this is a clear breach of their fundamental rights... and intend to appeal the decision."
[...C]ouncillor Henry Smith, leader of West Sussex County Council, said his authority was not to blame for the "second class" treatment which the islanders claim they have been subjected to.This is an astonishingly ignorant comment. The Chagossians have been directing protests against the British government for nigh-on forty-years, with only limited success. The protest in question was over the specific question of housing. A number of the islanders have travelled to the UK in recent years (on which see here, here, here and elsewhere on this site) hoping to find better conditions than those they have lived with in Mauritius having been expelled from their homes. Now here, they have struggled to find homes. Hengride Permal of the Chagos Island Community Association complains, "We cannot afford private landlords with the minimum wages that people are making."
Mr Smith said: "We have every sympathy with their position, and indeed support it, but they have been protesting outside our offices for some months now and it is time for them to move on and to direct their protest at the government instead."