Archive for March, 2009

EU recognises islanders’ plight

Posted in Uncategorized on March 26th, 2009 by Robert Bain – Be the first to comment

On 25 March the European Parliament, in Plenary session, adopted a resolution calling for the European Union to take steps to seek the return of the Chagossians to their homeland. The parliament said it “recognises the plight of the people of the Chagos Archipelago, who have been forcibly removed from their islands and are currently living in a state of poverty in the islands of Mauritius and the Seychelles, and considers that the Union should work towards trying to find a solution for the Chagossians to allow them to return to their rightful homeland islands.”

This was tabled by SW England MEP Glyn Ford, and the resolution was adopted by a majority of approximately 500 to 50.

Posted in Uncategorized on March 20th, 2009 by Robert Bain – Be the first to comment

The Chagos Islands all-party parliamentary group held its fourth meeting on 18 March. The Group is seeking to arrange meetings with the High Commissioner for Mauritius; Hengride Permal, chair of the Chagos Islands Community Association; and Allen Vincatassin, leader of the Diego Garcian community.

The Group had a meeting with Mr Bancoult and delegation and discussed a number of issues of concern to Chagossians both in Mauritius and the UK. Mr Bancoult made clear that for all Chagossians, restoration of the right to return was paramount and that whatever else HMG were able to do for them such assistance could not be a substitute for this. The Group drew attention to the amendment recently tabled in the Lords to the Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Bill, which would grant UK citizenship by registration to those who would have had it if their parents had not been evicted. Whether or not the amendment is adopted by both the Lords and the Commons is yet to be seen.

The Group then had a meeting with three officials from the US Embassy. The group has raised the issues of resettlement on the Outer Islands, the security of the base on Diego Garcia and the future of the 1966 Anglo-American Exchange of Letters, renewable in 2016, in a letter to President Obama. The American side made it clear that security of the Base and sovereignty was entirely the responsibility of the UK. The US had never taken a public position on resettlement on the Outer Islands. The Group looked forward to receiving a reply to the letter to the President. The next meeting is likely to be in the first half of May.

As well as meeting with the APPG, Olivier Bancoult and supporters also met with Foreign Office Minister Gillian Merron during their trip to the UK, and explained that they have not given up the desire to return to their homeland. A letter was handed to Ms Merron setting out the islanders’ requests and rights as British citizens concerning issues including health, education, pensions and culture.

Olivier also had the chance to meet Reverend Jesse Jackson, who was in London for a forum on Sri Lanka, and who voiced his support. Olivier is planning a trip to the US in May.

MPs from all parties discuss Chagos

Posted in Uncategorized on March 13th, 2009 by Robert Bain – Be the first to comment

The All Party Parliamentary Group on Chagos held its third meeting on 4 March, with a good turnout from both Houses and all three parties. The group discussed the proposal for a Chagos Conservation Area, supporting this conservation initiative but taking the view that the interests of the Chagossians remain paramount. The Group considered several actions in progress: a possible new study on the practicalities of resettlement, contacts with EU Commissioners and party political leaders in the European Parliament, the case in Strasbourg, a letter that has been sent on behalf of the group to President Obama and Gordon Brown, and a forthcoming meeting with the US Embassy. The next meeting of the Group will be on 18 March to coincide with the visit of Olivier Bancoult who will meet members and who later will call on Gillian Merron MP, the FCO Minister responsible for BIOT.