A recent article in the Guardian by Josh Reichert (Pew Environmental Group) in support of the Chagos Marine Protected Area (MPA) contained a number of untruths.
For example, in the second paragraph he states that since their expulsion, “the UK has maintained that the Chagossians have no right of abode on the islands.” This is untrue as the right of return, which implies abode, was restored between Nov 2000 and June 2004 by Robin Cook (then Foreign Secretary), and overturned by Orders-in-Council.
In paragraph four, Reichert states that the “Pew Environment Group worked with a range of organisations and individuals – including Chagossians – to advocate its establishment as a highly protected marine reserve.” In fact, the Pew Environment Group worked with only one small group of UK-based Chagossians, the Diego Garcia Society, and made no contact with the Chagos Refugees Group. The latter is the largest group of islanders, based in Mauritius and led by Olivier Bancoult, who brought the case against the UK government to establish the right of return.
Later in the article he states that the “provisional government of Diego Garcia and the Chagos Islands support protected status for the Archipelago”. In fact, all Chagossians support an MPA but not one which excludes them from their homeland.
It is extermely disappointing that the Pew Group continues to peddle untruths to defend their position, particularly now that the UK government’s cynical motivation for the creation of the Chagos MPA has been exposed.