"So-called Chagossians" Seychelles Chagossians condemn former President Mancham's cont

Chagossians born on the Chagos Islands, exiled to The Seychelles, on a brief return visit to the Islands

The Seychelles Chagossian Committee has condemned comments Sir James Mancham in which the former President of The Seychelles used the term “so-called Chagossians.”

Pierre Prosper, the new Chairperson of the Seychelles Chagossian Committee, the recently elected chairperson of the Seychelles Chagossians Committee, has responded strongly “Sir James Mancham’s article relegates all Chagossians to temporary migrant workers, with no indigenous history. We find his statements offensive. Sadly they reflect his past attitudes towards Chagossians and our struggle throughout the decades.”

“A lot of effort has been expended over the years to clarify the Chagossians' status as the native people of the Chagos,” Mr Prosper added, explaining his frustrations with continued ignorance around Chagossian history. “There has been a settled population on the islands since 1776. When the British took over the islands in 1814 they recorded that there was already a settled population.”

The former President made the disrespectful remarks whilst commenting on the potential for the resettled islands to be used for tourism. Mr Mangham in fact supported Chagossians right to return, but focused on the potential commercial benefits for Seychelles and Mauritius-based firms.

“The Chagossian people,” Mr Prosper continued in response, “should be the prime beneficiaries of any future commercial possibilities.”

“If major hotels in Seychelles or Mauritius or anywhere else can hire professional management, so can the Chagossians hire professionals and / or decide on the best way forward.”

It was also noted by Mr Prosper that Sir James Mancham's interest in justice for Chagossians has only emerged with the prospect of return and potential commercial opportunity becoming closer.

“Whilst he was an active, senior politician, The Seychelles Chagossian Committee on several occasions requested meetings with Sir James Mancham, to tell him the real story of the Chagossian people. He would have been privy to valuable information which may have helped our cause. Sir James on each occasion refused.”

We wholeheartedly back the views of Seychelles Chagossian Committee. Any commercial opportunity arising from Chagossian return to their homeland must be directed by and give benefit to the Chagossian people, first and foremost.

Certainly those who ignorantly disrespect Chagossians' heritage as the original and indigenous people of the Chagos Archipelago can have to claim to dictate the future of Chagossians.

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