Chagossian leaders react to UK Government resettlement consultation
Leading figures of the Chagossian fight for justice have given their reaction to UK Government consultation papers on Chagossian return.
Allen Vincatassin reacted quickly the publishing of the document, releasing a statement encouraging Chagossians to respond to the questionaire attached to the consultation document. In the statement Mr Vincatassin explains he has been in touch with the team who put the document together and will continue consulting with them.
Oliver Bancoult, leader of the Chagos Refugee Group, gave a strident interview to Mauritian online publication 7Lameslamer.net (in French- a Chagossian volunteer has kindly translated the article into English which can be read here.)
In the article Mr Bancoult states "we want to return to Chagos, but not under any conditions," as he criticises elements of the UK Government's resettlement proposals.
"We will not leave our elders and our children behind," he comments, noting the documents implication that
Picking on suggestions from the consultation document that Chagossians would have similar status to temporary foreign workers who already work on the base, Mr Bancoult argues this is an illegitimate comparison.
"We are not foreigners in Chagos, we are the sons of the soil of Chagos. It is unjust then to prevent us from receiving visitors."
Fernand Mandarin, president of the Mauritius-based Chagossians' Social Committee, has accused the UK of "taking Chagossians for a ride."
"If there was a fair resettlement programme some Chagossians would definitely be interested," he commented in an interview with Defi Media. "[But] BIOT [British Indian Ocean Territory administration, the official UK Government name for the Chagos Islands) want us work for them under servitude."
The UK Government must listen to this criticism from leading Chagossian figures. There is real desire for return to the islands but fair terms must be agreed.