Parliamentary Debate on Chagos Islands: Wednesday 28 October
Next Wednesday (4:30-5:30) Parliament will host the first debate on Chagossian demands for return to their homeland for many years. Following a successful request for a Westminster Hall debate, Ministers will be forced to answer questions from MPs about the ongoing consultation into Chagossian resettlement.
Chagossians were forced from their homeland in the late 60s and early 70s so a US military base could be built on Diego Garcia. Having fought long and hard for the right to return, this year the UK Government will decide whether to permit Chagossian return to the Chagos Islands, which remain British territory.
The consultation process has been controversial, with some Chagossians unhappy with terms that suggest they could only return as “contract workers,” rather than British Overseas Territory citizens (the status held by the Falkland Islanders and Gibraltarians.) As contract workers, Chagossians would not have the “right to abode” in their homeland they have long fought for.
What You Can Do
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It is expected these issues, along with many others, will be raised during the debate. SNP MP Paul Monaghan, who secured the debate in Westminster Hall, stated that “I am delighted we’ll be able to force the Government to answer important questions in this debate. The UK Government must recognise the Islanders inalienable rights.”
A range of other MPs from across all political parties are expected to speak. Although the Government have been slow to respond to Chagossian demands for justice, the cause does enjoy broad cross-party support, as is evidenced by the Chagos Islands All-Party Group which features MPs from almost all parties.