Carta Capital: Brazilian magazine reports on Chagos fight for justice
Brazilian weekly magazine Carta Capital has picked up the story of the Chagossian people's long fight for justice, in an excellent Spanish language article published this week. Read the original article in full and in Spanish here. You can read an automated translation, meanwhile, via the Google Translate service.
Clear distinct memories of the unique life and culture which Chagossians had enjoyed for centuries on the Islands prior to deportation open the report. Speaking to journalist Francisco Colaço Pedro, native-born Chagossian Rita David recalls life on the Archipelago vividly:
"Life was easy; full of joy. Everyone had their home and their garden. We served the land, the land served us."
Chagos Refugee Group leader Oliver Bancoult also comments throughout the article and emphasises the power of Chagossian identity and culture. “We were descendants of slaves. We lived in prosperity, with our language culture and traditions.”
The history of the Chagossian deportation, when thousands of Chagossians were forced from their homes so a US military base could be built on Diego Garcia, is also briefly summarised. Importantly, the suffering endured by Chagossians in exile is also explained throughout the piece.
“We slept in cardboard boxes, in miserable houses,” explains Rita David, drawing a stark contrast with her life on Chagos. Equally stark is the family members listed in the article who Mrs David and Mr Bancoult have lost to poverty, drug addiction, alcohol, suicide and even “sagren” (a Creole term meaning sadness or despair) in the years following the deportation.
The article concludes summarising the “long and uneven battle” between the Chagossians and the UK and US Governments. UK Chagos Support Association comments about how resettlement is “perfectly achievable” are quoted. The soon to be concluded Supreme Court case is also mentioned, with the involvement of high-profile human rights lawyer Amal Clooney also referenced.