Obama & Cameron to discuss Chagossian future
This weekend UK Prime Minister David Cameron and US President Barack Obama will discuss the future of the Chgossian people. Our Patron Ben Fogle is calling on them to "make history" by delivering some long overdue justice and supporting a fair return programme.
UPDATE: We can now confirm the future of the Chagos Islands was discussed by the two leaders, as was reported in the media.
As Prime Minister David Cameron and US President Barack Obama meet this weekend, the contents of their private discussions will be closely guarded. Public words will be carefully chosen and well rehearsed.
Chagossians were forced from their Indian Ocean Chagos Islands homeland over 40 years ago. British citizens, then as now, they were nevertheless abandoned on the docks of Mauritius and the Seychelles, so a US military base could be constructed on the largest Chagos Island, Diego Garcia.
The UK-US agreement on the use of the Islands was signed in 1966 and expires this year. As that original agreement demanded the deportation of the Chagossian people, both Governments are now coming under pressure to make support for Chagossian return a condition for any extension of that deal.
Following an in-depth feasibility study completed in early 2015, the UK Government has now accepted that return is “practically feasible.” A further consultation with the Chagossian people also demonstrated mass enthusiasm for return, and indeed for working alongside US forces on the military base.s
All that remains then is the final decision on whether the UK Government will make the investment to end Chagossians exile.
TV Presenter Ben Fogle, a long-time campaigner with the Chagossian people and a Patron of UK Chagos Support Association, called on both leaders to agree now to end the exile.
"With both these leaders in their final terms, they should seize this opportunity to make history and end half a century of injustice suffered by the Chagossian people."
There have been some suggestions that US “concerns” may hold up return, but this has never been confirmed by the US Government. There are hopes that this visit at the very least may bring some clarity to the US position on Chagossian return.
We can only hope that the positive "change" Obama pledged to deliver 8 years ago extends to the Chagossian people, who have suffered half a century of disregard and oppression by successive Governments in the UK and the US.