Chagos Return decision: UK Media Round up
Despite a history almost too shocking to believe, the Chagossian struggle has had fairly scant media coverage over the years. Few people knew about their deportation when it happened, and few even today fully appreciate what repeated and fundamental betrayals Chagossians have suffered at the hands of their own Government.
Sadly the biggest spike in media interest we have witnessed was after the UK Government's shameful decision to deny Chagossians' the right to return home. With coverage from the BBC, ITV, the Guardian, Daily Mail, most UK papers and a host of international channels, it was the first time we've ever seen 'Chagos' trending on social media. If only it could have been in different circumstances.
If there is any positive it is that almost to a man/ woman, all those who learned about the Chagossian struggle that day are potential new supporters. They are people who were shocked by what they learned, and what, in the case of UK citizens, was being done in their name. So below let's have a look at that media coverage.
UK Media Coverage of the Return Decision
With notice of the government's decision only coming though just hours before the decision was made, the whole Chagossian community was stunned by the devastating news. Several though did speak to the media on the day of the decision and over the next few days.
Allen Vincatassin, leader of the Diego Garcia and Chagos Island Council, spoke both to BBC News (right)and Al-Jazeera (above) throughout the day, also appearing on several radio programmes. His interview with Al-Jazeera was part of an in-depth report which also features a short clip of our Vice-Chair Stefan Donnelly.
Stefan also appeared on 24 hour news channel RT to discuss the decision later in the day, and spoke with BBC Radio Sussex about the decision (below left). Meanwhile our Treasurer Peri spoke to BBC Radio Surrey and Philippa Gregory, our Patron and former Secretary, spoke at length to a Share Radio the following weekend. ITV also ran a report.
Most of the coverage was in the print media, however, and it was largely sympathetic, as were readers comments.
The story was leaked to the Guardian, so a story by Patrick Wintour was the first to report the decision hours before the Written Statement was released. In spite of Government suggestions, we had no prior warning of the decision and it is difficult to see where else the leak could have come from than the Foreign Office.
News Agency Reuters put together a report meaning the story was picked up across the world. Reports have appeared in Switzerland, the USA and Argentina. And of course other nations with sizable Chagossian populations, primarily Mauritius and the Seychelles (Seychelles News Agency), included considerable media coverage.
One of our bilingual volunteers is putting together a Mauritian media round-up at the moment. Much of the Mauritian coverage has linked to the ongoing sovereignty dispute over the Chagos Islands between the UK and Mauritius. Mauritian Prime Minister Sir Anerood Jugnauth restated his country's claim to the whole of the Chagos Archipelago in the aftermath of the decision.
More in-depth analysis came from Chagos Islands All-Party Parliamentary Group Coordinator David Snoxell, who wrote a scathing critique of the decision published on Conservative Home. In fact the All-Party Parliamentary Group released its own public statement criticising the decision, which is published on our website.
Let's hope the people reading who only learned about the Chagossian struggle on the day hope was once again snatched away from them will join the fight-which goes on-to win justice.