Chagossian struggle marked on Human Rights Day
Just weeks after the government's decision not to allow Chagossians to return home, the Chagossian struggle for their most fundamental rights has received attention on international Human Rights Day.
Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn raised the matter in a speech in London marking the occasion, In a speech focused in part on the contribution of women to the human rights struggles around the world, Mr Corbyn picked up on the work of Sabrina Jean, Chairperson of the Chagos Refugee Group UK branch.
His comments on Chagos included:
"Sabrina Jean, is one of the many women I have known who fought back.
The daughter of a Chagossian, a mother living in Crawley, a campaigner fighting for the right of return Chagos Islanders who were expelled from Diego Garcia in the 1960s to make way for a US military base.
Despite this Government’s decision to deny their right to return to their homes – a basic human right – and a dark stain on British foreign policy."
The spirit, and their campaign for justice lives on."
Later in the event Mr Corbyn promised a Labour government would rectify this injustice and support Chagossian return.
It is not just Labour, however, who have stood up for Chagossians' human rights this Human Rights Day. The Chagos Islands All-Party Parliamentary Group also had a letter published in The Times criticsing the Government's offer of community project support as "no substitute for one of the most basic human rights: to live in one's homeland." The group has members from all political parties represented at Westminster.
The full text of the letter, which was signed by over 30 Group members, is below.
All Party Parliamentary Group Letter to the Times
UN human rights day today marks the anniversary of the 1948 universal
declaration of human rights. This year’s slogan is “Stand up for someone’s rights
today”. The government’s decision last month not to allow resettlement of the
Chagos Islands is a human rights travesty for Chagossians. This decision was
strongly contested in debates in parliament the next day.
Chagossians have campaigned to return home since the 1970s. In 2000, their right
of abode was restored by the High Court but they lacked the means to return. The
cruel exercise of the royal prerogative in 2004 banned them once again. The recent
KPMG report has shown resettlement to be feasible, but the government has chosen
not to implement it, instead offering enhanced project assistance and an apology.
This cannot be a substitute for one of the most basic of human rights — to live in
one’s homeland. In any case the right of abode can and should be restituted.