Chagossians to protest at 10 Downing Street Thursday 15 December

50 years ago the Chagossian Community were forced into exile by the UK Government to enable the construction of a US airbase on Diego Garcia. The 50 year agreement between the US and UK comes to its end on December 30 of this year.

However, on Wednesday 16 November, the Government made the decision not to go ahead with a resettlement scheme that would have allowed a number Chagossians to return to their islands.

The agreement will roll on for another 20 years without the presence of the islanders.

Rallying against this decision, the Chagossian Community will be presenting a petition to 10 Downing Street on Thursday 15 December at 14:30.

There will be a demonstration opposite Downing Street from 11:00 – 17:00 on that same day.

There will also be a public press press for a conference which will be conducted by community leaders at the site of the demonstration on Whitehall, opposite the entrance to 10 Downing Street, at 13:30. All media are welcome and Chagossian community leaders will be happy to give extended interviews.

The event has been organised by the Chagossian community group Chagos Islands Welfare Group, and members of the group will lead the protest.

Chagos Islands Welfare Group Committe Members Jeanpaul France, Isabelle Charlot and Franky Bontemps issued the following statement explaining the demonstration:

"Christmas should be a time for a time to feel secure and happy in our homes and with our families. For Chagossians it marks the 50th anniversary of our expulsion from our homes and homeland to make way for a US airbase.

"Since being abandoned by the UK government, our families have been divided across the globe by unjust migration and immigration policies. We have been impoverished and neglected by the policies of successive UK governments which have filled our lives with sorrow, insecurity and hopelessness."

"Forbidden from returning to our homeland we continue the fight for humanity, justice and the restoration of our "human rights. We have been British citizens for 200 years, but are treated as undesirable aliens. Happy Christmas and Peace on Earth to all."

"6 native-born Chagos Islanders will be presenting a letter to Theresa May at 10 Downing Street on Thursday 15th December, and shortly before we will be staging a press conference in Whitehall at 1.30pm, opposite Downing Street. There will be a protest at that location between 11.00 and 17.00."

UK Chagos Support Association, a voluntary group for non-Chagossians backing the campaign for return, is also supporting the protest, with a spokesperson stating:

"Chagossians are protesting today to raise awareness about the injustice they have suffered, both in the recent decision denying them the right to return to their homeland and in over 50 years in exile. Chagossians are telling the government that they will not give up their rights to their land, and that the government have a responsibility to us as British citizens. Chagossian families today are still being separated due to flawed immigration policy and many Chagossians still live in extreme difficulty as a direct consequence of the deportation and the UK government's actions"

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