UK Labour Party back Chagossian return in Manifesto
The UK Labour Party have confirmed that, if they form the next government, they will restore Chagossians right to return to their homeland. This would reverse a decision taken by the previous Conservative government not to support a return programme, after the conclusion of a three-year policy review.
This is the first time a major UK party has formally backed Chagossians right to return to their homeland. Not all party manifestos have yet been published, and we hope other parties will also back Chagossians human rights and pledges to restore their right to live in their homeland.
In the past, parties inlcuding the SNP, Green Party and SDLP have formally backed Chagossians right to return, but such a policy has not been outrightly stated in a manifesto.
In the 'A Global Britain' section of their manifesto, which deals with Foreign Affairs, the Labour Party pledges that:
"We will always stand up for the rights, interests and self-determination of Britain’s overseas territories and their citizens, whether protecting the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands against anyone who would seek to challenge it, or supporting the right of the Chagos islanders to return to their homelands."
This is a historic moment in the history of the Chagossian struggle, and UK Chagos Support Association wholly welcomes this commitment. We hope that as well as restoring the right to return, a future Labour Government will put in place a programme to help Chagossians return to their homeland home.
We also encourage other parties, and candidates, to make similar commitments. You can ask your local candidate to commit to work for justice if elected using our template letter.
Labour Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry had hinted several weeks ago in a BBC interview that such a commitment would be included in their manifesto, saying that:
"Britain’s overseas territories are a fundamental part of our national history and Labour will always stand up for the rights, interests and self-determination of their citizens, whether that means protecting the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands against anyone who would seek to challenge it, or supporting the right of the Chagos Islanders to return to their homelands in Diego Garcia."
All Chagossians have ever asked for are the same rights which are afforded to other British citizens: the right to live in the land of their birth and of their ancestors. It's welcome that Labour Party have recognised the need for the next UK government to deliver those rights to the Chagossian people, who have suffered for so long under governments of all colours.