Chagos Citizenship Bill media round-up
After over a year of working with MPs, lawyers, advocates and the Chagossian community, last week the British Indian Ocean Territory (Citizenship) Bill was finally presented to Parliament.
The reading of the Bill received widespread media coverage. below is a round up, so you can get to grips with why this Bill is so crucial in the campaign for justice for the Chagos Islanders. And don't forget, you can contribute to our 'fighting fund' to help Chagossians who are currently struggling to keep their families together in the UK.
Our wonderful Patron, Benjamin Zephaniah, wrote a very informative and emotive piece for the Guardian, in which he gave a stirring account of the struggle a young Chagossian mother named Jeanette has faced in getting British citizenship for her daughters.
He argues: "The forced exile was shameful in the first place. Today’s governments should be doing whatever they can to make amends for their predecessors’ crimes. Instead they perpetuate them".
Lucy Bannerman wrote a compelling expose of the effect of current British citizenship law on Chagossians by interviewing a number of Chagossians about their struggle. Dieuma Soopramanien, a mother of 8, tells her woes of shelling out tens of thousands of pounds to keep her children in the country.
The article is behind a paywall but you can get free access to three Times articles a week by registering with your email address.
In Emily Duggan's article, she interviews Hanley Goolamsing - a man of Chagossian descent who was deported from the UK in December 2016.
Mr Goolamsing tragic story demonstrates why the law is in urgent need of reform. “All my family is in England: my grandmother, my aunts, and all their children,” he said. “When I came back to Mauritius I had no place to live and just £50 in my pocket. I had no place to stay and nothing to eat. I was homeless for almost three months.”
In this guest piece for New Int, our Chair, Tom Guha, explains why Henry Smith's Bill is so important.
"Despite being culturally and linguistically assimilated with British society, the threat of detention or deportation looms like a spectre over many Chagossian children, waiting for them once they reach adulthood".
Crawley, West Sussex, is home to the largest population of Chagossians in the country. Crawley also happens to be the constituency of Henry Smith - the MP who presented this Bill. Our Chair, Tom Guha, went live on BBC Sussex to explain to local residents what their MP has been up to - and why it is so important.
In this piece for Central Lobby, Politics Home, Henry Smith MP explains why his Bill must be given Government support.
He explains: "My Bill will not provide special privileges to the Chagossian people, but would seek to reinstate citizenship rights for descendants of those who were exiled, whose forced removal from their homeland meant that the ability to acquire such status was also taken away".
Russia Today ran a short feature on Henry Smith's Bill, in which Isabel Marie, Chair of the Chagos Islanders' Movement, gives an excellent interview, explaining why the Bill means so much to Chagossians.
Crawley News 24
Following the presentation of the Bill, Crawley News 24 spoke to the Home Secretary, Amber Rudd MP, about the prospect of Government support for Henry Smith's Bill. She said she will "look carefully" at it. We look forward to hearing more from the Home Office in the months to come.