Chagossians react to UN vote condemning UK control of Chagos

Image courtesy of BBC World News, from the report linked to below

Last week the United Nations General Assembly backed a non-binding motion calling on the UK to end it's control of the Chagos Islands. The motion instructed that control and sovereignty of the islands should then pass to Mauritius. If control is ceded to Mauritius, the Mauritian government has pledged to support resettlement of the islands.

In the week since the UN vote, many Chagossians living across the world have shared their opinion on the judgement, what this means and what needs to happen next.

It's crucial that Chagossian voices are listened to by all involved in this dispute - the UK, the US, Mauritius and the UN - as next steps are decided in the coming months. Naturally there's a variety of opinion, so we've included links to as many articles and interviews quoting Chagossians as possible below.

Chagos Refugees Group co-founder and leader Olivier Bancoult spoke to Defi Media, welcoming a "historic victory," having worked with the Mauritian government as it challenged the UK government over it's control of the Chagos Islands. He added that it was time for the UK government to now show "a little fair play" and "allow the Chagossians to return to Chagos."

Chagos Islanders Movement Chair spoke to Al-Jazeera as part of the network's report on the UN vote (see right). She laments the lack of support Chagossians were offered after their deportation. Speaking on Twitter, Ms Charlot added that she also felt "[neither] USA, UK or Mauritius safeguarded our interests." The Chagos Islanders Movement Twitter account added that Chagossians should be able to "choose their own destiny" as the "indigenous people of the island."

Allen Vincatassin, leader of the Diego Garcia and Chagos Islands Council, gave an interview to the UK's Channel 4 News on the day of the UN vote. Speaking to Jon Snow, he outlined his view that the Chagos Islands should remain under UK control. He also stated though that the UK government needed to urgently look again at it's policy on allowing Chagossians to return home, citing the 2016 Foreign Office commissioned KPMG report which stated Chagossian resettlement of the islands could be feasible.

Sabrina Jean, Chair of Chagos Refugees Group in the UK, spoke at length to the BBC's Newshour programme (Chagos is the first feature on the programme), which also included comment from Chagos Islands All-Party Parliamentary Group Coordinator David Snoxell. Ms Jean welcomed the vote as a "good thing for the Chagossian community" and urged the Mauritian government to "work together closely" with the Chagossian community as the battle to return continues. Mr Snoxell remarked that the vote was a victory for "Mauritius, Chagossians, the rule of law and particularly human rights."

Ms Jean also spoke to RT, giving her reaction to the verdict.

Chagossians Committee Seychelles Chair Pierre Prosper gave a further perspective, representing those Chagossians exiled to the Seychelles, when speaking to Seychelles News Agency, Mr Prosper stated that he felt any resettled Chagossian community under Mauritian government control needed to have maximum possible self-government.

He adds that "we will further ask the Mauritian government, in their negotiations with the UK, to talk about fair compensation for all Chagossians and especially for those disposed in Seychelles, that never received any form of compensation."

BBC World also published an article recording the opinions of a selection of Chagossians in and around the Crawley area to the UN vote. This included third-generation Chagossians facing immigration difficulties in the UK and native-born Chagossians still fighting for the right to return.

Our Committee Chair Tom Guha also spoke to RT about the vote. His full interview can be seen here.

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