Chagos Refugees Group leader Olivier Bancoult on anniversary of refusal to support Chagos Return

Olivier Bancoult speaking outside the Supreme Court
Olivier Bancoult speaking outside the Supreme Court

Four years ago today, the UK Government made the deeply disappointing decision not to support Chagossians to return to their homeland and not to lift the legal ban on Chagossians living in their homeland.

At the same time, Ministers announced a £40m Support Package with the aim of supporting Chagossians where they live now. With only a very small proportion of that money being spent so far, Chagos Refugees Group President Olivier Bancoult has released the below statement today marking this anniversary.

Chagos Refugees Group President Olivier Bancoult's statement

Today 16th November 2020 it is exactly four years since UK Foreign Office presented in the British Parliament a written statement regarding a Financial Support Package for the Chagossian community and also stated the UK government position regarding resettlement in the Chagos Archipelago, that it would be impossible for resettlement to take place because of terrorism and piracy.

They announced a Financial Support Package of 40 millions pounds sterling which were to be spend as follows:

1. To improve condition of living of Chagossians wherever they are, in UK, Mauritius and Seychelles

2. Education

3. Health

4. Training

5. Heritage visits in Chagos.

With all those mentioned above only heritage visits have taken place, all others have not been fulfilled. This is how a supposedly government who always says that they are very sympathetic to our cause and who even apologized for what happened in the 1960's continues to consider our plea by having an inhumane behavior towards us.

A government who says that they are very concerned about human rights and violation of people rights.

We asked for a life pension to be given to all native Chagossians and other Chagossian groups also made several proposals such as funeral grants, welcome venue/house for those who decide to settle in the UK, creation of jobs, compensation, scholarship for Chagossian students, medical check up for all Chagossians etc.

But not even one request was favorably accepted or considered, same thing happened with the Marine Protected area in 2010.

Since 16th November 2016 many of our Chagossians have passed away including my Mum who was hoping to be able to return on her native land and to get a compensation for all what she had suffered over all these years.

How can we Chagossians continue to believe and trust what the Foreign Office says as they have never shouldered their responsibilities towards us, comparing to Falklanders and other British Overseas Territories.

On 4th November 2020 in a mail addressed to UK Chagossian Community Residents, Paul Stokes desk officer of the British Indian Ocean Territory invites Chagossians for an English language course where only 20 places were available and that the course would take place at Crawley College.

This course was to be included as an expenditure in the Chagossian Support Package. Chagossians in the UK are well aware that those courses are free for low income people in UK.

This is how the UK government considers us, they think we are stupid and unaware of certain things.

Since announcing the Support Package the British government could have taken many positive steps for Chagossians if they really had the wish to do so and the goodwill but unfortunately they had not.

Instead of finding solutions they continue to deny their responsibilities towards Chagossians. Now they want to divide and rule, this is the way they have always behaved.

I make an appeal to all my brothers and sisters, just realize if we can continue to survive with false promises as day by day our people are disappearing without seeing their legitimate wishes being fulfilled.

We need to stand our ground and say no to manipulation, division and false promises.

Kind regards to you all,

Olivier Bancoult OSK President

Chagos Refugees Group

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