On 3rd September native-born Chagossian Liseby Elyse spoke via video link in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) dispute on the sovereignty of the Chagos Islands.
Madame Elysé 's speech was shown as part of the Mauritian delegation's presentation to the ICJ. Her words are translated in full below from the ICJ's transcript and her original speech can be viewed in the video below.
Full transcripts of all presentations are available on the ICJ's website.
My name is Liseby Elysé. I was born on 24 July 1953 in Peros Banhos. My father was born in Six Iles. My mother was born in Peros Banhos. My grandparents also were born there.
I form part of the Mauritius delegation. I am telling how I have suffered since I have been uprooted from my paradise island. I am happy that the International Court is listening to us today. And I am confident that I will return to the island where I was born. In Chagos everyone had a job, his family and his culture.
But all that we ate was fresh food. Ships which came from Mauritius brought all our goods. We received our groceries. We received all that we needed. We did not lack anything. In Chagos everyone lived a happy life. But one day the administrator told us that we had to leave our island, leave our houses and go away.
All persons were unhappy. They were angry that we were told to go away. But we had no choice. They did not give us any reason. Up to now we have not been told why we had to leave. But afterwards ships which used to bring food stopped coming. We had nothing to eat. No medicine. Nothing at all. We suffered a lot.
But then one day, a ship called Nordvaer came. The administrator told us we had to board the ship, leaving everything, leaving all our personal belongings behind except a few clothes and go. People were very angry about that and when this was done, it was done in the dark. We boarded the ship in the dark so that we could not see our island. And when we boarded the ship, conditions in the hull of the ship were bad. We were like animals and slaves in that ship.
People were dying of sadness in that ship. And as for me I was 4 months pregnant at that time. The ship took 4 days to reach Mauritius. After our arrival, my child was born and died. Why did my child die? For me, it was because I was traumatized on that ship, I was very worried. I was upset. This is why when my child was born, he died.
I maintain we must not lose hope. We must think one day will come when we will return on the land where we were born. My heart is suffering, and my heart still belongs to the island where I was born. But nobody would like to be uprooted from the island where he was born, to be uprooted like animals. And it’s heart breaking. And I maintain justice must be done. And I must return to the island where I was born.
Don’t you feel that it is heart breaking when someone is uprooted from his island like an animal and he does not know where he is being brought?
And I am very sad. I still don’t know how I left my Chagos. They expelled us by force. And I am very sad. My tears keep rolling every day. I keep thinking I must return to my island. I maintain I must return to the island where I was born and I must die there and where my grandparents have been buried. In the place where I took birth, and in my native island.