Garcia in Times of Globalization
Magna Carta in England ensures right not to be exiled.
800 years later this human rights charter is referred to in the UK
Supreme Court Judgment of 2000 giving Chagossians the right to
Mauritius, including the Chagos Archipelagos and other
islands of the Indian Ocean, becomes a possession of the French East
India Company. The
French East India Company
later goes bankrupt and sells these “possessions” to the King
Permanent population begins; at first leper colony,
stable links with Mauritius Island maintained.
Chagos along with the whole of the rest of Mauritius is
ceded to Britain by France in 1814 after the 1810 capitulation
during the Napoleonic Wars. All these islands together make up the
colony known as “The Mauritius”.
Treaty of Vienna gives United Kingdom legal title to
Mauritius and its dependencies, including Chagos Archipelago.
The United Nations General Assembly
adopts Declaration 1514 (XV) on the Granting of Independence of
Colonial Countries and Peoples. UN Declaration Paragraph 5 clearly
states that the transfer of powers to the peoples of those
territories which have not yet attained independence should be
effected “without any conditions or reservations....”
A Special Committee on Decolonisation is created by
United Nations’ General Assembly (resolution No 1654), to monitor
and report on the progress of all “ trust and non self-governing
territories” and their movement towards independence.
Resolution 2066 (XV) is passed : “Noting with deep
concern that any step taken by the administrative power to detach
certain islands from the territory of Mauritius for the purpose of
establishing a military base would be in contravention of the
Declaration and in particular paragraph 6 thereof ...Invites the
administrating power to take no action which would dismember the
territory of Mauritius and violate the territorial integrity ...”
Chagossians visiting relatives and friends in Mauritius,
are not allowed to return to the Chagos. They are informed that “The
Islands are closed”. This, and other tactics, continue until
In the run up to full independence, a Mauritius
Constitutional Conference is held at Lancaster House, London.
Mauritius delegation is comprised of representatives from the
Mauritius Labour Party (PT), the Parti Mauricien Social Democrate
(PMSD), the Independent Forward Block (IFB), the Muslim Committee of
Action (CAM), and two Independent Legislative Assembly’s
BIOT Order in Council of the Court of Buckingham
Palace to dismember the territory of Mauritius and violate its
territorial integrity. Date of the actual legal implement of the
“stealing” of the Islands.
First public announcement in regard of excision was made
in the House of Commons in the United Kingdom.
£ 3 million paid by the British Government to Mauritian
Government for supposed “sale of Chagos Islands”
Following the Constitutional Conference, the Chagos
Archipelago is detached from Mauritius and, along with three islands
from the British colony of Seychelles, they are made into the new
Colony of British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT).
United Kingdom signs a Defence Treaty leasing to
the United States of America, the so-called BIOT for defense
purposes. This turns US into a “receiver of stolen goods”.
Forcible evictions of Chagossians from now onwards, by
the British and US authorities.
Diego Garcia Islanders given two months to pack up and
leave forever. Most are placed on the other Chagos Islands of Peros
Banos and Salomon.
The Colony of Mauritius which had comprised, inter alia,
the Chagos Archipelago is granted independence but without
Non-Aligned Summit Resolution adopts to make the Indian
Ocean a Zone of Peace.
The British Indian Ocean Territory Immigration (BIOT)
Ordinance exiles all the people of Chagos.
United Nations General Assembly adopts Indian Ocean Peace
Zone Resolution 2832.
1972 Agreement is signed between United Kingdom and the United
States of America supposedly establishing no more than a
“communication facility” on Diego Garcia.
Compensation is paid by Britain (supposed to have been
final)-£650,000 for resettlement.
United Nations Ad-Hoc Committee is set up so as to
implement the Indian Ocean Zone of Peace resolution.
Throughout 1973 forced evictions continue.
Christian Simon, in despair, commits suicide on the boat
Nordvaer is the ship bringing the last Chagossians. They
hold a sit-in on the ship and refuse to disembark.
Housing estate houses and dockers flats made available to
some families because of demonstration onboard of Nordvaer.
George Champion sets up “1966 Society for Diego Garcia”
in UK to support Chagossians.
Seychelles gains an important victory when Aldabra,
Desroches and Farquhar Islands are returned to the Seychelles. The
US cancels its 60-year lease agreement with the UK.
Chagossian, Michel Vencatessen puts court action against
British Government. He is assisted by his lawyer, Bernard
Organisation Fraternelle supports Chagossians, sets up
Comité Ilois OF.
At Bain Des Dames in Port-Louis 6 women go on hungerstrike,
including Marie Lisette Talate, Charlesia Alexis and Louise
Latouche. Supporters who stayed overnight include Ragini Kistnasamy,
Lindsey Collen, Marie France Favory, Rajni Lallah, Serge Rayapoullé,
Lindsay Aza. Ram Seegobin assisted as medical practitioner.
Demonstration in the streets of Port-Louis, organised by
the MMM and others, over Diego Garcia and Tromelin.
A “Comité” asks Sheridan (Mr. Vencatassen’s lawyer) to
negotiate more compensation. British Government offers £ 1.5 m on
the express condition that (i) Vencatassen withdraw his case (ii)
sign a “full and final” and “never to return” document.
Visit of sailors (Mauritians and Mauritians of Chagossian
origin) to Chagos.
Lalit de Klas distributes leaflets to US marines
in Port-Louis harbour, calling for the closing of the Diego Garcia
Organisation for African Unity passes resolution calling
for the unconditional return of Diego Garcia to Mauritius, as its
continued occupation represents a permanent threat to Africa as a
Zone of Peace.
Supplement: “Diego Lamor” in Lalit de Klas
Francoise Botte publishes her research on “The Ilois
Community and Ilois Women”.
A unanimous resolution is taken at the Heads of State OAU
Conference at Freetown, Sierra Leone, 1-4th July 1980, to demand
dismantling of the Diego Garcia base, and the retrocession of Chagos
Chagossian women’s hungerstrike at Company Gardens. 3
days street demonstration by 200 women including MLF and
Lalit women. Arrest of 8 women and detention in Line Barracks
for three days.
Trial of 8 women arrested at the demonstration under the
POA (Public Order Act).
Front National de Soutien aux Ilois set up.
Publication of Hervé Silva’s Report on the “Survey on the
Conditions of Living of the Ilois Community Displaced from the
Delegation of Chagossians goes to London for
negotiations, as a direct result of street demonstrations and
Lagazet Lalit de Klas publishes proof of nuclear
materials being transshipped at Diego Garcia.
Select Committee of Parliament set up by a Standing
Order, with terms of reference to look into the circumstances which
led to and followed the excision of the Chagos Archipelago including
Diego Garcia, from Mauritius in 1965 and at the exact nature of the
transactions that took place.
As a result of the popular mobilization, street
demonstrations, arrests and trials of women demonstrators, and after
the 1981 negotiations, UK pays Rs75,880,000 compensation to the
Chagossians. Ilois Trust Fund is set up.
Report of the Select Committee on the Excision of the
Chagos Archipelago is published.
The 7th Conference of the Non-Aligned Movement, when it
meets in Delhi, votes a resolution for the dismantling of the base
and for the retrocession of Diego Garcia and Chagos to
The US, UK and France pull out of the Indian Ocean Zone
of Peace Ad-Hoc Committee to prevent the Colombo Conference of 1990
from going ahead.
Hungerstrike of the Organisation Fraternelle is held at
Pointe aux Sables.
The Mauritian State tables an official motion to put
Diego Garcia and the Chagos Archipelago on to the United Nations
General Assembly agenda. Some weeks later , it withdraws this
US uses Diego Garcia base to bombard civilians in
Mauritian new Republican Constitution names Chagos
including Diego Garcia as part
Agreement is signed between Britain and Mauritius on
Fishing. This is the first official agreement in which the Mauritian
State accepts the existence of a military base on its territory.
Publication of novel The Rape of Sita by Lindsey
Collen, with fictionalised accounts of Chagos struggles.
The UN Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Committee
draws attention to the fact that self determination has not been
implemented in the case of Mauritius because of illegal occupation
of Chagos in its Concluding Observations, when Mauritius country
report is being reviewed.
Pelindaba Treaty for a Nuclear-Arms-Free Africa is drawn
up and signed. The Mauritian State accepts that dotted lines be put
around Diego Garcia in the Treaty map.
Lalit “Open Letter to Tony Blair”.
From here onwards, Official Secrets Act in UK 30-year
secrecy rule expires. Documents now public.
“Diego Files” series by Henri Marimootoo published in
Week End newspaper.
Rann Nu Diego Committee is set up by Lalit and
Grup Refizye Chagos. Some 12 organizations members. Negotiations
with Greenpeace to visit Diego Garcia by boat.
Ferdinand Mandarin and his legal advisor, Hervé
Lasemillante, present case for Chagossians as “autochtone” at United
Nations Committee in Geneva.
Lalit runs international campaigns for electors in
their countries to put pressure on US President Clinton and UK Prime
Minister Blair to close the US base, compensate Chagossians, and
make way for re-uniting Mauritius.
Victory in Bancoult v Queen case,
granting Chagossians the right to return, and exposing the State
conspiracy of the 1960’s. Historically important judgment.
African Growth and Opportunity Act is passed.
Ram Seegobin, Lalit member, exposes link between
AGOA and Diego Garcia at international workers’ meetings in San
Francisco and Los Angeles.
Publication of novel Mutiny by Lindsey Collen,
with account of fictional Chagossian woman’s life.
US bombs Afghan civilians from its base on Diego
United Nations General Assembly adopts new Resolution on
Indian Ocean Zone of Peace.
Lalit circulates open letter to citizens of UK and
Lalit runs poster campaign: “SSR ti vann Diego ar
UK, Bérenger ek Jugnauth pe vann Diego ar US”.
Anti-War Lalit forum at Port Louis Theatre. Base
closure called for.
Mauritian government for the first time officially
receives an official of the BIOT.
Lecture on Diego Garcia by Lindsey Collen at History
Conference in Liverpool, UK.
Chagos Refugees Group and their legal advisor, Robin
Mardaymootoo, sue the British state for damages and reparations. (As
we go to press)
Chagos Refugees Group and their legal advisor, Robin
Mardaymootoo sue the US State, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and US
corporations for damages, for torture and genocide. (Still in courts
as we go to press)
Sahringon holds Strategy Workshop in Mauritius.
Organizations and individuals present vote a resolution for US Base
Closure, for reunification of Mauritius, for reparations and
resettlement, for an ecological assessment, and for the Mauritian
Government to create a 22nd Constituency for Chagos, and to present
a bold resolution at the UN. The resolution is now being circulated
for Africa-wide endorsement. (As we go to press).
US uses African Growth and Opportunity Act (Trade
Law) to silence Mauritian State.
US Armed Forces prepare Diego Garcia for war against
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