31 October, 2007


Chagos Islands

An email received today from Iain Orr of “BioDiplomacy” moved me to go online and do something I have only done once before: sign a petition. The email read:

This email goes as blind copies to friends in the UK Overseas Territories, seeking support for exiled islanders from another territory - British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT). The Chagossians' search for justice will be delayed if the FCO decides by 6 November to go ahead with a fourth attempt in the courts to deny them their right of return. There are thee ways you can help:

FIRST - Sign the petition on the number 10 website at http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/chagosappeal/

That has a drop-down menu so that you can show where you are from. Names are not linked to territories on the petition, but those reporting to the Prime Minister and the FCO will be able to say if there is support from other territories, as well as from the UK. You have to be a British citizen to sign. I'd say that support from the UKOTs will count more than double (and other overseas territories might need support when you find HMG being a bully rather than a partner).

SECOND - forward this to friends and email groups in your and other territories - and in the UK,- giving them the opportunity to sign the petition.

THIRD - urge your local media to give publicity to a letter from a group of UK MPs, MEPs and members of the House of Lords which should appear in a UK daily paper on 2 November. Once published, the final text will be on the website of the UK Chagos Support Association (www.chagossupport.org.uk - which also has a great deal of background on the way the UK government has treated the Chagossians). The draft text is at the bottom of the enclosed document which shows that the Prime Minister's fine words in his recent speech "On Liberty" ring hollow when compared with the treatment over the years of the Chagossians. Local publicity might be linked to the current enquiry by the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee (FAC) into the FCO and the overseas territories.

Chagossians deserve support. To see their faces, go to an excellent site for photos of the exiled Chagossian community in Mauritius by the photographer Phuc Quach at: http://www.phucquach.co.uk

Thank you


IAIN ORR, BioDiplomacy, 12 Otto Close, London SE26 4NA

It is very easy. Just follow his simple instructions above. If you don’t know what happened to the Chagos Islands, then shame on you. Don’t worry to do anything further!


  1. Thank you for posting this important development.

  2. The first UKOT signatory of the No 10 website Chagos petition was an Ascension Saint, Lawson Henry; the second was Don.

    It would be good to have many more. The sooner we get to 200 signatories the more chance we have of making No 10 and the FCO pay attention.

  3. As retiring secretary of the UK Chagos Support Association, I would like to thank you for your support - it is invaluable and we are most grateful.

    Celia Whittaker.

  4. I tried to sign the petition yesterday and was told I would receive an email message with which I needed to confirm my existence. I exist but it never reach. I repeated my effort this morning and the email came within a minute or two. If others have this same problem, please try again.

    Thank you.

  5. The following message has been received from Olivier Bancoult, the leader of the Chagossian exiles in Mauritius. Please excuse Mr. Bancoult's English, which is far better than my French.

    Dear Friends,

    Just to inform you that, as yesterday 2nd November was a deceased day celebration. We were about one hundred Chagossians gathering near the British High Commission to commemorate this day. As on that day most people were on their parents’ graves. We, Chagossians were very sad for not having access on our beloved parents’ graves in Chagos. Therefore, we decided to put all our flowers in front the British High Commissioner Office in Port Louis, there, a moment of prayer had been made to pay tribute to our beloved.

    After the ceremony, I have received a phone call from the British High Commissioner Dr. John Murton asking me if I can come to meet him at his office. I was surprised when I arrive there to see one of the US Officer who was on a visit to Mauritius. There, the High Commissioner asked me that the US Officer had accepted to bring some of our flowers we left near the B.H.C with him in Diego Garcia to put in our cemetery, while he is traveling on the evening via Singapore to Diego Garcia. We all chose some flowers that had being put into a suitcase to bring with him. We agreed and even that we asked the British High Commissioner that our wish remain to be able to do it ourselves in our birthplace.

    Maybe it’s a beginning of their attitude towards our people. Hope so!

    Best Regards,
    Olivier Bancoult, OSK.
    Chagos Refugee Group
    Port Louis, Mauritius

  6. Any Anguillian who has not yet gone on to the No 10 Downing Street website and signed the Petition, please do so now by following the simple instructions after you click here. The petition is only open for a few more days.


  7. We are sorry to say that the government has now decided to go ahead with their appeal to the House of Lords.

  8. With very little excavation of the mind, the opinion that the UK government has absolutely no shame is easy to uncover!


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