Friday, 20 March 2015
Thursday, 12 March 2015
in Business Questions today @JeremyCorbyn raised the question to@ William Hague
He implied that no decision was likely:
Jeremy: Last week I raised with the Leader of the house the question of a statement by the government on the future of the Chagos Islands in respect of the Feasibility of Return report that’s been done.
He’ll be pleased that tomorrow I am attending a meeting at the Foreign Office with Mr Olivier Bancoult, the leader of the Chagos Refugee Association.
Will he please ensure that between now and the dissolution of this parliament the government does make a statement on what its policy is on the right of return to allow the historical wrong of the expulsion of the islanders from those islands to finally be put right as was promised by his government at the start of this parliament, a decision to be made in this parliament. There is a week to go.
William Hague: Well, the hon member is a longstanding champion of this cause and very assiduous at pursuing it
As he knows and we’ve discussed this before, there’s been a very extensive report, a report I initiated when I was Foreign Secretary, a major report on the feasibility or otherwise of habitation of the Chagos Island, or parts of the island that is being considered very seriously by the government and I don’t think I can guarantee to the Honourable Gentlemen there’ll be a statement on that before the dissolution of parliament given that we’ve almost arrived at the Dissolution, I can tell him that the government is giving, at the highest level, detailed consideration to that report but when a decision will be made, I do not know.
Thursday, 12 February 2015
The Chagossian community have been in forced exile from our own land for almost fifty years. We have been living in poverty and struggling for our return for all this time. We are ready to resettle to the islands.
How much money has the UK government spent in other countries defending the rights of other British citizens? And where has the money for fishing licences gone and the money from the US government for the lease of Diego Garcia?
Presenting the costs of resettlement without the context of our removal from the islands and treatment at the hands of the British government is dishonest.The resettlement process flows from the recognition of the right of return – a fundamental Human Right – of the Chagossian people to their homeland.The requirements and costs (economic opportunities, infrastructure development, support services) are, on balance, a small price to pay for repairing the immeasurable wrong done and therefore have to be borne. The Chagos resettlement project, based on Human rights promotion and sustainable development combined with environment (sea, land, air) protection, subscribes to the principles and ideals that we all want the world to abide by, in particular the two world powers directly concerned: UK and USA . First and foremost, UK for historical reasons, which explains why the responsibility and cost of establishing and maintaining the resettlement lie with the UK Government.It is our right to return to our homeland. So, Let us return!Sabrina Jean
CHAIR OF CRGUKTWITTER@ UKCRGWebsite : Chagosrefugeesgroup.org
Henry Smith (Crawley, Conservative) "To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, what contingency plans her Department is making regarding the potential resettlement of the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT) following the Government's feasibility study for the resettlement of BIOT."
Desmond Swayne (The Minister of State, Department for International Development; New Forest West, Conservative) "The KPMG independent Feasibility Study on resettlement of BIOT has concluded and will be published by the Government shortly. A Policy Review, led by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, will now be undertaken, carefully considering the study’s factual findings and all available options regarding the future of the British Indian Ocean Territory."
Friday, 30 January 2015
Saturday, 24 January 2015
In over forty years of exile, the people of the Chagos Islands have yet to see justice. Now, the hopes of the Chagossians are pinned to a study commissioned by the U.K. government—a study the Chagossians hope will be the answer they need to take them home.
The Chagossians are the indigenous people of the Chagos Islands or British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT) – a chain of over 50 islands in the Indian Ocean. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the Chagossians were forcibly removed from their homeland by the U.K. and U.S. governments and dropped on the shores of the Seychelles and Mauritius with no money or support. A U.S. military base was established on the island of Diego Garcia and is today one of the most strategically important U.S. military bases in the world.
The draft feasibility study focuses largely on the financial cost and environmental impacts of resettlement. Three options were considered: large-scale resettlement of approximately 1,500 Chagossians at about £413.9 million (roughly $625.9 million) over six years, resettlement of around 500 people at £106.9 million (roughly $161.4 million) over four years and resettlement of 150 people at £62.9 million (roughly $95.1 million) over three years.
While the costs that would be incurred through resettlement are explained in great detail, the ways in which the costs can be offset are mentioned only in passing. Below are three important ways that the costs of resettlement could be managed in order to allow Chagossians to return home and achieve at least some semblance of justice.
The Chagos Islands are part of what is currently the largest no-take marine protected area in the world so a high-end eco-tourism industry could be very lucrative for the Chagossians. The island country of Palau derives a majority of its annual GDP from the tourism and eco-tourism industry at millions per year. The Chagos Islands could be set up as prime destinations for those interested in exploring islands with little human influence. This could generate a strong source of income for the Chagossians and offer many areas for employment.
One of the largest potential “cash crops” for the Chagossians is the .io domain name that is associated with the Indian Ocean territory and which has become popular with tech companies. The domain name of .tv brings millions of dollars per year to the people of Tuvalu. Likewise, profits from .me benefit the people of Montenegro. Currently, the .io profits are going to the U.K. government but if the Chagossians were able to return, the profits would go to them – potentially providing millions of dollars to support resettlement.
Possibly the single most important thing to consider when looking at the potential costs for resettlement of the Chagossian people to their homelands is the reparations due to them for their decades of undue suffering. This should be central to the conversation on how to pay for and sustain a resettlement of the islands.
A study conducted by anthropologist and American University professor, David Vine, Rutgers University Professor of Law and Economics, Philip Harvey, and Senior Research Associate at Johns Hopkins University, S. Wojciech Sokolowski found that damages owed to the Chagossian people fall between $5.4 billion and $13.2 billion from 1970-2008.
The highest cost estimate of the feasibility study found that large-scale resettlement of around 1,500 people would cost approximately $625.9 million over six years. For the roughly 5,000 Chagossians living today – a people who were exiled from their homes in a brutal campaign, who lost their land, their income, the connection to their ancestors buried on the islands, and their cultural heritage, and who have suffered for decades in exile, often in extreme poverty – $625.9 million seems a small price to pay for justice.
As negotiations between the U.K. and the U.S. governments regarding the U.S. military base begin, it is imperative that U.S. officials work a resettlement option into the agreement. The U.S. government has yet to take any responsibility or provide compensation for the injustice done to the islanders. While the violence committed against the Chagossians cannot be undone, the U.S. government can take steps toward mitigation of those crimes. This includes full resettlement of all of the Chagossian people who wish to return. This also includes substantial reparations through resettlement assistance and continued aid as the islanders rebuild their communities.
Rohricht is a graduate student in the Ethics, Peace, and Global Affairs program in the School of International Service at American University.