13 Jan 2010

Chargossian people: another call for justice

The Foreign Secretary is conducting a consultation about the proposed Marine Protected Area in the Chagos Archipelago. There is still to comment on this web page: www.facebook.com/l/63b60;blogs.fco.gov.uk/roller/miliband/entry/marine_protection

I have covered before the disgraceful treatement of the Chargossian people - see here - and here for recent legal battle - please don't let David Milliband get away with presenting himself as a champion of the environment while ignoring the injustice inflicted on the people who used to live in the Chagos Islands. It is great that a Marine Protection area is being planned but it is vital that justice is finally found for the islanders. Here's the comment I have tried to leave:

The Chagos islanders have been thwarted for 40 years in their hopes to return to their homeland. While their struggle was recently dismissed on legal grounds, the political possibilities remain open for a return to become possible. You will know a recent study found that a small number of islanders want to return to the archipelago permanently. The study, written by John Howell, a former director of the Overseas Development Institute, suggested there were no physical, economic or environmental reasons to prevent resettlement on the islands of Peros Banhos and Salomon. Howell suggested about 150 families - fewer than 1,000 people and about a quarter of those entitled to go back - would want to return. Eco-tourism and fish exports could provide jobs and income. The total cost to the UK of resettlement would be about £25m. This excellent Marine Protection plan must ensure an opportunity for those families to help implement and secure the Marine Protected Area:: however serious consideration is needed regarding a complete fishing ban as this would make resettlement very difficult.


Peter Harris said...

Dear Philip - this is an excellent post that rightly draws attention to the Chagossian peoples' campaign to return home.

Marine protection in Chagos is very important, but should not be done at the expense of the indigenous people of the islands. Unfortunately, the Chagos Environment Network is currently organising a petition to ask the FCO to impose a complete no-take fishing ban in the region. This would be disastrous for the Chagossians' plans for a resettlement. In particular, we need to oppose the imposition of a complete no-take fishing ban.

Perhaps you will be interested in following the UK Chagos Support Association blog - we will soon be launching a new website to keep people up-to-date with the Chagossians' campaigns.

Did you respond to the FCO's consultation process as well as commenting on the blog? If not, I strongly urge you to do so!

Philip Booth said...

Thanks for comment - yes have made submission and noted that I consider that there should be limited fishing rights for Chargossian people. Yes would be interested in blog - happy to add link on this site.

For others the consultation is open to 12th February - it is a little hidden on the website - here is the link - you can download paper and email comments:

Anonymous said...

AVAAZ writes:
Save the oceans a huge win! The UK announced its plan to double the total global area of protected ocean with a massive new conservation zone bigger than Germany and Italy combined. In the public comment period before the decision, Avaaz members contributed more than 85% of the responses, urging a ban on commercial fishing and support for the island peoples' rights.1 It's a huge victory, and the Foreign Ministry cited the "over 221,000 responses co-ordinated by Avaaz... from 223 countries" in its announcement.

Philip Booth said...

Yes but see issue re Chargosians on their news page today:

"Members of both Houses of Parliament today attacked the Government’s decision to press ahead unilaterally with implementing a no-take marine protected area (MPA) in the Chagos islands, arguing that the FCO had acted in total disregard of the Chagos islanders’ campaign for justice and contrary to promises made to MPs."

I was also pleased to see that our MP David Drew has spoken up on this issue - he called it “colonialism gone mad” that the Government seemed to be presuming that the Chagossians wanted to “destroy their own environment.”