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The News Line: Editorial Chagossians must have the right to return – the US base on Diego Garcia must be closed! A BIG delegation of the 2,000 Chagossians who are living in Crawley, plus delegations from the FBU, GMB and POA trade unions will be picketing the House of Lords this morning from 9.30am.

They will be urging the Law Lords to throw out the Brown government’s appeal against three previous legal verdicts that the Chagossian people have, at least, the right to return to the outer islands of the Chagos group, in the Indian Ocean.

The Chagos Islands were ruthlessly ‘cleansed’ by the Wilson and Heath governments of their inhabitants, men, women and children, from 1966 to 1972, so that the islands could be handed over to the United States to build a huge naval air base from which Somalia, Iraq and Afghanistan have been bombed.

To encourage the inhabitants to quit the islands, their pets and their domestic animals were killed before their eyes, and it was intimated to them, in the best British colonial style, that unless they quit the islands they could meet the same fate.

They were transported to Mauritius and deposited in the worst of its slums, without hope, and without employment. Many died from ‘sadness’.

Subsequently, some of the evicted Chagossians have come to Britain, but in the most distressing circumstances, where families are split up, since those who married non-Chagossians, could not bring their non-British partners with them.

Once in the UK, they have had to fight for access to council housing, to the JobSeekers allowance and to the old age pension. They picketed Crawley Council’s office for months throughout the winter of 2005-2006, for 24 hours a day, to demand access to council housing and the JobSeekers Allowance.

Britain has not proved to be a paradise for them and they are determined that they are going to return home, and defeat the Labour and Tory ethnic cleansers.

However, they have been welcomed by the working class and have the support of a growing number of trade unions.

They are determined to win the support of all of the working class organisations in the UK to right the historic wrong that was done to them and which was initiated by the Wilson Labour government.

They are urging the Law Lords to throw out the appeal of the Brown government which is fighting a desperate battle to keep the Chagos Islands as a US nuclear base and a centre for illegally holding people kidnapped by the US authorities as ‘terrorist suspects’.

They are confident that they will win and that the appeal will be defeated.

They will then be seeking to organise the return to the outer islands of all those who were evicted from there with the UK and US governments bearing the cost.

This, however, will be a partial victory.

The islanders are convinced that, since their eviction from the islands and the construction of the massive US base was illegal and done despite the opposition of the UN, they have the right to return to all of the islands.

They will therefore be considering the organising of a massive international campaign for their right to return to all of the Chagos islands and for the US base to be closed, as a contribution to peace in the Gulf, the Middle East and the Indian Ocean area.

The News Line and the WRP give their full support to the brave and heroic struggle of the Chagossian people for the right to return to all of their island homes.

We urge all TUC trade unions to give them the maximum support.

They must have the right to return to all of the islands. This return must be financed by the UK and US governments. The US base must be closed, and the US and UK regimes must pay them full compensation for 40 years of suffering.
 
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