The Chagos Islanders Must Be Returned To Their Homes


YESTERDAY the Court of Appeal ruled that the Blair government had carried out an Abuse of Power when it overruled the assurance given by foreign secretary Robin Cook in November 2000. This was that he would not appeal against the decision of the High Court to allow the Chagos Islanders the right to return to their homeland.

Blair reversed his decision, and the resettlement procedures that Cook had initiated for the islanders.

The Court of Appeal has now dismissed the Blair government appeal against the cancellation by the High Court of two laws that had been imposed on the islanders, but had not been agreed by the Houses of Parliament.

These laws were brought in by utilising a feudal procedure. They were agreed by a secret order in council, and given their legality by the signature of Queen Elizabeth II.

They abolished the right of abode of the Chagossian people in their homeland, and placed them into exile for all time. All for the benefit of US imperialism.

The role of the Blair government was a continuation of the role of the Labour government of Harold Wilson. In 1966 it signed the 50 year lease of the Chagos Islands to the US government, so that it could build the biggest US military base outside the US.

Part of the deal was that the population would be driven off of the islands. This was done with islanders’ homes demolished and their animals killed.

The US base was then built and has been used since then to bomb the African, Arab and Islamic peoples.

US imperialism wants to maintain its base in Diego Garcia, and certainly does not want its secret operations observed by the Chagos Islanders after getting their right to return.

We can take for granted that the Blair-Brown government will fight to its last breath to maintain the base for US imperialism under the terms and conditions required by the US.

The prospect is that the Labour government may now appeal to the House of Lords in order to delay the removal of the US base for up to five more years, imposing even more hardship on the exiled islanders.

The time has come when the trade unions in Britain must step forward and declare their support for the right of the Chagos islanders to return home at once, and their willingness to take action to achieve it.

This year’s annual conference of the PCS trade union welcomed the Chagos islanders with open arms and passed a motion unanimously, to go forward to the TUC general council, demanding that the islanders must be allowed to return to their homes.

This summer every trade union conference must adopt a similar resolution. The trade unions cannot tolerate a situation where a Labour government exiles an entire people through illegal actions, all to provide the US imperialists with a base from which to bomb the Middle East and Asia.

The TUC Congress must call a national demonstration in support of the islanders.

The Brown government must be told to show its opposition to the Blair government’s Abuse of Power and some independence of the US by closing down the base at Diego Garcia and allowing the islanders back to their homes.

If Labour launches another appeal, this time to the House of Lords, the trade unions and the TUC must organise a campaign of demonstrations and political strikes to demand that the government accepts the decision of the High Court, adequately compensates the Chagos Islanders for their sufferings, returns them to their homeland and shuts down the Diego Garcia base.

This must become a principle for the trade union movement, and industrial and political action must be stepped up until that principle has triumphed.