Chagos Islanders demonstrate for their rights

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‘Free us from private landlords’ shouted Chagos Islanders outside Crawley Town Hall yesterday
‘Free us from private landlords’ shouted Chagos Islanders outside Crawley Town Hall yesterday

Motorists honked their horns in support of the Chagossian islanders who marched through the pouring rain to Crawley Town Hall yesterday, to demonstrate against the Blair government and the local council.

The islanders chanted: ‘Give us back our island!’ ‘Forty years of exile – Give us back our security! – Diego Garcia!’ and ‘Free us from private landlords – Give us council housing!’

The islanders’ powerful demonstration also won support from local students from Central Sussex College who declared the islanders must be allowed to return home.

The demonstration caused such a stir that Marc Dow from the council’s homeless department, and Mark Robinson from the council’s press office, were forced to come out of the Town Hall building and make a statement to a film team from the Korean Broadcasting Service.

Dow said: ‘They have to go on the waiting list just like everybody else. They will get the same support as everybody else.

‘We are only a local council, their dispute is with central government.’

Dow agreed to meet Hengride Permal, Chair of the Chagos Island Community Association, to discuss the Islanders’ situation.

J M Kim, chief correspondent at Korean Broadcasting Service’s London bureau, told News Line: ‘All people should have human rights – the right to their home and culture are basic rights of mankind.

‘As many people as possible should know about their situation.

‘Many Koreans work to uphold human rights.

‘These are the biggest countries in the world trying to control the whole world. The islanders’ situation represents how they rule the world.’