Chagos Islanders occupy Trafalgar Square

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Exiled Chagos Islanders began a five-day sit-in at Trafalgar Square yesterday morning, demanding the right to return to their homeland
Exiled Chagos Islanders began a five-day sit-in at Trafalgar Square yesterday morning, demanding the right to return to their homeland

OVER 50 exiled Chagossians living in the UK camped out in Trafalgar Square yesterday, the first day of a five-day occupation.

‘Help us to go back and live in our homeland,’ says the Chagos Islanders Movement, who organised the sit-in. Their leaflet said: ‘Our people may become extinct in a few years’ time as we have been banished from our homeland for about fifty years, to make way for a US Military base on our main island of Diego Garcia.’

Chagos Islanders Movement chairman Isabelle Charlot told News Line in Trafalgar Square yesterday: ‘The square officials told us we have to leave. But we are staying.’ Jean Paul France added: ‘We’re taking over the square – they took over our country, so we’re taking over the square.

‘They tell us we’re not allowed to be here, but they took 65 islands from us, so we’re staying. We are getting separated from our families. We want to be reunited. They took our country to go to war – they said they are protecting the world. But they are not looking after the people who own the island. We demand our right to return. The British government gave us false hope. They promised us a £40m package but we never saw any of it.’

Margaret, 16, said: ‘We were excluded from our island. They sent us to Mauritius. Some of us received a British passport but their children are not allowed to come to England. The mum is here and all the children and husband are in Mauritius. It’s heartbreaking. We are here today to get an answer for the husband and children to come to England, to get the passport and to have a future. People should be allowed to have their island.’

Whitney Tranquille, 16, added: ‘It’s good to raise awareness about what the British government did to my ancestors. It’s given the British government a taste of their own medicine in a small way by taking over Trafalgar Square. It’s not as bad as taking over a whole country but it gives them a sense of how my family feel.’

Naomi Fabre, 20, said: ‘My grandmother told me when she was 19 she was given papers to leave Diego Garcia and go to Mauritius. When she went there, all the papers were destroyed by the government of Mauritius. She didn’t have any money and had to work in people’s houses to feed her kids.’