Chagos Islands

Statement from Ninth Wave Global and Ninth Wave England on UK Government Decision to Reject Chagossian Resettlement

On November 16th 2016 the UK Government once again denied the Chagossian community the right to return to the islands they were forcibly ejected from in the 1960s to make way for a US military base. As an organisation, Ninth Wave Global in association with Ninth Wave England does not accept the moral or legal right of the UK Government in this matter and will be working tirelessly alongside the Chagossian community to redress the situation and keep it in the public eye, where it belongs.

Harriet Wood, Ninth Wave Chagos Islands #RightToReturn spokesperson, states: ’The forced ejection of the Chagossians from their homeland is one of the most shameful episodes in modern British history. The Chagossian people's right to return is a non-negotiable residue of the darkest days of empire, which must be made right.’

The recent written statement by Sir Alan Duncan MP on the Government’s decision to deny the Chagossian right to return contains contradictions and hypocrisy which cannot be ignored: once again the Government reiterate their admission of wrongdoing and ‘deep regret’ for ‘the manner in which the Chagossian community was removed from the territory in the 1960s and 70s, and the way they were treated’ while simultaneously concluding that ‘the Government has decided against resettlement of the Chagossian people to the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT) on the grounds of feasibility, defence and security interests, and cost to the British taxpayer’. In addition to this contradiction, questions have been raised by David Snoxell (co-ordinator of the Chagos Islands all-party parliamentary group) about the credibility of independent reports ordered by the Government on the matter. In 2002, emails released under freedom of information rules showed that senior officials in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office appear to have attempted to influence the outcome of such a report on the Chagos islands, suggesting ‘in strictest confidence’ that conclusions be ‘scrapped’.

A stark contrast is also clearly visible between the decision on the Chagos Islands and the situation in the Falkland Islands and Gibraltar, where the Government has supported local islanders’ right to self-determination. In addition to this, important questions have been raised by Maureen Tong about the Government’s potential contradiction of the 2007 UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the possibility of debating the Chagossians’ exclusion from categorisation as an indigenous people under colonial rule or foreign domination. Along with the Mauritian challenge to the UK’s sovereignty claim, these unsolved matters only serve to further indicate that the matter of Chagossian return should be far from closed.

As of January 2017 the Chagossians’ #RightToReturn will become Ninth Wave Global and Ninth Wave England’s flagship campaign.

For further information on the campaign please contact:

Harriet Wood

For press images or to speak to the expeditionaries, contact Chris Bruno: