Mr Ban ki Moon: Why have you forgotton the Chagossian Islanders?
Posted on May 23rd, 2011

By Garvin Karunaratne, Ph.D.

Mr. Ban Ki Moon,  Please answer me. What about the Human Rights of the Chagossian Islanders?

The Chagossian Islanders were the original inhabitants of the Chagos islands in the Indian Ocean. They  were thrown  out of the Chagossian Islands  when Britain decided to have an uninhabited island to hand over to the USA  to have a military base.

Let me jog the  memory of the United Nations, because the United Nations becomes  forgetful of facts when it suits the Superpowers to aggrandize themselves and takeover a poor Third World territory, in order to establish a military base. In short, the United Nations that should stand up for all the countries in the World irrespective of size or power, gives in to the pressure of a Superpower and it sacrifices the sovereignty of the poor country!

The Chagossian Islanders lived a peaceful life, in their own habitat till the USA wanted a sea base in the Indian Ocean. Britain then decided to give the Chagossian Islands including Diego Garcia to the USA. Britain then moved 2000 Chagossians by force from 1967 to 1973 first to Peros Banhos, a hundred miles away and later to Mauritius. By a Court Judgement, Justice Ousley of the High Court denied the right of the Islanders to return to the Chagos islands.. This was overturned by the High Court on May 11, 2006 and the islanders were authorized to return to the islands. At last it looked as if the islanders won to get beck to their homes. But the British Government  appealed to the House of Lords against that decision and the Court of Appeal on October 22, 2008 and the Law Lords ruled that the islanders had no right to return.

Let me quote the accepted British Journal, The New Statesman:

“ƒ”¹…”No sooner do the Chagossian islanders achieve victory in one legal case, than the Government (of Britain) appeals and the heavy legal machinery once again clunks into gear. And this time the reason as the Foreign and Commonwealth office spokespersons are very keen to explain to anyone prepared to listen, is that there is an urgent need to defend the defence status of all British overseas territories including Bermuda, Gibraltar and Cayman Islands.

The  Court of Appeal Judgement in May this year ruled that the British Government had abused its power in evicting the Chagossians from their paradise islands.”(New Statesman 20/11/2007) The United States of America yet rules the waves of the Indian Ocean with its base at Diego Garcia, equipped now with the 30,000 lbs bunker buster bombs loaded onto B2 bombers, while the Chagossians- 2000 of them are lingering in far off countries as refugees- now in their second generation. This is the Human Rights Record of Great Britain and while all this did happen the United Nations did not move one finger to help them. Please read the New Stateman: “ƒ”¹…”A resolution to the long running British injustice to the Chagos islanders could have signaled a switch in UK Foreign Policy’.20/11/2007.

Let us compare how the Giant United Nations that was sleeping all this while sharply  woke up when the Superpowers the USA and Britain, partly bought over by the voting strength of the Tamil Diaspora  and partly due to the influence of the dollars the Diaspora spends to get almightly Congressmen and even important  officialdom of the USA to support their cause against a sovereign country SriLanka.

The United Nations woke up to appoint a Panel outside of the United Nations to advise the Secretary General. It was an irregular act to appoint anyone outside of UN officialdom to advise the Secretary General but you had your own highhanded manner to decide.

Why did you ignore Charter 100.1 which specifically states that ” In the performance of their duties  the Secretary General and the staff shall not seek or receive instructions from any Government or from any other authority external to the organization.” Thus the appointment of the Panel from among outsiders of the UN was illegal.

Why did you get concerned with a domestic dispute of a sovereign country. Sri Lanka in recent times has had three rebellions, in 1971 when the JVP ruled major areas of Sri lanka for close upon a month, in 1987 when the JVP ran amok for over two years and finally in 1990 to 2009 when the LTTE encroached on land in the North and the East. Why did you ignore Article 2.7 of the UN Charter which states ” Nothing contained in the present Charter shall authorize the United nations to intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state..”

Why did you not get the approval of the Security Council of the United Nations before appointing the Panel?

It is quite clear that the USA was getting you to act as a cat’s paw for what they would not like to do direct.

Is it not sad to realize that the First Citizen of the World- the Secretary General of the United Nations is guilty of double standards.

Garvin Karunaratne, Ph.D.(Michigan State University) May 18, 2011

3 Responses to “Mr Ban ki Moon: Why have you forgotton the Chagossian Islanders?”

  1. gdesilva Says:

    Highly recommend watching ‘Stealing a Nation’ DVD by John Pilger which is a great documentary about the plight of the Chagossian Islanders and how the US and UK connived together to achieve what they wanted. Nothing short of broad daylight highway robbery by the Big Boys. The sad thing, however, is these criminals are even more free to do whatever they please, now with the blessings of the UNSG. In the case of Chagossian Islanders it was a relatively small scale operation compared to what they are now doing in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Libya and of course, Sri Lanka.

  2. spartacus Says:

    I’m not entirely sure when but I think the case is soon in front of The European Court. Then it should be more difficult for the British (and US) authorities to corrupt fair procedings, since the same conflicts of interest does not exists in the European legal system for this case.

    It would also reflect badly on the integrity of the European court system if the Chagossians weren’t ruled in favour of their return and right of land, as well as compensation for lost property and time.

    The British have already compromised the integrity of their own court rulings by political meddling and use of a royal prerogative.

    The British officials will surely continue their old angle in that the Chagossians were compensated for their displacement by accepting payments. But as poor the Chagossians were, they weren’t exactly given an option other than to sign the papers handing over their land.

    The latest twist is the conversion of the area to a nature protected zone, partly designed to prevent the Chagossians return and perhaps to make the idea more popular amongst the British public. The British and US mock-up conservation group have of course realised they will need conservation workers and are now discussing the Chagossians long awaited chance to return as guardians of the nature. Or more correctly defined, as modern-day paid slaves in their own country for the purpose of saving political face.

    Peresumably the Chagossians will be counting turtles, skinks and fairy-terns and other endangered speces, while US soldiers and British admin-personnel continue to play with their toys on the main island of Diego Garcia.

    The British are of course plain wrong, while the Americans are just renting stolen land and thus distanced from this wrongdoing. But the British people are now much more aware of their governments past and current wrongdoing and appear to support the Chagossians case. Then again, the whole affair dates back to a time of western colonialism and involves a still existing old British racist school of thought vs. a new school of modern-day and fairer thinking. Whichever wins the votes of confidence makes a difference, but then again, do the British people really care about few Indian Ocean islands and their displaced natives? Whatever the case, it shouldn’t make a difference in the eye of The European Court of Human Rights. If nothing else, it will become a highly political and entertaining trial which the Queen of England can have no say in!

    By the way, Stealing a Nation should be available on Google or YouTube as well as various other video networks http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-3667764379758632511#

  3. A. Sooriarachi Says:

    When it is a clash between the interests of UK, USA and former colonial powers on the one hand and the human rights of the powerless, poor people and nations on the other, all those great human rights activists and organisations like Navi Pillai, Brad Adams, Desmond Tutu, Human Rigts Watch, Amesty International, ICJ etc remains fast asleep. Maybe the only way to get the support of these individuals and organisations could be to do what the LTTE did and build up a large base of wealth and use it to arouse these groups into action.
    This issue also highlights how much UK and USA care for human rights and how they always manipulate justice to their advantage.

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