Crimes against humanity: Seychelles' Chagossian community reacts to HRW report
More than 2,000 Chagossians have been fighting to return to their home since they were expelled from the islands between 1967 and 1973. (Wikipedia) Photo License: CC0
The Chagossian community must be included in any negotiations about the future of the island, said the chairperson of the Seychelles Chagossian Committee after discussions with the Human Rights Watch (HRW).
Pierre Prosper told SNA on Friday that Seychelles was represented in discussions that led to the report.
"In the discussions with HRW, we spoke of the need to give Chagossians the chance to be part of negotiations about the future of the islands, rather than just the UK and Mauritius government," said Prosper.
The Human Rights Watch report comes as the United Nation's highest court, the International Court of Justice, has ruled that Britain's continued occupation of the archipelago is illegal. As a result, Britain is coming under increasing international pressure for maintaining what it calls British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT).
According to the BBC news service the Human Rights Watch Report has stated that "The UK is committing crimes against humanity after removing people from the Chagos Islands, a British territory in the Indian Ocean."
BBC said that the "Human Rights Watch called for Britain to pay reparations to Chagossians and allow them to return to the islands, from which more than 1,000 people were forced to leave in the 1960s and 1970s."
Prosper said, the report has stated that full reparations must be paid not only to the displaced Chagossians but also to their descendants and that the United States must also pay the reparations.
"That is because the inhabitants of the Indian Ocean Island were forced out of their homes after a military base leased to the US was set up on the largest island of the archipelago, Diego Garcia," he added.
Prosper said that the Chagossians are requesting priority access to the islands should they choose to return there, as well as autonomy for the Chagos similar to that of Rodrigues, another island that is a part of Mauritius.
In the HRW 106-page report, the UK has also been accused of three crimes against humanity - the ongoing forcible eviction of Chagossian citizens, preventing their return to their homes, and persecuting them because of their race and ethnicity.
According to the 1998 Rome Statute, which created the International Criminal Court, acts done as a part of a widespread or systematic assault targeted against any civilian population are considered crimes against humanity.
The report also stated that a complete and unconditional apology from King Charles for the crimes the UK committed against the Chagossians was also advised by Human Rights Watch.
The Last Colony, a book written by historian and barrister Philippe Sands, claims that the British closed down the island's plantations and cut off food supplies, telling families they had to depart by ship by April 27, 1973, or they would eventually starve.
Without compensation, the majority of the people living in the Chagos Islands were transferred to Mauritius. Some of them relocated to Britain, where many now reside in Crawley, West Sussex, and Seychelles.
More than 2,000 Chagossians have been fighting to return to their home since they were expelled from the islands between 1967 and 1973 to allow the United States to build a military base on Diego Garcia.
More than 200 were deported to Mahe, the main island of Seychelles when the country was still a British colony. The rest were deported to Mauritius, also a British colony at the time.