Chagos Islanders protest British refusal to depart

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Port Louis (Mauritius) (AFP) – Demonstrators from the Chagos Islands protested Friday at British defiance of a United Nations deadline to finish their “unlawful occupation” of the Indian Ocean archipelago.

The islands have been on the centre of a decades-long dispute over Britain’s determination to separate them from Mauritius in 1965 and arrange a joint navy base with the US on Diego Garcia, the most important of the isles.

Olivier Bancoult, from The Chagos Refugee Group, led a peaceable protest of few dozen islanders exterior the British Excessive Fee on Mauritius, the place most of the displaced Chagossians stay after being barred from their homelands.

A UN deadline for Britain to depart ended Friday.

“This peaceable demonstration is meant to indicate the discontent of the Chagossians and Mauritians at Britain’s refusal to respect the United Nations decision, adopted on Could 22, and giving her six months to finish the unlawful occupation of Chagos,” Bancoult stated.

“Till now, Britain has proven no curiosity on the request of the UN, and has made it clear that it doesn’t intend to go,” he added.

Protestors waved flags and held up placards.

“Our dignity is just not on the market,” one learn.

– ‘Britain ought to be ashamed’ –

In Could, a complete of 116 international locations voted in favour of a non-binding decision offered by African international locations that urged Britain to “withdraw its colonial administration” from the Chagos Islands inside six months.

The ruling recognised Mauritius’s sovereignty over islands.

Solely six international locations, together with Britain and the US, voted in opposition to the measure within the 193-nation meeting.

“Britain ought to be ashamed,” Bancoult stated.

On Thursday, Mauritian Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth stated he was “deeply upset” at Britain’s failure to depart, and known as on London to finish its “unlawful administration.”

Britain, some 9,500 kilometres (5,900 miles) to the west from Chagos, insists the islands belong to London.

When contacted on Friday, London’s International Workplace refered AFP to an present assertion on its place.

“The UK has little question as to our sovereignty over the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT), which has been underneath steady British sovereignty since 1814,” the assertion learn.

“Mauritius has by no means held sovereignty over the BIOT and the UK doesn’t recognise its declare.”

In 2016, Britain renewed a lease settlement with the US for using Diego Garcia till 2036.

Diego Garcia performed a strategic function through the Chilly Warfare, after which as an airbase, together with through the warfare in Afghanistan.

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