A letter calling on President Obama to end ‘five decades of exile suffered by the Chagossian people’ has been backed by the Crawley Chagos community.
Seven Nobel laureates, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, urged the US President, a fellow Nobel laureate, to use his last days in office to help the plight of the people of Chagos in a letter today.
In the letter the laureates address Mr Obama: “In the last days of your presidency, we urge you to correct the historic injustice suffered by the Chagossian people, who have been living in impoverished exile for almost fifty years.
“For decades, Chagossians have asked for the right to go home. In November, the people were devastated when the UK said it would not allow a return despite a UK government-funded study showing that resettlement is feasible.”
The people of Chagos were displaced from their homeland in the Chagos Archipelago in the Indian Ocean to make way for a US miltary base on the British-controlled island of Diego Garcia.
Sabrina Jean, spokesperson for the Chagos Refugees Group UK branch, added: “The Chagos Refugees Group welcomes this important letter from Nobel laureates to President Obama.
“We, Chagossians, have been living in exile for decades, fighting to return to our homeland. Before you leave office, President Obama, please help right the wrong of this terrible injustice done to the Chagossian community.
“President Obama, everyone has the right to live in their motherland, but why not us?”
A spokesperson for the US support group for the Chagos community group Let Us Return USA! said the letter was geared towards ending ‘five decades of exile suffered by the Chagossian people’.
In the letter the laureates make clear that they are not asking for the removal or alteration of the military settlement, but only for the Chagos community ‘to be allowed to return to their islands to live in peaceful coexistence with the base’.
“Since their expulsion, the Chagossians have been living in profound poverty and struggling to return to their homeland,” the letter says.
“Only you now have the power to help the Chagossians return to their ancestral homeland,” the laureates told Mr Obama.
“You have the power to rectify this historic injustice. You have the power to show the world that the U.S. upholds basic human rights.
“Please help ensure that justice is done for the Chagossians.”
The leader of the Chagos Refugees Group, Olivier Bancoult, said: “We hope that as a Nobel Peace Prize winner, President Barack Obama will pay attention to his seven fellow Peace Prize winners and, before leaving the White House, correct the injustice committed against Chagossians.
“If he does, the world will remember him as someone who restored the fundamental rights of Chagossians to live on our birthplace.”
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