Descendants of the Chagos Islands hold peaceful protest outside Parliament in response to Nationality and Borders Bill

Descendants of the natives of the Chagos Islands held a peaceful protest outside of Parliament on Wednesday in response to the Nationality and Borders Bill.

Friday, 10th September 2021, 2:06 pm

The Chagossian community, who predominantly live in Crawley, is affected by the Bill - particularly Part 1: Nationality; British Overseas Territories Citizenship.

Chagossians are not covered by the Bill, which went to the committee stage on Wednesday, even though they are descendants of British Indian Ocean Territories (BIOT).

The Chagossians’ situation is different to the other 13 BIOTs. It is not possible for people from the Chagos Islands and their descendents to be born on the islands of BIOT. An Order in Council since 2004 banned any Chagossians from living on their native land.

Descendants of the natives of the Chagos Islands held a peaceful protest outside of Parliament on Wednesday in response to the Nationality and Borders Bill

This order means that Chagossians cannot pass on their British Overseas Territory Citizenship (BOTC) to their children who are being born away from the BIOT.

Rosy L'Evêque, from BIOT Citizens, who is a descendant of the Chagos Islands, said: “Citizenship and immigration issues remain outstanding and unresolved for the majority of Chagosian descendants.

“This Nationality & Borders’ Bill is of utmost importance in addressing some of the trauma, pain, suffering and sadness inflicted upon our people.

“It is a chance for MPs to consider Chagossians as people rather than a minor inconvenience to be disposed of at will, and amend the bill to include the islands and people of Chagos as part of its current BOTC.”

Chagossians are not covered by the Bill, which went to the committee stage on Wednesday, even though they are descendants of British Indian Ocean Territories

The administration cost alone of naturalisation is £1,330 for an adult.

A sizable majority of the Chagossian community reside in Mauritius, with a minimum wage of approximately £41 a month.

It would take 2.7 years for them to pay for their Citizenship to even be considered, assuming they have no cost of living.

Some Chagossians have already been deported from the UK because the Home Office did not grant them British Citizenship.

These families are spending on average between £5,000 to £10,000 on immigration and visas.

Rosy added: “We are the victims of an extreme and brutal series of actions by British, United States and Mauritian governments.

“Such actions which were in violation of Human Rights to a horrific degree not performed by a western power for decades before.

“It would go a considerable way in fixing an unbearable situation for many of us forcibly displaced abroad with little hope of integration or quality of life even after 50 years.

“The high costs of immigration are not viable for many Chagossians. We believe we are entitled as BOTC descendants to claim the right to register for British & BOTC nationality.

“We hope that the voices of BIOT/BOTC can be heard clearly during the committee stages, leading to a resolution.

“Henry Smith MP (Conservative MP for Crawley) and Andrew Rosindell MP (Conservative MP for Romford) are vocal supporters of us. We hope the rest of parliament will listen to them in their representations of us.”