116-6 UN votes diplomatic victory for Chagossians and stinging defeat for Britain

In an overwhelming vote in favor of the rights of Chagossians, the General Assembly of the United Nations voted by 116 votes against 6, condemning the British occupation of the Chagos Islands, a stinging diplomatic defeat for the United Kingdom .

The vote was in favor of a motion setting a six-month deadline for the United Kingdom to withdraw from the Chagos Island chain and reunification of the islands with neighboring Mauritius, according to the Guardian newspaper. However, British diplomats said the non-binding resolution would have little practical impact.

The United Kingdom and the United States, which use Diego Garcia , one of the islands, as a military base, fought hard to prevent such political rebellion. However, the best that both powers could do was to persuade 56 member states to abstain from voting.

This victory of the Chagossians, although on paper, comes after 50 years of struggle for the return of the islanders in their homes. The battles in the British courts and before the International Court in The Hague took so long that some islanders died without being able to return to their islands after a forced eviction.

Pierre Prosper , president of the Chagossian group in the Seychelles, said the islanders' struggle to recover their home was not completely over.

"While we consider that the victory of the Mauritian government in the United Nations General Assembly is a potentially positive development for the Chagossians, the British government has always maintained negative positions towards us (...), but we are very Worried about the sincerity of the Mauritian government's demand to meet Chagossian aspirations, the Mauritian government has never promoted or supported the well-being of the Chagossians, especially those of Mauritius, "said Prosper.

The President added that this was a sad and dangerous precedence. "In this perspective, the Chagossian local committee will start discussions with the Mauritian government, hopefully with the help of the Seychelles government."

According to Mr. Prosper, the Chagossians will now ask for an "autonomous territory" governed by Chagossians under the Mauritian flag. "Our own government, our own legislation, our own budget and our own border control. The Chagos Islands should be a "protectorate". Mauritian citizens may, by default, establish themselves and engage in commercial activities, but with the authorization of the "Chagossian Regional Government".

The group said it would also ask the Mauritian government to recognize the Chagossians as an indigenous group.

"We do not want to be integrated into the Mauritian society as a generic citizen of Mauritius without special rights. We hope all Chagossians understand and support this position, especially those of Mauritius, "said Prosper.

In addition, Mr. Prosper said that "we will also ask the Mauritian government, in its negotiations with the United Kingdom, to talk about fair compensation for all Chagossians, and especially for those who are willing in Seychelles, who have never received any form of compensation ".

"Finally, we would always like to leave the door open for direct talks with the British government, in view of a change of attitude towards the Chagossians."

The Guardian also reported the following: In London, the Foreign Office stressed the importance of the partnership with the United States for the Diego Garcia military base. "The UK and US Joint Defense Facilities in the British Indian Ocean Territory Help Protect British and Global Citizens from Terrorism, Organized Crime and Piracy," said a spokeswoman .

"As the US government has made clear, the status of BIOT as a British territory is essential to the value of the joint facility and our common interests - an arrangement that can not be replicated."

Voting in the General Assembly of the United Nations endorsed an advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in February, calling on the UK to give up its hold on the territory in order to complete the process decolonization.

Source: Seychelles News Agency