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Anglican Church in Indian Ocean calls for Chagossians’ right of return to Diego Garcia

Posted on: April 2, 2019 5:41 PM
An aerial view of a coconut plantation at East Point, Diego Garcia
Photo Credit: US Government / Wikimedia

The Standing Committee of the Church of the Province of the Indian Ocean has expressed its solidarity with the Chagossian people in their fight to return to their island homelands. The UK government retained controls of islands in the Chagos Archipelago when it granted Mauritius independence in 1968. A number of them were evacuated through forced displacement. One of them, Diego Garcia, is home to a US military base. In February, the International Court of Justice in The Hague issued an advisory opinion to the UN General Assembly in which it said that “the United Kingdom is under an obligation to bring to an end its administration of the Chagos Archipelago as rapidly as possible.”

The court said that it was “of the opinion that, having regard to international law, the process of decolonisation of Mauritius was not lawfully completed when that country acceded to independence in 1968, following the separation of the Chagos Archipelago” and that “all Member States are under an obligation to co-operate with the United Nations in order to complete the decolonisation.”

In a communiqué following its meeting last month, the bishops, clergy and laity that make up the Standing Committee of the Anglican Church of the Indian Ocean congratulated the Prime Minister and Government of Mauritius “for drawing to the attention of the International Community through the United Nations the fate of the displaced Chagossian people.”

They added: “The International Court of the Hague recently commented on this dehumanising situation and advised that the United Kingdom should return to the Chagossians and to the Republic of Mauritius this territory which belongs to them. We hope that all parties concerned will be receptive to this appeal of the International Court of The Hague.”

The communiqué addressed a number of concerns, and called on Anglicans throughout the Province to “review its social commitment in order to make more visible the presence of the God who sanctifies, heals and gives life.”

Referring to challenges in societies throughout the Province, the communiqué said: “These challenges are many and they touch various aspects of life including family life, violence in schools and in some cities where we face a climate of insecurity. The traffic and use of drugs, which increasingly is affecting children, and the lack of urban planning are sources of great concern.

“It is also worthy of note that secular society is gaining ground, the presence of God is marginalised and that a large number of Christian parents are not engaged in the Christian formation of their children.”

The Standing Committee affirmed its intention “to be a good steward for God. The management of creation and the Proclamation of the Good News of Jesus Christ is incumbent on us and it is our duty to work according to the grace of God to turn dehumanising situations into situations that bring hope and joy.”