From Hansley Nabab in Port Louis
The United Kingdom's blatant disregard of
orders by the United Nations and international courts to vacate the
Chagos Islands and hand them back to Mauritius highlights the hypocrisy
of the European nation, which claims to be a proponent of the rule of law
and a champion of human rights.
It is the most prominent act of defiance of the UN since the UK
supported the invasion of Iraq in 2003 over the discredited claim the
Middle Eastern country possessed so-called weapons of mass destruction.
In May, the UN General Assembly supported the International Court of
Justice’s ruling against UK and gave the country six months to give the
islands back to Mauritius.
A total of 116 countries supported the resolution and only six voted
against, including UK allies such as Australia, Israel and the United
States of America (USA).
Subsequently, on November 22, the former coloniser missed a deadline to
hand over the island and maintained its illegal occupation.
Legal experts denounced the double standards by the UK, which has a tendency
of accusing rivals, mostly developing countries, of human rights
violations and disregarding the rule of law.
Among the countries that the former coloniser has over the years been at
odds with is Zimbabwe since the Southern African nation repossessed
land from mainly white commercial farmers since 2000.
“The next time the UK lectures Zimbabweans and other Africans about the
rule of law, kindly ask them to respect the rule of international law
and hand over Chagos to Mauritius first,” said Petinah Gappah, an
With the defiance of orders to cede Chagos Island to Mauritius, the UK
now has the unenviable tag of a rogue state, a blemish that has incurred
the wrath of even its citizens.
“Not proud to be a citizen of a nation defying a UN resolution about our
occupation of the Chagos Islands,” British author, Paul Canon Harris,
He added, “We continue to hold on to them (Chagos Islands) because of
the American military. What a pathetic vassal state we have become.”
Chagos Islands is home to the US naval base – Diego Garcia.
UK leased to the US the area occupied by the base until at least 2036.
The leasing followed the expulsion of about 2 000 Chagossians, the
occupants of the island, in 1966, to Mauritius and the Seychelles.
“The UK is now, according to international law, acting the part of a rogue
state for appearing to ignore the UN's deadline on the Chagos Islands.
There is nothing sensationalist about this. It’s a statement of fact,”
lamented author, Mats Nilsson.
UK granted Mauritius independence in 1968.
However, the islands measuring 56,13 square kilometres, were not returned to Mauritius
but became what is called British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT).
Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the opposition Labour Party, censured the
government for its illegal occupation.
“It’s clear that in refusing to return the Chagos Islands to Mauritius
and defying the UN General Assembly and International Court of Justice,
this Conservative government shamefully considers itself to be above
international law,” he said.
Ahead of next month’s general election, he pledged a Labour government
would end this form of colonial rule.
“We immediately will enact our manifesto promise to allow the people of
the Chagos Islands and their descendants the right to return to the
lands from which they should never have been removed,” Corbyn assured.
Tariq Mahmood Ahmad, UK Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth
Affairs, earlier maintained his country’s defiant stance.
“The UK has no doubt as to our sovereignty over the British Indian Ocean
Territory, which has been under continuous British sovereignty since
"Mauritius has never held sovereignty over the BIOT and the UK does not
recognise its claim,” the non-compliant Ahmad said.
- CAJ News