Reply to RV
By David Snoxell
RV suggests (Islanders stuck up in Crawley) that my article (Falkland Islanders must be masters of their own fate but what about the Chagos Islanders?) trivialised the sovereignty issue and that the Chagos Islands (BIOT) All-Party Parliamentary Group (AAPG) ignores it. RV discerns a “strategy to hush up” Mauritius’ sovereignty claim in the House of Commons.
A re-read of my article and much else that I have written on Chagos clearly demonstrates that I believe that an overall settlement of the issues, including sovereignty and resettlement is needed, and this I have been advocating since I became British High Commissioner to Mauritius in September 2000.
The purpose of the APPG, which has held 27 meetings since it was established in December 2008, is “to help bring about a resolution of the issues concerning the future of the Chagos Islands (BIOT) and the Chagossian people”. That covers all aspects – the plight of the Chagossians, sovereignty, human rights, potential resettlement, environment, marine conservation, cultural heritage, defence, security, bilateral relations with Mauritius, immigration and so on.
In fact the Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Group are meeting a Home Office minister on 22 February to discuss the problem of Chagossians who do not meet the current immigration criteria. The Mauritius High Commissioner has addressed the Group. If RV has evidence of a hidden agenda I should like to see it. My view is that Parliamentarians are to be congratulated for their dedication and assiduous pursuit of an overall settlement which I am confident will continue whatever the result of the Strasbourg case.
RV’s description of the Chagossians who have settled in Crawley was true when they first arrived from 2002 but today many have a positive experience of life in Britain which includes housing, education, jobs, health and social care. They have long since moved from around the airport. The Mayor, local people and their MP value their presence in the local community in which they increasingly take an active part.
May I suggest that if tendentious comment is made in the press there is an obligation on the author to reveal his or her identity?
* Published in print edition on 10 February 2012