The Chagos Islanders, who were evicted over 30 years ago to make way for the Diego Garcia air and naval base, are hoping finally to win the right to go home through a court case that starts today. They had previously won two court decisions, in 2000 and 2006, declaring the evictions unlawful. This court case will see the government appealing against the 2006 decision.
Olivier Bancoult, chairman of the Chagos Refugees Group, said yesterday: "We believe this will be the final round. What we are asking for is our fundamental rights and dignity as human beings." He said that he was not worried that the government could take the case to the Lords if it lost this one.
With regard to American security concerns Mr Bancoult pointed out that the islanders were not asking to return to Diego Garcia, but other islands in the chain. He rejected American arguments that a return to those outlying islands could compromise the base's security. "Some of these islands are 200-300 miles from the base," Mr McKinnon said. "That's a wide security perimeter."
A Foreign Office spokesman said yesterday: "At present the matter remains sub judice. It remains inappropriate to comment on the grounds for the appeal, in view of the legal proceedings starting this week."
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Chagos Archipelago Chagossians