On Friday 8 December a demonstration in Mauritius calling for the huge US military base in Diego Garcia (in the Indian Ocean) to be shut down, and the archipelago's inhabitants to be allowed to return. On Thursday afternoon, the demonstration was banned.
The Chagos archipelago, of which Diego Garcia is part, was ruled by Britain. After Mauritius became independent, Britain bought the archipelago backed and forcibly evicted its inhabitants, between 1968 and 1973, to make way for the US base.
Workers’ Liberty sends support and solidarity to the march being held by LALIT and other comrades in the Komite Diego in Port Louis on 8 December.
At a time when the dispossession of the Chagossians and the British-organised occupation of their homeland by the US military finds fewer and fewer to justify it internationally, the British labour movement must exert pressure on the political leaders of our ruling class to push them from their entrenched position. That begins with putting the labour movement’s house in order, demanding that it takes a clear internationalist stance.
We have greater possibilities and greater responsibilities than previously because the leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, is a longstanding supporter of the Chagossian cause. Since becoming Labour leader, he has restated this support. But Corbyn is not the whole Labour Party and, as on many issues, the danger is that the party establishment will transform him as much as he transforms it. It is surely relevant that he has, for now at least, dropped his opposition to British membership of NATO.
Fortunately, Corbyn is now backed by a mass membership, well over half a million, which leans strongly to the left. Most of these members will know little or nothing about any of this, but the vast majority of those who learn about it will instinctively support the struggle. We hope to work with you over the coming months to raise these issues in the British labour movement and Labour Party, to demand the right of the islanders to return to their home, the removal of the US presence from Diego Garcia and the reunification of the Chagos with Mauritius.