Chagossians reclaim our land:
people evicted by the UK,
land leased to the US military

Chagos is an Archipelago in the Indian Ocean administered by the British government. Between 1965 and 1973, the UK and US, with the complicity of Mauritius, evicted 5000 Chagossian people from Chagos islands (including Diego Garcia) to make way for the biggest US nuclear/military base outside the US. 

The British government leases the Chagos Archipelago to the US for at least $2 billions a year and other concessions - e.g. £5 million owed to the US for the Polaris nuclear missile was waived. The US military is increasing the pressure to stop us from returning and reclaiming our home.

We have been organising for the right to return to our native land and for financial compensation for what we have suffered: for the crime of forced deportation, the theft and destruction of our livelihood and property, and the attempt to wipe out our identity and our culture.

To justify our deportation, the UK government lied to the United Nations, claiming that Chagossians were temporary workers from the Seychelles and Mauritius. It took 30 years to get the UN to recognise that we are Native people, living on these islands since 1776 - when the French brought our ancestors there as slaves.

A strategic military base

Diego Garcia, the biggest inhabited island, was key as a refuelling base during the 1991 Gulf War and the current war against Iraq. It served as a base for B-52 bombers. The US also used Diego Garcia to launch bomb attacks against Afghanistan.  Currently, a number of al-Qaeda suspects are being held and interrogated on the island. The base is also critical because it serves the other US bases in Africa, Middle-East and South-East Asia. The US has plans to expand their base


The British government never consulted the Chagossian people, only with the US and Mauritian governments. There has never been a referendum, nor were people even warned about the deportations. Some Chagossians had gone to Mauritius for health care, but were never allowed to go back to the islands. All ships were stopped, the UK authorities burned people’s birth certificates and killed all our domestic animals in front of us.

In Mauritius, we have faced terrible racism, extreme poverty and hardship. When we arrived we were met by police who confiscated all our belongings. They searched for papers, including doing body searches of women.  While the white elite from Chagos received money to resettle in Australia, Black Chagossians were deported like animals in a cargo hold, reminiscent of how slaves have been treated for centuries.

Clemencia, a grandmother born in Diego Garcia said, “I used to work harvesting coconuts, picking four coconuts per tree, I would carry 25 coconuts per bag on my head. I had to harvest 700 coconuts per day. I did that from age 10. My wage was 10 rupees per month (20p). I looked after the family garden and a few animals for subsistence.  I went to Mauritius in 1967 to get health care for my son, then I was not allowed to come back.  Mauritius people are very racist against Chagossians.” Living in poverty as a domestic worker, Clemencia left Mauritius on 1 June 2003 to join one of her sons who was already in the UK.

In 1983, 10 years after the deportations, the UK gave the Mauritian government £4m cash, and Mauritius “contributed” £1m as the value of the land to “compensate” the deported Chagossians. But only certain Chagossians got £1000 each as “final and full compensation” and were forced to abandon any claims. Many could not read what they signed, many signed with their thumb print. Those deported to the Seychelles got no compensation.

We have opposed these deportations for the last 30 years. In Mauritius, we held demonstrations, mass sit-ins in front of the UK Embassy, and hunger strikes by Chagossian women to demand the withdrawal of the US base and the right to return to Chagos, including Diego Garcia. Women have been at the forefront of our struggle, which won an important court decision.

Protest in Mauritius (1980) – “Rann NU DIEGO”  - Give us back Diego!
(Clemencia on the left)

On 3 November 2000, the High Court in London granted Chagossians the right to return to all the Chagos islands. The Court acknowledged that we had been unlawfully removed from the island. The UK government granted us full British citizenship. . . 30 years after the deportations!

However, on 9 October 2003, the High Court ruled the Chagossians had no right to compensation, and questioned the ruling which granted the right to return. This judgment violates many international conventions which recognise our right to enter our own country, the obligation on the UK to ensure the “well-being of the inhabitants” of the territories it administers, and other international legal rights. 

Over the last year, a community of over 100 Chagossians has come to the UK to reclaim our rights. We have been faced with the same racism and discrimination we faced in Mauritius.  Even though we are British citizens, we are denied proper accommodation and benefits. Many have be made homeless or will soon been made homeless.

The Chagossian Group UK has joined the peace camp at Parliament Square because we have no place to go and we want to make our struggle and demands public. Legal Action for Women and Payday (a men’s network), both based at Crossroads Women’s Centre, have been helping us with our demands for housing, welfare and other reparations.

We demand that:

1 The US military base withdraws from Diego Garcia;

2  The British Government immediately arranges for our re-settlement in the Chagos Archipelago (notwithstanding the 9 October 2003 Court ruling)

3  All generations of Chagossians get UK passports (up to now only deported Chagossians of the 1st and 2nd generations have a passport);

4 All Chagossians who want to settle in the UK get permanent housing

5 £5000 every month for each Chagossian for as long as the British Government leases Chagos, including Diego Garcia island to the American army.


·       Write to UK Foreign Office c/o Jack Straw fax 020 7008 1589 or email c/o

·       Write to US Defence Attaché Office in London to demand that the US government recognises the right to return to our islands.
Fax:[44] (0) 20 7894-0726 email:

·       Send a donation: - contact us if you can help.

Evicted from our accommodation, many camped outside Parliament

Chagossian Group UK – in London
Tel 07952 594527