PETITION TO CLOSE MILITARY BASE ON DIEGO GARCIA

PETITION TO CLOSE MILITARY BASE ON DIEGO GARCIA

WHAT TO DO:

Step 1: Read the petition
Step 2: Select and copy all the text after the dotted line below
Step 3: Create a new mail message on your Internet mail
Step 4: Paste the text you have just copied onto the new mail message
Step 5: Fill in your name and address at the end
Step 6: Then you just have to cut & paste the email addresses into the "TO..." line in your mail message, and fill in the subject: "PETITION TO CLOSE MILITARY BASE ON DIEGO GARCIA"
Step 7: Press SEND


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To: speaker@mail.house.gov; vice.president@whitehouse.gov; hofccommission@parliament.uk; ramnahp@intnet.mu; lalitmail@intnet.mu

SUBJECT : PETITION TO CLOSE MILITARY BASE ON DIEGO GARCIA

To:
The Hon. J. Dennis Hastert: Speaker of the House of Representatives, US Congress
The Hon. Ted Stevens: Chair (President Pro Tempore) of the US Senate.
The Rt Hon Peter Hain MP: Office of the Leader of the House of Commons, UK
The Hon. Premnath Ramnah: Speaker of the National Assembly, Republic of Mauritius

We, the undersigned, call on the House of Representatives of the USA, the Senate of the USA, the Parliament of Great Britain and the National Assembly of Mauritius, to work to ensure:

1. The immediate decolonization of Diego Garcia and the Chagos Archipelago through the disbanding of the illegitimate "British Indian Ocean Territories"; the cancellation of the Orders in Council that prohibit the return of Chagossians to their native islands; the re-unification according to international law and the UN Charter, of the Republic of Mauritius that was dismembered as an illegal condition to Independence in 1968.

2. An immediate halt to ever using Diego Garcia for B-52’s or other military apparatus to attack other countries (whether Afghanistan, Iraq or any other land) and the complete closing down of the United States military base on Diego Garcia; the organization of an ecological clean-up; a public undertaking that no other base be set up elsewhere to replace this one; the conversion of part of the base into a non-military Tsunami Warning Station for the Indian Ocean, and part into a UNESCO World Heritage Site around a vast ecological project to regenerate the coral and the lagoons.

3. That an immediate visit by the Red Cross and respected journalists be organized, so that independent investigations can be conducted into the persistent allegations that there have been and/or are Guantanamo-style prisoners being held or "rendered" on or near Diego Garcia.

4. The immediate right of return, as well as full reparations and compensation for damages, from the US and UK governments to all Chagossians forcibly removed between 1965 and 1973.

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BACKGROUND INFORMATION
Dear Friends of the Diego Garcia campaign,

As you know, we in Lalit, in Mauritius, together with the Chagos Refugees Group, also in Mauritius and with two ex-Greenpeace operations militants in New Zealand, began a world-wide campaign to get hold of a ship and to take Chagossians, Mauritians and protesters to Diego Garcia island, so as to act towards the triple aim: closing down the US military base there, physically challenging the British and US illegal occupation of these Mauritian islands, and staking out the right to return while also claiming proper reparations from the UK and US Governments for all those forcibly removed.

The idea of a ship soon grew into the idea of a PEACE FLOTILLA. The first NO U.S. BASES meeting at the World Social Forum in Mumbai last year supported the idea, and it grew further. Around the world hundreds of groups of peace activists, war veterans, women’s groups, political parties, human rights groups, environmentalists, all enlisted their support by writing to us. We were overwhelmed.

At the same time, our activism and perhaps the coherence of our aim drew massive media attention to the triple crimes that led to our triple demand: the tearing apart of the country of Mauritius in the 1960’s and ’70s; the forcible removal of all the people living on their three native islands and the destruction of their unique matri-central society; all this to accomplish the ultimate aim: to destroy the most beautiful atoll in the world to make way for the massive US military base, from which now B-52’s and B-2’s take off to bombard Iraq, then Afghanistan, then Iraq again in predatory wars of empire.

As people in the UK and USA heard the truth, many wrote to us asking “What can we do to help?”

Meanwhile the Mauritian Government was forced to act. It threatened to take Britain to the International Court of Justice at the Hague. To do this, the Prime Minister had to threaten to pull Mauritius out of the Commonwealth so as to be able to get a binding judgement against Britain. Britain reacted immediately. Easy, Blair sent his UN representative to change the jurisdiction the UK accepts for ICJ cases so as to now exclude all ex-Commonwealth countries or any disputes before the 1970’s, as well as exclude Commonwealth countries.

Britain then also quickly passed an Order in Council, a dictatorial form of law, banning all the Chagossians from all three islands, thus reversing the UK Supreme Court’s decision of the year 2000 that they were entitled, under the Magna Carta of 1215, to protection from being evicted from their homes.

The British Government has also begun to issue British passports to the Chagossians, and to allow immigration into the UK. So, the community is now in the process of being absorbed into the metropolis.

The British Government reacted further, responding to a demand of the Chagos Refugees Group to visit the tombs of their ancestors, and has announced that it will itself pay and take the islanders for a visit to all the islands, including Diego Garcia. A ship is being looked for. The visit is planned for April.

So there are all sort of strategic reactions. And we have to respond to new realities, realities that are partly as a result of our campaign itself.

There are still legal proceedings in both the UK and USA. The Mauritian Government is furious because British tourist companies are taking whole liners of rich tourists to visit the Chagos.

And it continues to be strongly suspected that the US has been holding or rendering illegal prisoners on or around Camp Justice on Diego Garcia, treating it like an undisclosed Guantanamo.

And in the meantime, the haunting film STEALING A NATION by John Pilger shown on British TV added further support to our campaign. Everyone who saw it was touched.

More people want to do something to help.

In LALIT, we know that the best way to win a battle, is to be clear about the demands. It is also important that we include as many people in the movement as possible.

So, plans for the flotilla recede but do not disappear. We would still like Greenpeace to consider coming in, and we note with interest that they are supporting anti-base work in Japan. And now we are launching a new phase of this 30-35 year old battle with a very carefully drafted petition which we ask you to sign up to and which can become the core for our work.

We are addressing the petition to ELECTED REPRESENTATIVES rather than heads of government of the three States responsible for the crimes, so as to add a democratic impetus to our demands.

And we hope, with your help, to perhaps do follow-up afterwards, with elected representatives in different localities. Many of you have asked us what kind of work you can do in your respective neighbourhoods.

If you’d like more detailed background to the issues in the petition, either e-mail us, or visit our website www.lalitmauritius.com where you can just click on the picture of the Diego Garcia book.

Thank you for contributing to this key campaign. Please convince others to join in. Please also follow up with your elected representative.

The petition was launched on 12th March, 2005 on Independence and Republic Day in Mauritius. Please sign up as soon as possible. Our first deadline for petitions is 31st May, 2005.

Note that our petition is not an on-line one: it is an email petition which aims at preserving the age-old value of a signed petition, too. This is why we ask for your FULL physical address, signifying that you are standing by your signature.

Warm wishes,
Lindsey Collen
on behalf of LALIT
153 Main Road, Grand River North West,
Mauritius
Tel/fax 230 208 5551;
email: lalitmail@intnet.mu

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