A group of original Chagos Archipelago Islanders returned for a short emotional visit and re-stake their claim to their home Island back to Mauritian territory. The Island has been in UK control since 1970
The Mauritius government sent a boat to the disputed Chagos islands, where the United Nations’ highest court ruled that Britain’s occupation is illegal. Britain has previously rejected any calls for its return to the Mauritian Government . The island also is near an American military base.
The sand was warm as five islanders were thrown off their remote archipelago by the British half a century ago.
Olivier Bancoult, a Chagossian leader, said that he was thrilled to see the Mauritian government erected a flag post on the islands.
“This is not something unusual. It is normal that a nation raises its flag over its territory,” said the Mauritian delegation leader.
50 years after its population of several hundred was forced to leave within a matter of days, the island’s isolation and neglect has left a rusting rail track, rotting buildings, palm trees and vines.
Rosamonde Bertin cried out as she saw a large gull-like seabird swooping over the deck, followed by a shimmer of flying fish.
The boat Bertin was travelling on had crossed an invisible maritime border and entered the disputed territory around the remote Chagos Islands.
After being forced off the archipelago by Britain in 1972, a 57-year-old woman was able to return to her home islands without the permission of the UK government and soldiers.
The two women and three other villagers were the first to set foot on the Chagossians without British permission.
Bertin, then 17 and newly married, had a six-month-old baby boy when the first sign that Britain wanted them out was when the supply ship Nodvaer announced it had no food on board.
Bertin, her relatives, and Salomon’s entire population of around 300 packed their wooden trunks and boarded the Nodvaer, leaving behind an island life many described as simple, and blissful.
For the first time in history, an independent nation dispatched a boat to visit what it insists is its sovereign territory.
Despite concerted opposition from the UK and US, Mauritius has won several significant victories, and the UK has been ordered to formally decolonise Mauritius by formally renouncing its sovereignty over Chagos.
As the chartered boat, the Bleu de Nimes, entered the disputed maritime territory around the Chagos Islands, Mauritius’s UN ambassador said the move was not an unfriendly act against the UK.
The UK’s treatment of the Chagossians is a crime against humanity and the Prime Minister of Mauritius says the UK is violating the law.
The UK Foreign Office said it would not obstruct a trip to Mauritius to map Blenheim reef, but Mauritius denies the claim to sovereignty.
The UK removed the entire population of the Chagos islands in the 1970s, but Mauritian officials say they were blackmailed into surrendering the islands or forfeiting independence from the UK.
Most of the Chagossian population moved to Mauritius, 1,000 miles to the south. Some moved to Britain, but the Chagossian community is divided over the trip.
“The Chagossians are the real victims,” a group calling itself BIOT citizens tweets, describing the trip as a “huge political stunt” by the Mauritian government.