Hackney screenings of John Pilger’s Stealing a Nation aim to raise awareness of Chagossians’ plight


Chagos - Credit: Archant

Journalist John Pilger’s award-winning documentary film about the struggle of the Chagossians is being screened in Hackney to raise awareness of their plight.

Stealing A Nation describes how the population of around 2,000 people who lived on the Chagos Archipelago in the Indian Ocean were forcibly removed from their homes by the British government in the late 60s and early 70s, and dumped at a port in Mauritius.

The United States has leased the islands from the UK since 1966 as a foreign base in exchange for a discount off nuclear weapons, and negotiations on the 50-year lease must be complete by December 2014.

Since their removal the Chagossians have been fighting to return home.

Adam Burton who has organised the screening said: “By refusing to recognise the Chagossians’ human rights, and refusing to compensate them appropriately, Britain perpetuates this colonial era injustice.

“Greater public awareness of the Chagossians’ struggle and the crimes of past and present governments might force the negotiations to take on some meaningful purpose.”

A spokesman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said they could not agree with resettlement in present circumstances. “The feasibility study we commissioned in 2002 showed that lasting resettlement would be precarious and would entail expensive underwriting by the UK Government for an open-ended period.

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“Equally, we need to maintain the availability and effective use of the entire Territory for defence purposes. The UK courts have upheld the lawfulness of our policy on not permitting resettlement.”

The film will be shown at The Russet in Hackney Downs Studios, Amhurst Terrace at 7.30pm on Tuesday July 2.

For more information see www.chagossupport.org.uk.