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CHARGES have been filed in the International Criminal Court (ICC) against the British military representative at Diego Garcia, Lieutenant Commander Kay Burbridge, over allegations of apartheid against Chagossians, it was announced today.
Jonathan Levy, the lawyer for those forcibly removed from the archipelago in the 1960s, confirmed that a file had been lodged against Lt Cdr Burbridge and the London-based administration of the British Indian Ocean Territory.
He has demanded they are arrested and brought to trial in The Hague.
According to the submission, the territory’s British administration has instituted laws preventing the Chagossians from living in the Chagos Archipelago, which they may only visit under military escort.
“The all-white administration enforces these laws with the help of a Royal Navy contingent in the islands,” Mr Levy said.
In addition to the naval commander, charges have been filed against the commissioner, deputy commissioner, administrator and legal advisers.
Mr Levy said that the Chagossians fear retaliation owing to the presence of the joint UK/US military base on Diego Garcia and called for protection from the ICC.
The Chagos Archipelago was separated from Mauritius in 1965, when it was still a British colony.
Britain purchased it for £3 million, but Mauritius claimed that it was pressed into the sale, which was made in return for independence.
The British government evicted the entire population of the Chagos Islands before inviting the US to build a military base on Diego Garcia.
In February last year the UN’s International Court of Justice ruled that Britain should leave the Chagos Islands “as rapidly as possible.”
Three months later the UN general assembly vote voted overwhelmingly for the return of the islands.
But an official statement from the British Foreign Office said: “This is an advisory opinion, not a judgment.”
It has since refused to comply with the ruling and has been condemned for “an unlawful and serious violation of international law” by refusing to allow the Chagossians to resettle.
Mr Levy said: “Racism is the enemy of all mankind and apartheid is the highest form of racism.
“For officials of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, as well as their legal advisers, to promote racism is completely unacceptable.
“The Chagossians only seek to return to their homes and property: the secret US/UK base at Diego Garcia can coexist with the Chagossians.”
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