Page content

Human Rights of Chagos Islanders Examined at Ulster

28 April 2010

University of Ulster students will today experience a once in a lifetime opportunity as they will be given a talk by Hengride Permal, Secretary of the UK Chagos Support Association.

Students from the School of Criminology, Politics and Social Policy will hear at first hand the plight of the Chagos Islands community, who were displaced in the 1960s and 1970s by the UK government to make way for a United States military base on Diego Garcia, the main island in the Chagos group.

A native of the Indian Ocean islands, Ms Permal is also chairperson of Chagos Island Community Association. Their case was brought to the High Court of Justice in 2000, and the court ruled in the islanders favour stipulating that they should be allowed to return to their homeland.

Ten years on the British government has tried to use Royal orders to over rule the court’s rulings, and further appealed to the Law Lords to prohibit the islanders from returning. The Chagossians are now in the process of taking their case to the European Court of Human Rights, where they are hoping it will be heard later this year.

At the Ulster talk, Ms Permal will give a history of the Chagossians and detail what is currently happening with regard to their situation. It will also include what the Chagossians are hoping for and their resolution.

Dr Paul Hainsworth, from Ulster’s School of Criminology, Politics and Social Policy, said: “We welcome Hengride Permal to talk to our students and show that this case has many facets, ranging from the structure and working of the laws in Britain to a human rights case that could have long lasting implications in world politics.

“It challenges the notions of domination of powerful countries over smaller nations, and who better to hear from on this subject than a native of the Chagos Islands.”

Third year student and event organiser Lorna Timmons, said: “It is wonderful that the University of Ulster is able to bring to light such a challenging case, that has largely been under the radar for some time.”

The talk from Hengride Permal will take place on Wednesday 28 April at 2:15pm in room 9F06 at Ulster’s Jordanstown campus.