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Chagossians in Mauritius Seeking British Citizenship

By Nasseem Ackbarally, Panafrican News Agency (Dakar), 14 March 2001

Port Louis, Mauritius - A group of Chagossians, part of a displaced community in Mauritius, has staged a protest in front of the offices of the British High Commission in Port Louis demanding British citizenship.

The group is part of the estimated 1,500 Chagossians reportedly evicted by the British government in the 1960s to make way for the construction of a US military base on the island of Diego Garcia, which is part of the Chagos archipelago, some 1,200-km, north of Mauritius.

The protesting group stormed the British High Commission citing a British High court decision last October, which they claim, allows them to return to all the islands of the Chagos archipelago, excluding Diego Garcia.

"Put us in prison or take us back to Diego," the Chagossians shouted Wednesday. The group started the protest late Tuesday.

Officials at the British High Commission told PANA the Chagossians' request had been transmitted to the Foreign Office in London.

"We are waiting for a reply from the Foreign Office by Friday," High Commissioner David Snoxell said.

Mauritius is a former British colony, but the government in Port Louis is claiming ownership of the disputed Diego Garcia islands, which London considers part of the British Indian Ocean Territory.