Editor’s note: Here we post (1) LALIT’s call for a statement from News and Letters Committees for a demonstration against the U.S. military base on Diego Garcia, (2) their report on the government’s prohibition of the demonstration and the event they held anyway, and (3) News and Letter Committees’ message to the demonstration.
LALIT’s call for a statement of support
Thank you for the copy of News & Letters and sharing with your readers LALIT’s articles on the Chagos-Diego struggle.
We wondered whether you would be able to send a short message of support to be read out on the occasion of a peaceful demonstration we will be holding in Port Louis on Friday 8 December calling for the closure of the U.S. military base on Diego Garcia?
LALIT is part of a Common Front called the “Komite Diego” (Diego Garcia Committee). The “Komite Diego,” as well as LALIT, consists of other organizations (a women’s organization the Muvman Liberasyon Fam, a trade union federation the Confederation des Travailleurs du Secteur Privé, a neighborhood association Muvman pu Progre Ros Bwa) as well individuals—and we all adhere to the triple commitment to work towards the re-unification of the country and people of Mauritius through complete de-colonization of Chagos with freedom of movement over all the islands, the full reparations and right of free return for all Chagossians, and base closure.
Following the British State losing (94-15) at the UN General Assembly last year (see “The struggle in Diego Garcia continues,” Sept.-Oct. 2017, News & Letters) in its attempt to block an International Court of Justice case, as proposed by the African Union and Mauritian Resolution, and the UK suffering a second defeat when its candidate for a judge on the ICJ (International Court of Justice) panel (the warmonger Anthony Greenwood) had to desist before imminent defeat last week, at the same time we need to put on the agenda the closure of the Diego Garcia base, and all imperialist military bases for that matter. This is a crying need when there is someone like U.S. President Donald Trump as Commander in Chief. In Mauritius, we also need to make our position abundantly clear when the Mauritian Government, after finally being forced by our mobilization over decades of struggle to go ahead with an ICJ case, has since the inception of the case before the ICJ, gone and made an abject appeal in the UN General Assembly to the USA for lease money for the Diego Garcia island (one of the Chagos islands) where the U.S. military base is! Hence our peaceful march to call for the base to be closed….
This would be of great importance to us. One message from a country or a continent gives the modest event in one country its true feeling—of being something that will succeed, when it succeeds, in proportion to its successful internationalization.
Comradely greetings, and thanks so much for considering this request,
Alain Ah Vee
Demonstration prohibited at the last minute
Thursday afternoon, Dec. 7, the day before it was due, our demonstration was declared prohibited under the repressive “Public Gatherings Act.” The way this happened is the following: For all demonstrations, so as not to fall foul of this law, organizers have to inform the police at least eight days before the protest. The police then have 48 hours to raise any objection, and their objections must be reasoned and in writing. If they don’t object, you just go ahead. There is one exception: you can’t hold a demonstration in the Capital on a day that Parliament sits, without written authorization from the Police Commissioner. Parliament sits on Tuesdays according to its standing orders. However, when the National Assembly adjourned on Tuesday, they fixed a special session for Friday, the day of our march.
Three of us went to the Police Headquarters on Dec. 7 to demand that the Police Commissioner consider using his discretionary powers. We waited for three hours. He did not give authorization. But at least he issued a letter which amounts to prohibition under the law, and the government will have to pay a political price for prohibiting a march on the Diego Garcia issue.
We informed all our member organizations and our own members that the demonstration the next day would be cancelled. We then held a gathering of about 75 people on the social centre veranda, where the march was to start, while two members went to deliver an open letter of protest to Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth against the base and his seeking money for it. Naturally the rest of us started with a protest against the Public Gathering Act’s repressive provision that you cannot demonstrate on a day Parliament sits. The anti-Riot police had jeeps in front of the Social Centre and a large Black Mariah about 75 metres up the road. But they did not act against our gathering so long as it did not go outside the gates.
On the Diego Garcia issue, the State will not want to pay the political price that any physical force against us would entail (my personal guess). The national Press were present in impressive numbers, and it was written up, on radio and bits on TV sites. So, your letter of support (we received 7 in all—from organizations in Namibia, USA, UK, India, France) was particularly important to us—with our demonstration being prohibited. At out gathering we took a resolution together that the day’s gathering is a rehearsal for the real demonstration. It will probably have to be next year, what with a by-election and then the New Year celebrations that start early. So, your solidarity message will be used, in all likelihood, for two demonstrations!
Alain, who usually writes to you, sends his best wishes, too,
for LALIT www.lalitmauritius.org
Our message of solidarity
December 2, 2017
We in News and Letters Committees while struggling against the monstrosity who is now running the USA, want to extend our solidarity to LALIT and Komite Diego and wish you success at your demonstration being held on December 8 calling for the U.S. military base on Diego Garcia to—at long last—be closed!
It is way, way past time for the outrage of the military base to be closed and for those who were brutally forced to leave their own land and homes—the Chagossians—to be able to return.
While military bases like the one in Diego Garcia aid the militarist and imperialist aims of the rulers in the United States, they only further impoverish U.S. citizens and workers at home. Likewise, any payoff that those who run Mauritius may receive from leasing the U.S. base will not benefit the Mauritian masses and certainly will not meet the demands of the Chagossians.
U.S. President Trump is a warmonger with a bent personality who has shown time and again that he has no regard for either human life or any who do not worship him and the almighty dollar. There could be no better time for the closure of the U.S. base in Diego Garcia, and we wish you all success in your endeavor. As you know, we have supported your struggle for decades as we work for a revolution in permanence and a transformed world based on new human relationships.
Terry Moon, Managing Editor, News & Letters
For News and Letters Committees