HANSLEY NABAB in Port Louis, Mauritius
PORT LOUIS – THE United Kingdom’s blatant disregard of orders by the United Nations and international courts to vacate the Chagos Islands and hand them back to Mauritius highlights the hypocrisy of the European nation, which claims to be proponent of the rule of law and a champion of human rights.
It is the most prominent act of defiance of the UN since the UK supported the invasion of Iraq in 2003 over the discredited claim the Western Asian country possessed so-called weapons of mass destruction.
In May, the UN General Assembly supported the International Court of Justice’s ruling against UK and gave the country six months to give the islands back to Mauritius.
A total of 116 countries supported the resolution and only six voted against, including UK allies such as Australia, Israel and the United States of America (USA).
Subsequently, on November 22, the former coloniser missed a deadline to hand over the island and maintained its illegal occupation.
Legal experts denounced the double standards by UK, which has a tendency of accusing rivals, mostly developing countries, of human rights violations and disregarding the rule of law.
Among the countries that the former coloniser has over the years been at odds with is Zimbabwe, since the Southern African nation repossessed land from mainly white commercial farmers since 2000.
“The next time the UK lectures Zimbabweans and other Africans about the rule of law, kindly ask them to respect the rule of international law and hand over Chagos to Mauritius first,” said Petinah Gappah, the international lawyer.
With the defiance of orders to cede Chagos Island to Mauritius, the UK now has the unenviable tag of a rogue state, a blemish that has incurred the wrath of even its citizens.
“Not proud to be a citizen of a nation defying a UN resolution about our occupation of the Chagos Islands,” British author, Paul Canon Harris, stated.
He added, “We continue to hold on to them (Chagos Islands) because of the American military. What a pathetic vassal state we have become.”
Chagos Islands is home to the US naval base –Diego Garcia.
UK leased the area occupied by the base until at least 2036.
The leasing followed the expulsion of about 2 000 Chagossians, the occupants of the island, in 1966, to Mauritius and the Seychelles.
“The UK is now according to international law acting the part of a rogue state for appearing to ignore the UN’s deadline on the Chagos Islands. There is nothing sensationalist about this. It’s a statement of fact,” lamented author, Mats Nilsson.
UK granted Mauritius independence in 1968.
However, the islands measuring 56,13 km2 were not returned to Mauritius but became what is called British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT).
Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the opposition Labour Party, censured the government for its illegal occupation.
“It’s clear that in refusing to return the Chagos Islands to Mauritius and defying the UN General Assembly and International Court of Justice, this Conservative government shamefully considers itself to be above international law,” he said.
Ahead of next month’s general election, he pledged a Labour government would end this form of colonial rule.
“We immediately will enact our manifesto promise to allow the people of the Chagos Islands and their descendants the right to return to the lands from which they should never have been removed,” Corbyn assured.
Tariq Mahmood Ahmad, UK Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, earlier maintained his country’s defiant stance.
“The UK has no doubt as to our sovereignty over the British Indian Ocean Territory, which has been under continuous British sovereignty since 1814.
“Mauritius has never held sovereignty over the BIOT and the UK does not recognise its claim,” the non-compliant Ahmad said.