Written evidence from Rosy Leveque (NBB0015)
Dear Ms. Harman & Fellow Committee Members,
As you know, the Citizenship & immigration issues remain unresolved for the descendants of the Chagos Islands. Many of us are now 2nd & 3rd generation.
The generational trauma, pain and sadness continue to be ever-present in our daily lives.
My grandparents were born in Diego Garcia in the 20s. My grandmother took a ship to Mauritius because she was about to give birth to my mum in 1969 and she wanted to have better medical care when she gave birth. She was told she was not allowed to return to Diego Garcia because it had been sold to the US military.
Since then, my grandparents petitioned for the right to return to their homeland along with many other Chagossians. They were left on Mauritius in Port Louis with nothing, no food, money or accomodation.
As a small child in the slums of Mauritius, I remember going to protests with my mother and my grandparents, my grandparents did a hunger protest in front of the Mauritius parliament., numerous other marches and protests were held. They were beaten by the Mauritius government, guards came with sticks and beat the women and told them to go back to their slums.
To this day, Chagossians are not being heard. We are part of the BIOT and we deserve to have our family all be in one place. Today, families are broken, some left in Mauritius because they can't get a British passport. Others who came to the UK had to leave because they were not allowed to get permanent visas. Chagossians have been through so much pain and suffering and it still won't end.
We haven't received justice, we have been left to our own devices, in broken families across the world. We accept that we are part of the BIOT community, we no longer want to be governed by the corrupt Mauritius ruling. Chagossians could not read or write, and they were misled to sign off their own human rights by the corrupt leaders by giving their fingerprints as signatures. They didn't know what they were signing.
Mauritius did nothing to help us, the Mauritian government stole from our own people, they were the ones who sold Diego Garcia in the first place in order to get independence. And now history is repeating itself with Agalega which I am sure you have heard, Mauritius has sold Agalega to India to be used as an Indian military base. The government in Mauritius is threatening descendants of Diego Garcia with fines and prison sentences if they say they are part of BIOT.
Once again the Mauritius government is shutting down Chagossians and refusing us our human rights. We are not part of Mauritius, we are part of BIOT.
This is unjust, unfair, unlawful and something has to be done to end over half a century of pain and suffering. I am a 2nd generation Chagossian and I feel the pain my grandparents felt when they were exiled from their own homes, and I will continue to fight until the day this is made right.
We understand the Nationality & Borders bill is now making its journey through parliament.
As a descendent from the Chagos Islands, I am writing to ask you and your fellow MP's & Peers to consider expanding this bill to include us. This bill has a broad title, and where there's the political will, there is a way to amend the bill to embrace us.
It would go a considerable way in fixing an unbearable situation for many of us forcibly displaced abroad. The high costs of immigration are not viable for us. We believe we are entitled as BOTC descendants to claim the right to register for British & BOTC nationality. The law needs to be changed!
We hope that the voices of BIOT/BOTC can be heard clearly during the committee stages, leading to a resolution. Henry Smith MP and Andrew Rosindell MP are vocal supporters of us. We hope the rest of parliament will listen to them in their representations of us.
Thank you for your time.