Amnesty International held a British national conference at Nottingham this past weekend; I didn’t go, but Tilly did.
The Blackheath and Greenwich group, of which we are members, presented one of the resolutions to be debated. It calls on Amnesty to do more about the wrongs suffered by the people of the Chagos archipelago, in the Indian Ocean. The resolution passed, though it had been opposed by the board. Some of these resolutions have to do with the principles or management of the organization; others, like this one, call for work or increased work on some issue or country. A problem is that in today’s world, where new outrages against human rights seem to be erupting at an increasing rate, Amnesty is already devoting its limited resources to so many of them that extra work may lead to funds or researchers’ time being taken away from something else.
In any case, I have been concerned about these people that you may not have heard of, the Chagos Islanders, otherwise known as Chagossians or by the French term Ilois, “islanders.” (The main island of the archipelago, Diego Garcia, is perhaps better known.) I learned of the issue sometime in the 1980s on reading an article in Cultural Survival magazine, so I have kept and updated my story of the conflict, which you could read here. It’s part of my collection – which is a long way from being filled out – about the value of the world’s varied ethnic groups and minorities.