Experts’ Letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson and President Donald J. Trump Supporting the Exiled Chagossian People

Chagossian military base protestors

November 22, 2019

Dear Prime Minister Boris Johnson and President Donald J. Trump, 

We are a group of scholars, military and international relations analysts, and other experts who are writing in support of the exiled Chagossian people. As you know, the Chagossians have been struggling for more than 50 years to return to their homeland in the Indian Ocean’s Chagos Archipelago since the UK and US governments expelled the people between 1968 and 1973 during construction of the US/UK military base on the Chagossians’ island Diego Garcia. 

We support the Chagos Refugees Group’s call to “condemn the illegal occupation of [the] Chagos Archipelago by the British government” following the United Nations General Assembly Resolution adopted 22 May 2019 by a 116–6 vote. 

We support Chagossians today protesting the end of the six-month deadline by which the UN ordered the United Kingdom 1) to “withdraw its colonial administration” from the Chagos Archipelago, 2) to acknowledge that the Chagos Archipelago “forms an integral part” of the former UK colony Mauritius; and 3) “to cooperate with Mauritius in facilitating the resettlement” of Chagossians.

We support the Chagos Refugees Group’s call for the UK government to show “respect for [the] United Nations” and for the International Court of Justice judgement of 25 February 2019 that called UK rule in the Chagos Archipelago “unlawful” and ordered the UK to “end its administration of the Chagos Archipelago as rapidly as possible.”

We emphasize that the US government shares responsibility for the Chagossians’ expulsion into impoverished exile: The US government paid the UK government $14 million for basing rights and the removal of all Chagossians from Diego Garcia and the rest of the Chagos islands. We call on the US government to publicly state that it does not oppose Chagossians returning to their islands and to assist Chagossians in returning home.

We note the Chagos Refugees Group is not asking to close the base. They simply want the right to return home to live in peaceful coexistence with the base, where some want to work. The Mauritian government has said it will allow the US/UK base to continue to operate. Civilians live next to US bases worldwide; military experts agree resettlement would pose no security risk. 

We support the Chagos Refugees Group in saying the UK and US governments cannot continue “to banish [Chagossians’] fundamental right” to live in their homeland. You have the power to rectify this historic injustice. You have the power to show the world that the UK and US uphold basic human rights. We agree with Chagossians “that justice needs to be done” and that “it’s time to put an end to [their] suffering.”


Christine Ahn, Women Cross DMZ

Jeff Bachman, Lecturer in Human Rights, American University

Medea Benjamin, CoDirector, CODEPINK 

Phyllis Bennis, Institute for Policy Studies, New Internationalism Project 

Ali Beydoun, Human Rights Attorney, American University Washington College of Law

Sean Carey, Senior Research Fellow, University of Manchester

Noam Chomsky, Laureate Professor, University of Arizona/Institute Professor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Neta C. Crawford, Professor/Chair of the Department Political Science, Boston University

Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, Professor Emerita, California State University

Richard Dunne, Barrister/Author, “A Dispossessed People: The Depopulation of the Chagos Archipelago 1965-1973”

James Counts Early, Director Cultural Heritage Policy Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage

Hassan El-Tayyab, Legislative Representative for Middle East Policy, Friends Committee on National Legislation

Joseph Essertier, Associate Professor, Nagoya Institute of Technology

John Feffer, Director, Foreign Policy In Focus, Institute for Policy Studies

Norma Field, Emeritus Professor, University of Chicago

Bill Fletcher, Jr., Executive Editor,

Dana Frank, Professor Emerita, University of California, Santa Cruz

Bruce K. Gagnon, Coordinator, Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space

Joseph Gerson, President, Campaign for Peace, Disarmament and Common Security

Jean Jackson, Professor of Anthropology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Laura Jeffery, Professor, University of Edenborough 

Barbara Rose Johnston, Senior Fellow, Center for Political Ecology

Kyle Kajihiro, Board of Directors, Hawaii Peace and Justice/PhD Candidate, University of Hawaii, Manoa

Dylan Kerrigan, University of Leicester

Gwyn Kirk, Women for Genuine Security

Lawrence Korb, United States Assistant Secretary of Defense 1981-1985

Peter Kuznick, Professor of History, American University

Wlm L Leap, Professor Emeritus, American University

John Lindsay-Poland, Author, Plan Colombia: U.S. Ally Atrocities and Community Activism and Emperors in the Jungle: The Hidden History of the U.S. in Panama

Douglas Lummis, Visiting Professor, Okinawa Christian University Graduate School/Coordinator, Veterans For Peace – Ryukyus/Okinawa Chapter Kokusai

Catherine Lutz, Professor, Brown University/Author, Homefront: A Military City and the American Twentieth Century and War and Health: The Medical Consequences of the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan

Olivier Magis, Filmmaker, Another Paradise

George Derek Musgrove, Associate Professor of History, University of Maryland, Baltimore County   

Lisa Natividad, Professor, University of Guam

Celine-Marie Pascale, Professor, American University

Miriam Pemberton, Associate Fellow, Institute for Policy Studies

Adrienne Pine, Associate Professor, American University

Steve Rabson, Professor Emeritus, Brown University/Veteran, United States Army, Okinawa

Rob Rosenthal, Interim Provost, Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs, Professor Emeritus, Wesleyan University

Victoria Sanford, Professor, Lehman College/Director, Center for Human Rights & Peace Studies, Graduate Center, City University of New York

Cathy Lisa Schneider, Professor, American University 

Susan Shepler, Associate Professor, American University

Angela Stuesse, Associate Professor, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill

Delbert L. Spurlock. Jr., Former General Counsel and Assistant Secretary of the US Army for Manpower and Reserve Affairs

David Swanson, Executive Director, World BEYOND War

Susan J. Terrio, Professor Emerita, Georgetown University

Jane Tigar, Human Rights Attorney

Michael E. Tigar, Emeritus Professor of Law, Duke Law School and Washington College of Law

David Vine, Professor, American University/Author, Island of Shame: The Secret History of the U.S. Military Base on Diego Garcia 

Colonel Ann Wright, US Army Reserves (Retired)/Veterans for Peace

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