April 6, 2001 From: The Anguilla Independence Movement



Anguilla's plight

The island of Anguilla is only 16 miles long and 3 miles wide. We are situated 11 miles North of St. Martin. We are a colony of Great Britain and have been for over 400 years. The problem is, we dont recieve any finacial aid from them but they have all the constitutional powers. They impose laws on us from England against our better judgement, the impose laws on us with total disregard for the Christian comunity of which 97% of us are.

We are labeled by the UN as a non-self governing territory because even though we have elections, all the power is in the hands of a British Governor. He can fire elected Government leaders, they have no power whatsoever! The British Government is not recognizing our right to political independence and they are not recognizing the United nations decolonization committee.

We are a small island with 16'000 souls, in the world, we are insignificant! All we want is the power to decide our destiny, all we want is freedom! We cannot do it by force but with your help, we can. Please tell someone about our plight and get involved. We are not asking for money, we are only asking for attention to this grave situation in 2001.

The injustices and bullying by the British administration is not limited only to Anguilla and the other Caribbean colonies. Their imperialist tentacles have spread far and wide to include such areas as Gibraltar on the coast of Spain and Diego Garcia, an island in the Indian Ocean.

Can you imagine living on Anguilla and your mother country take you off and relocate you onto a foreign country? Come to think of it, this was almost a real possibility for Anguilla our grandfathers were offered a permanent trip to British Guiana some years ago. Recently, there were rumours of Sombrero being given away and even Dog Island being leased to be used as a bomb range by the US military.

Sadly for the people of Diego Garcia ‘Ilois’, this became a reality when in the late 60s and early 70s they were taken off by the Mother country and relocated on the island of Mauritius, where they have lived in poor conditions. This was done by the British to make room for the U.S. to set up a military base.

The Ilois fought to return to their homeland and it was taken to court and unfortunately in 1971 they lost the case. Determined to make that wrong right, they pressed on and just this month they won a High Court judgment allowing them to return to their homeland.

The celebration by the Ilois was short lived as the Mother country said the island will remain off limits to the people and they could not return. The colonial administration of British Indian Ocean Territory - actually Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials in London - has issued a new ordinance allowing the 5,000 Ilois, to return to any of the 52 Chagos islands except Diego Garcia.

The islanders will need permits to visit Diego Garcia, now the only inhabited island, and British officials made clear permits would not be issued except in special circumstances. The ordinance was published in the territory's official gazette. The island houses about 1,500 US military personnel and 1,500 staff working for private contractors serving the base.

Richard Gifford, solicitor for the islanders' legal campaign, indicated they would not mount an immediate challenge to their exclusion from the archipelago's biggest island, even though most of the 2,000 people ejected had come from there. Instead, they would focus on resettlement and "remind the government of their legal and moral obligation to open up the islands".

Though the Foreign Office is conducting a feasibility study to see whether resettlement is possible, officials indicated they would do no more than meet obligations under the United Nations charter to provide basic policing, justice and healthcare. There was no obligation to provide an airfield or port. "We will not be going all out to create a public sector-funded community on these islands," one official said. Though private sector investment in tourism was possible, the colonial administration would seek to prevent the environment of the coral atolls, which have a combined landmass of 23 square miles including Diego Garcia, from being “wrecked”.

The isolation of the 37-mile-long atoll has enabled US military to operate from its airstrip and harbour with unique freedom from surveillance. Britain has still to hold talks with the US on the security of the Diego Garcia base following the judges' ruling. The base is an air, naval, logistics and communications hub from which B-52 bombing raids have been launched against Iraq.

Let us not take anything for granted. Orders in Council, acts in Parliament; whatever the British wants, the British gets. We are not even considered. They have their international obligations to meet, and sadly, they don’t include us and our way of life!

Let us unite as a people and prepare for separation from Britain!


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