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Kernow FA and the Chagossians
On Sunday 25th August, I attended a football match for the first time in my life and I really enjoyed watching the Kernow Football Alliance take on a team made up of Chagos Islanders.
I think it is fantastic that the Kernow FA has been founded and accepted into CONIFA (the Confederation of Independent Football Associations), which is the “football federation for all associations outside FIFA” and supports more than 55 “teams from nations, de-facto nations, regions, minority peoples and sports isolated territories.”

As someone who is involved in numerous campaigns for greater Cornish recognition, I would like to congratulate everyone involved with this wonderful initiative to ensure there is a Cornwall team playing on the international stage.

I would also like to praise the actions of the Kernow FA organising committee for being so supportive of the Chagos Islanders, which included holding a press conference to help publicise their plight when they were in Cornwall.

It is a truly shocking story. Between 1967 and 1973 the UK Government forcibly evicted the Chagossians from the Chagos Archipelago in the Indian Ocean, so that they could lease the largest of the islands (Diego Garcia) to the United States for use as a military base.

The expulsion of this community has been condemned many times as one of the most shameful episodes in British post-war history and the consequences of the exile has been very severe on the Chagossians, many of whom live in exile in Mauritius and the United Kingdom.

Campaigners have brought a range of legal challenges against the UK Government and the islanders won a historic victory in the High Court in 2000. This ruled the actions of the UK Government to be illegal and Tony Blair was in a position to end the injustice. But, in 2004, he instead invoked an obscure royal prerogative to ban the islanders from ever returning to Diego Garcia and the surrounding islands.

The UK Government appealed a more recent High Court ruling and, in recent years, has even had the brass neck to argue that it is not feasible for the Chagossians to return home, because their existence would be “precarious” and “prone to the impacts of climate change.” Strangely, they have raised no concerns about the 4,000 US servicemen and contractors, presently living on Diego Garcia.

It is shameful that the UK Government continues to hide behind legalese, and dubious and very mean-spirited arguments to stand against people who they have so terribly wronged. It is time that the Government did what is right and that is to allow the Chagossians to return home, and to help them to rebuild their communities.
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By Dick Cole. Published on 14th September 2019.

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