Chagos islander kicked out of Paradise and wants to go home

Chagossians who want to go home: Yvan Ramsamy with wife Marie Francesse Monica and daughter Anna Marie Wrendy

Chagossians who want to go home: Yvan Ramsamy with wife Marie Francesse Monica and daughter Anna Marie Wrendy

First published in News This Is Local London: Photograph of the Author by , reporter

Kicked out of their home in paradise to make way for a US military base, the Chagos Islanders are a displaced people longing to return home. SARAH TROTTER speaks to an Abbey Wood Chagossian who is desperate to go home.

AN EXPELLED Chagos Islander says he could die with sadness due to his family’s "poor and stressful" life in the UK.

The collection of 60 tropical islands in the Indian Ocean were home to the Chagossians for more than 150 years before they were turfed off by the British in 1970s to make room for a US bomber base.

A petition with thousands of signatures calling for 700 surviving Chagossians to be allowed home was recently handed to the White House while the European Court of Human Rights is soon due to rule on the issue.

Yvan Ramsamy's family was shoved off their island home and parcelled off to Mauritius where they were extremely poor.

The 46-year-old, who now lives in Abbey wood, moved to England in 2003 in search of a better life with his wife Marie Francesse Monica and four children.

But they have struggled with cultural difficulties and loneliness without friends and family support.

He said: "I will be happy to pass away. In our culture we share, we have our activities, we have the sea and can go fishing.

"I came to England to get a better life - now here, we have a poor life, a lot of stress.

"We don’t have a culture - our culture is destroyed.

"It isn’t a real life. Even in Mauritius I could catch some fish, but here I don’t have anything."

"If you call me next year I might have passed away from sadness."

The father-of-four says it is hard for islanders to mix with British people as their English is poor and his children do not have any friends here.

Mr Ramsamy worked as a cleaner in Lewisham Hospital before back and stress problems stopped him from working.

And since the Government's recent social welfare reforms he says he's being forced to reapply for housing benefit.

He said: "It is hard because if you don’t speak very well you can’t argue."

The family now say they would rather be poor in Mauritius and re-experience their culture than be wealthier and unhappy in the UK.

Mr Ramsamy ended by saying: "I would stay there without food, without work, but I couldn’t do it because we can’t afford to go back."

Foreign Office response

Responding to the issue, a Foreign Office spokesman said: "We are very committed to working with Chagossian groups on areas where we can agree. These include arranging visits to the islands for individual Chagossians, as well as building capacity in the Chagossian communities to work on science, conservation and environmental projects in BIOT.

"We don’t seek to justify all of what was done to those living on the Chagos Islands in the late 1960s and early 1970s. That is why significant compensation was paid in the early 1980s.

"But we cannot put back the clock, and the arguments against allowing resettlement are very clear and compelling. This is not only about our security commitments but also about the very feasibility of re-establishing a settlement on these remote and low-lying islands."

Comments (10)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

7:39pm Fri 22 Jun 12

Leslie Ian Jones says...

The UK Goverment for years kept this affair very secret. Done in the pre-internet age that could be done. This fellow readers isn't a conspiracy theory story but conspiracy fact. All power to Yvan Ramsamy and his family. Shame upon every politician down the years who allowed this to happen!
The UK Goverment for years kept this affair very secret. Done in the pre-internet age that could be done. This fellow readers isn't a conspiracy theory story but conspiracy fact. All power to Yvan Ramsamy and his family. Shame upon every politician down the years who allowed this to happen! Leslie Ian Jones
  • Score: 1

9:40pm Fri 22 Jun 12

mouthalmighty says...

This is so sad. I wish this man and his family be granted their desires. They deserve more. Shame on great Britain and even more shame on USA. We don't know individuals stories, but we are all too quick to judge. Good luck and hang on in there.
This is so sad. I wish this man and his family be granted their desires. They deserve more. Shame on great Britain and even more shame on USA. We don't know individuals stories, but we are all too quick to judge. Good luck and hang on in there. mouthalmighty
  • Score: 1

8:58am Sat 23 Jun 12

Leslie Ian Jones says...

THe UK government made this made homeless and stateless when removing him The Chagos. Now they spin regulations to make him even more isolated. The solution is simple. Allow him and the other Chagossians to go home and compansate for 40 years of injustice.
THe UK government made this made homeless and stateless when removing him The Chagos. Now they spin regulations to make him even more isolated. The solution is simple. Allow him and the other Chagossians to go home and compansate for 40 years of injustice. Leslie Ian Jones
  • Score: 0

10:31am Sat 23 Jun 12

goldenbroomboy says...

This is an appalling story, and as Leslie mentions above, it is not that well known. I found out about it through looking up British Indian Ocean Territory on the Internet since I wondered why they were not represented at the Commonwealth Games, the reason being everybody was deported because of an American Base.

What is really hypocritical of the UK government is that they are now trying to justify the continued exile of the Chagossians because of a conveniently created "conservation area".

I only wish that some of the effort which goes into condemning the Israeli government for the treatment of Palestinians could be put to the Chagossian cause. We cannot tell the Israelis what to do, but we can pressure our own government to rectify this injustice against members of our Commonwealth.
This is an appalling story, and as Leslie mentions above, it is not that well known. I found out about it through looking up British Indian Ocean Territory on the Internet since I wondered why they were not represented at the Commonwealth Games, the reason being everybody was deported because of an American Base. What is really hypocritical of the UK government is that they are now trying to justify the continued exile of the Chagossians because of a conveniently created "conservation area". I only wish that some of the effort which goes into condemning the Israeli government for the treatment of Palestinians could be put to the Chagossian cause. We cannot tell the Israelis what to do, but we can pressure our own government to rectify this injustice against members of our Commonwealth. goldenbroomboy
  • Score: 1

7:29pm Sat 23 Jun 12

sabrina jean says...

As a chagossian i would like to tell the person who had talk on behalf of fco where is humanities for we chagossians people ,as Britain always on top for their Human Rights, NO matter what he said i will continue to fight i will met Henry bellingham recently i will speak again everytime they said the give us compensation , did they tell how much it was when converted it in rupeesit was nothing for us, they got money for fishing licence in the past what did they do with the money, nothing for chagossian. But i will be very clear in the past they done everything to chagossians because they don't know how to read but now no way the generation know how to speak , how to deal how to write , we will continue our fights till the end of our life but we will never give up
As a chagossian i would like to tell the person who had talk on behalf of fco where is humanities for we chagossians people ,as Britain always on top for their Human Rights, NO matter what he said i will continue to fight i will met Henry bellingham recently i will speak again everytime they said the give us compensation , did they tell how much it was when converted it in rupeesit was nothing for us, they got money for fishing licence in the past what did they do with the money, nothing for chagossian. But i will be very clear in the past they done everything to chagossians because they don't know how to read but now no way the generation know how to speak , how to deal how to write , we will continue our fights till the end of our life but we will never give up sabrina jean
  • Score: 1

10:25pm Sat 23 Jun 12

paul271966 says...

As a Chagossian I would like to ask the foreign office spokesman something, they gave us £3000 compensation in the past is that what you call a fair compensation ?. For you is that worth a human's being life?. If us Chagossians we gave you one million pounds to leave your country to start a new beginning, a new life , start everything all over again without any support or conditions I am sure that you would say that its not a fair compensation ! but think about 30 years ago you gave us £3000 to lose everything and start a new beginning without any support,but now you are talking about £3000 compensation like it was 3 millions pounds. just for my wife to come to live with me in UK I have already spent £3000 on provisional visa.For you it was easy in the past to come to fool our parent with £3000 because they did not have any education to write or read and understand, without knowing that they were heading into a trap that is why they were not able to reclaim their rights ,But us as children of the Chagossians we went to school we learned your language and how to write it to make you understand in your own language and you can't say you don't understand it .If you are still going to act blind and deaf like you don't have any mercy for us , well we will never give up until we die!!! I hope you will understand without saying you can't put the clock back
As a Chagossian I would like to ask the foreign office spokesman something, they gave us £3000 compensation in the past is that what you call a fair compensation ?. For you is that worth a human's being life?. If us Chagossians we gave you one million pounds to leave your country to start a new beginning, a new life , start everything all over again without any support or conditions I am sure that you would say that its not a fair compensation ! but think about 30 years ago you gave us £3000 to lose everything and start a new beginning without any support,but now you are talking about £3000 compensation like it was 3 millions pounds. just for my wife to come to live with me in UK I have already spent £3000 on provisional visa.For you it was easy in the past to come to fool our parent with £3000 because they did not have any education to write or read and understand, without knowing that they were heading into a trap that is why they were not able to reclaim their rights ,But us as children of the Chagossians we went to school we learned your language and how to write it to make you understand in your own language and you can't say you don't understand it .If you are still going to act blind and deaf like you don't have any mercy for us , well we will never give up until we die!!! I hope you will understand without saying you can't put the clock back paul271966
  • Score: 0

10:25pm Sat 23 Jun 12

paul271966 says...

As a Chagossian I would like to ask the foreign office spokesman something, they gave us £3000 compensation in the past is that what you call a fair compensation ?. For you is that worth a human's being life?. If us Chagossians we gave you one million pounds to leave your country to start a new beginning, a new life , start everything all over again without any support or conditions I am sure that you would say that its not a fair compensation ! but think about 30 years ago you gave us £3000 to lose everything and start a new beginning without any support,but now you are talking about £3000 compensation like it was 3 millions pounds. just for my wife to come to live with me in UK I have already spent £3000 on provisional visa.For you it was easy in the past to come to fool our parent with £3000 because they did not have any education to write or read and understand, without knowing that they were heading into a trap that is why they were not able to reclaim their rights ,But us as children of the Chagossians we went to school we learned your language and how to write it to make you understand in your own language and you can't say you don't understand it .If you are still going to act blind and deaf like you don't have any mercy for us , well we will never give up until we die!!! I hope you will understand without saying you can't put the clock back
As a Chagossian I would like to ask the foreign office spokesman something, they gave us £3000 compensation in the past is that what you call a fair compensation ?. For you is that worth a human's being life?. If us Chagossians we gave you one million pounds to leave your country to start a new beginning, a new life , start everything all over again without any support or conditions I am sure that you would say that its not a fair compensation ! but think about 30 years ago you gave us £3000 to lose everything and start a new beginning without any support,but now you are talking about £3000 compensation like it was 3 millions pounds. just for my wife to come to live with me in UK I have already spent £3000 on provisional visa.For you it was easy in the past to come to fool our parent with £3000 because they did not have any education to write or read and understand, without knowing that they were heading into a trap that is why they were not able to reclaim their rights ,But us as children of the Chagossians we went to school we learned your language and how to write it to make you understand in your own language and you can't say you don't understand it .If you are still going to act blind and deaf like you don't have any mercy for us , well we will never give up until we die!!! I hope you will understand without saying you can't put the clock back paul271966
  • Score: 0

10:55am Sun 24 Jun 12

mouthalmighty says...

It is in situations such as these that I am ashamed to be British. How can we hold our heads up high and not be ashamed to be British. All too often now the past is catching us up and exposing our forebearers as callous
It is in situations such as these that I am ashamed to be British. How can we hold our heads up high and not be ashamed to be British. All too often now the past is catching us up and exposing our forebearers as callous mouthalmighty
  • Score: 0

3:16pm Mon 25 Jun 12

paul271966 says...

Us Chagossians we want to give you an idea to the Foreign ?Office Spokesman on how we have spend the £3000 you gave us to repair our lives for all the suffering you put us through. We have paid 3000 Rupies for the British passport , we have paid the settlement visa for our wives and kids, for a provisional visa we had to pay £1000 per head for a two year visa. After two years we had to pay again to renew the visa. And then we have paid £1000 for the indefinite visa , same thing for the kids.Now think of all of us that have more than two kids.The £3000 you call a compensation was not enough , it only paid the visas , which made you get more money in profit as we spend more than £3000 on the visas. For us its a business trick to get money back. That's why we had to sell everything we ever owned , like our furniture,to help pay for all our needs to come to England to have a better life. now i would like you to explain to us how can you call that a compensation. that's why we will never give up until you understand ....
Us Chagossians we want to give you an idea to the Foreign ?Office Spokesman on how we have spend the £3000 you gave us to repair our lives for all the suffering you put us through. We have paid 3000 Rupies for the British passport , we have paid the settlement visa for our wives and kids, for a provisional visa we had to pay £1000 per head for a two year visa. After two years we had to pay again to renew the visa. And then we have paid £1000 for the indefinite visa , same thing for the kids.Now think of all of us that have more than two kids.The £3000 you call a compensation was not enough , it only paid the visas , which made you get more money in profit as we spend more than £3000 on the visas. For us its a business trick to get money back. That's why we had to sell everything we ever owned , like our furniture,to help pay for all our needs to come to England to have a better life. now i would like you to explain to us how can you call that a compensation. that's why we will never give up until you understand .... paul271966
  • Score: 0

10:22am Wed 27 Jun 12

paul271966 says...

As a chagossian I would like to show the UK Gov how they punish us and carry on appeal everytime just to make this case waste our time and spend a lot of money from the public funds.

Only for the housing benefit , every months they pay for me £1250 in one year it makes £15000. I have been in England for 4 years the government has already spent £60,000 for the housing benefit which if we convert in Mauritian rupies 2,640,000 millions. Just to make me live isolated like am in a prison. I hope this will give you an idea if the UK government should settle this case as soon as possible.

Our parents is already over 60, and they have to travel from Mauritius to England just to come here to get funds and even though they are British they do not receive anything back home because the UK government don't pay overseas
Our parents are old,sick,tired and sad . They live isolated no friends because they cant speak English . And also the weather is not good for them and they don't have any choice.They had to come tolive to England otherwise they have to live in a very poor life.

I hope the Government understands our situation and do the right thing for us chagossians
As a chagossian I would like to show the UK Gov how they punish us and carry on appeal everytime just to make this case waste our time and spend a lot of money from the public funds. Only for the housing benefit , every months they pay for me £1250 in one year it makes £15000. I have been in England for 4 years the government has already spent £60,000 for the housing benefit which if we convert in Mauritian rupies 2,640,000 millions. Just to make me live isolated like am in a prison. I hope this will give you an idea if the UK government should settle this case as soon as possible. Our parents is already over 60, and they have to travel from Mauritius to England just to come here to get funds and even though they are British they do not receive anything back home because the UK government don't pay overseas Our parents are old,sick,tired and sad . They live isolated no friends because they cant speak English . And also the weather is not good for them and they don't have any choice.They had to come tolive to England otherwise they have to live in a very poor life. I hope the Government understands our situation and do the right thing for us chagossians paul271966
  • Score: 0

Comments are closed on this article.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree