Portraits of Chagossian Community Today

By the end of eviction in 1973, the indigenous Chagossian population of approximately 2,500 people were deported. Placed in slums between Mauritius and the Seychelles, families and the community were divided. Having no homes, belongings or skills outside of the coconut plantation, ‘re-settlement’ was extremely difficult. Living in appalling conditions the community struggled to survive.

In 1981, a group of six inspirational Chagossian women went on hunger strike for 21 days. This prompted several hundred women to demonstrate in front of the British High Commission in Mauritius. Although these protests were in vain it began the mobilization of the community. In 1983 The Chagos Refugees Group was founded. To this day the C.R.G. fight for the welfare of the community and for their legal right to return to their native home.

Under the U.K. Citizenship, British Overseas Territories Act (BOT) 2002, sections of the Chagos community are eligible for passports. However there are exemptions to this law which in turn means Chagos families are divided once again. A large contingent of the population now live in Crawley, U.K on the outskirts of London seeking better opportunities for their families.

Today the island born population has dwindled to under 750 people. This series of portraits is just a small section of the community who shared their personal history and memories with me. Each person’s struggle is unique, but all share a common longing for the right to return home.