Lection Connection - Spirit Sightings

March 17, 2019: Journey Towards Trust

From Fraser Macnaughton

 

One of the world’s most longstanding evictions has been that of the Chagos Islanders, for whom the “Journey towards Trust” has been tortuous. And yet the islanders and their descendants have kept the faith that their forcible eviction could be righted.

 

This took a turn for the better recently when the International Court of Justice ruled that the UK’s decolonization of the Chagos Islands in the Indian Ocean was unlawful and it should immediately end its administration of the archipelago that is now home to the Diego Garcia U.S. military base. The World Court said the UK acted illegally when it divided the territory from Mauritius in 1965 and later displaced thousands of islanders.

 

The Chagos Islands are currently part of British Indian Ocean Territory. British authorities evicted 2,000 people from the islands during the 1960s and 1970s so the U.S. could build its strategically important military base. Many of the evicted islanders were sent to Mauritius and the Seychelles but eventually resettled in the UK. For decades, islanders and their descendants have been campaigning for the right to return home. Olivier Bancoult, chairman of the Mauritius-based Chagos Refugees Group, said the ruling made him “so happy.” “It is a big victory against an injustice done by the British government for many years. We people have been suffering for many years – I am so lucky today.”

 

Britain has apologized several times for the “shameful” way the evictions were carried out, but it has consistently refused to allow Chagossians to return. In another twist, however, evidence is emerging that third-generation Chagossians who were settled in the UK are now being subject to the Home Office “hostile environment” policy that has so badly come unstuck in reference to the “Windrush generation” – people from former British colonies who were encouraged to come to the UK in the 1950s and ’60s, some of whom now face deportation due to the fact of non existent paperwork giving them a right to remain. It would appear the some Chagossians may fall into the same category.

 

Explore…Genesis 15:1–12, 17–8

  • What other groups around the world are you aware of for whom the road to justice is a long journey?
  • Can you think of resources and tools which help such groups to keep faith in trust on their journey?
  • Are there biblical examples you can think of that might inform you better as to the challenges faced by some groups to maintain and trust in “trust”?

 

Prayer…

May we do what we can to support those who quest for justice, those who keep faith in the idea of trust. Help us to learn from their fortitude and endurance. Amen.

 

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