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Benjamin Zephaniah campaigns to get exiled Islanders home

PATRON: Poet Benjamin Zephaniah

THE PLIGHT of the Chagosian people may not be widely known but one man is looking to change that.

The UK Chagos Support Association has named poet Benjamin Zephaniah as their official patron for their campaign to repatriate 1500 exiled Islanders.

The accomplished novelist, playwright and musician has long been a supporter of the Chagos community and has said: “I will do anything I can to help these people return to their islands".

Zephaniah has publically declared that the struggle of a population forcibly removed from their homeland by the UK for over 40 years, as an "affront to human rights, freedom and democracy".

In his new role as patron, the 56-year-old poet emphasised that at this crucial time it is vital that “all fair minded people do what they can to stand up for Chagossians and their rights.”

“I was immediately outraged,” he said as he recalled the first time hearing about the plight of the Chagossian people many years ago.

“I couldn’t believe such a huge injustice had happened, and continues to happen, in modern times. I was just a street poet from Birmingham, but I remember telling myself that I will do anything I can to help these people return to their lands.”

With the UK Government poised to make a decision on whether to support the return of the Chagossian people to their homeland very soon, Zephaniah is now looking to the future.

“The British Government must do the right thing, we all know that. It’s been over forty years already and freedom delayed is freedom denied,” Zephaniah said.

UK Chagos Support Association took to their website to share their excitement, and said: “We look forward to working with Benjamin to make sure, this time, freedom and justice are unambiguously delivered.”

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