History Brought To Life
"I have no scores to settle... I just have a passion for the truth," said Jean-Claude de l'Estrac during the launch of his latest book, "L'an prochain à Diego Garcia '' last Saturday at the International Book Fair at Rajiv Gandhi Science Centre. An honest, detailed account of what really happened when Chagos was excised from Mauritius and the tragic story of the injustice suffered by the Chagossians. L'an prochain à Diego Garcia was published by les Editions le Printemps, represented at the Iaunch by its director, Ahmed Suleiman. Several key guests were also present at the event, including the former presidents of the republic, Cassam Uteem and Karl Offman and the French ambassador to Mauritius, Jean-François Dobelle.
Jean-Claude de lEstrac thanked all those who supported him in carrying out the extensive research required for the book, which included consulting documents from London, such as notes from ministers, transcripts of conversations, secret letters and much more - a total of 3150 documents. Speaking of research carried out in the USA and in Mauritius, Jean-Claude de l'Estrac thanked Nad Sivaramen, former journalist now based in Washington D.C and Ronald Raimbert, head of archives at La Sentinelle.
The launch was also the occasion for the various speakers to retrace the history of the Chagossians and highlight their courageous struggle for their voices to be heard. Jean-François Dobelle, the French ambassador to Mauritius, spoke of the "cynicism of the colonial power" and the fact that with the creation of the marine park, the Chagossians have been "sacrificed on the alter of the environment god."
Cassam Uteem delivered an especially moving description of the book and its author, highlighting some of the key segments of the displacement of the Chagossians.
His voice, full of passion and emotion, reminded the audience of the pain, suffering and humiliation raced by the Chagossians - a sad episode of Mauritian history that he likened to the displacement of the Palestinians. There is no one, he explains, who knows the Chagos dossier like Jean-Claude de l'Estrac, who, as a member of parliament in the 1980's, defended their cause. A book that tells a story of cruelty, displacement, deportation, exile and suffering, says Cassrnn Utecm and that leaves the reader with a "feeling of bitterness and revolt against the colonisers."