THE LAST COLONY | A Busboys and Poets Books Presentation

THE LAST COLONY | A Busboys and Poets Books Presentation

Date and Time

Sep 27, 2023 6:00 pm

Location

14th & V

2021 14th St NW, Washington, District of Columbia, 20009

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Description:

In 1973, on the Chagos Islands off the coast of Africa, Liseby Elyse—twenty years old, newly married and four months pregnant—was, rounded up, along with the entire population of Chagos, and ordered to pack her belongings and leave her beloved homeland by ship or slowly starve; the British had cut off all food supplies. Some two thousand people who had lived on the islands of Chagos for generations, many the direct descendants of enslaved people brought there from Mozambique and Madagascar in the 18th century by the French and British, were deported overnight from their island paradise as the result of a secret decision by the British government to provide the United States with land to construct a military base in the Indian Ocean.

For four decades the government of Mauritius fought for the return of Chagos. Three decades into the battle, Philippe Sands became the lead lawyer in the case, designing its legal strategy and assembling a team of lawyers from Mauritius, Belgium, India, Ukraine, and the U.S.

When the case finally reached the World Court in the Hague, Sands chose as the star witness the diminutive Liseby Elyse, now sixty-five years old, and instructed her to appear before the court, speaking in Kreol, to tell the fourteen international judges her story of forced exile. The fate of Chagos rested on her testimony. The judges faced a landmark decision: Would they rule that Britain illegally detached Chagos from Mauritius? Would Liseby Elyse sway the judges and open the door, allowing her and her fellow Chagossians to return home—or would they remain exiled forever?

Philippe Sands writes of his own journey into international law and that of the World Court in the Hague, and of the extraordinary decades-long quest of Liseby Elyse, and the people of Chagos, in their fight for justice and a free and fair return to the idyllic land of their birth. Sands will be joining us on the Busboys stage to share Liseby Elyse’s story and his journey doing it. Copies of the book will be available for purchase during and after the event, and Sands will be signing following the program.

This event is free and open to all. Our program begins at 6:00 pm, and will be followed by an audience Q&A. Copies of THE LAST COLONY will be available for purchase before and after the event. Please note that this event is in person and will not be livestreamed.

We ask that guests RSVP in order to receive direct updates about the event from Busboys and Poets Books

Philippe Sands is professor of law at the University of London, the Samuel Pisar Visiting professor at Harvard Law School, and the author of East West Street and The Ratline. He is a frequent commentator on CNN and the BBC World Service, and a litigator before international courts. He is the former president of English PEN. In 2003 Sands was appointed a Queen’s Counsel. He lives in London, England.

Olivier Bancoult is chair and co-founder of the Chagos Refugees Group. For forty years, under the leadership of Bancoult and a group of powerful women elders, the Chagos Refugees Group has promoted the welfare, interests, and rights of the exiled Chagossian people. Bancoult and other Chagossians have been living in exile since the US and UK governments expelled them from their homeland, the Chagos Islands, in the 1960s and 1970s to make way for a US military base on the island of Diego Garcia. Bancoult, an electrician by training, has gained international acclaim for leading the struggle for Chagossians’ right to return home, earning him the title of “Nelson Mandela” of the Chagossian people. For more than 25 years, Bancoult has waged a legal battle against the US and UK governments, winning historic victories in British courts and the International Court of Justice. Bancoult also has represented the Chagossians in London and Washington, DC, at the United Nations and the Vatican, and at numerous international forums in Africa, Asia, and Europe. 

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