By Kamal Haynes, BVI News
Premier Andrew Fahie has put Britain on notice that he will be escalating to the United Nations what he described as an “act of aggression” by Governor Augustus Jaspert towards his government.
The Premier gave that indication in a letter to the UK Minister responsible for Overseas Territories, Baroness Elizabeth Sugg, last Friday, September 25.
Fahie was referring to circumstances that led to Governor Jaspert overriding his government’s wishes and inviting British Royal Naval vessel HMS into the territory to assist the BVI in securing its borders.
Grossly inaccurate misrepresentation
The Premier said he was outraged that the governor had decided to ‘hijack’ the territory’s sea borders through what he described as a “grossly inaccurate and exaggerated misrepresentation” of the BVI’s COVID-19 border security threat as well as its ability to protect its own borders.
“Despite the position of the government of the Virgin Islands being clearly articulated to Governor Jaspert, he proceeded to present a paper at this morning’s National Security Council (NSC) meeting which exaggerated the needs of the BVI to paint a fabricated inaccurate and misleading picture of the state of affairs and capabilities of the territory to justify UK interventions, including military involvement, beyond the scope of what was requested by the territorial government,” the Premier wrote to Baroness Sugg.
He continued: “To describe the BVI’s situation as exasperated and our resources as stretched, as Governor Jaspert has done in his NSC paper, is an exaggeration and grossly misrepresents the state of affairs on the ground. To use this fabricated case to create justification for UK interventions is dishonest.”
Fahie explained that the BVI only had ‘a few incidents of illegal entry and trafficking of humans and illicit items’ that have since been stymied by a local Joint Task Force in partnership with law enforcement authorities from the neighbouring US Virgin Islands.
According to the Premier, the only thing asked of the UK was for it to provide “technical expertise” with regard to maritime surveillance equipment the BVI was procuring to complement its current border protection strategy.
Referring back the aforesaid National Security Council meeting that followed his request for technical expertise, Premier Fahie said: “When asked to amend his NSC paper to more accurately reflect the state of the territory’s affairs and needs, and to keep the UK involvement within the scope of what was requested, Governor Jaspert was adamant that he would not. The meeting ended with the NSC not agreeing to the structure of Governor’s paper following an extended session in which Governor Jaspert’s demeanour became quite aggressive.”
“Neither my government nor I, nor the people of the Virgin Islands, will be tolerating this act of aggression by your governor. We will not be bullied and we will not stay silent,” he added.
“I can assure you that the United Nations will be hearing about the UK Government’s sustained policy of political sabotage of the aspirations of the Virgin Islands people at the next C-24 (the UN’s Special Committee on Decolonization) meeting,” Fahie told Britain, who he accused of being complicit and indulgent of the governor’s actions.
In addition to reporting the matter to the intergovernmental body, Premier Fahie said that he will be sharing the BVI’s experience with the leaders of the other Overseas Territories and Dependencies as well as with the CARICOM neighbours.
Governor’s action could hurt UK-BVI relations
Premier Fahie further said Governor Jaspert’s action directly infringes on the partnership agreement between the UK and the BVI which is based on mutual respect as stated in the territory’s Constitution.
“You and your predecessor Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon have been made aware of his pattern of behaviour over the past 19 months and you have consistently reaffirmed your support for Governor Jaspert’s actions, your confidence in him and that of your Prime Minister and government. You have made it clear that he is carrying out your agenda and that of your Government,” the Premier expressed.
He continued “I must point out that such deliberate malicious actions, especially where it is designed to undermine the sitting government and reinforce Britain’s colonial status quo in the BVI, fall within the classical definition of political sabotage, legitimised and sanctioned by the UK government.”
The premier is hoping that his letter will result in Baroness Sugg reversing Governor Jaspert’s decision to bring the Royal Navy into the territory.