02 September 2014

UN Anti Racial Discrimination Committee addresses Okinawa militarisation

The United Nations asks the Japanese government to respect Okinawan people’s opposition against the Henoko relocation plan


Ryukyu Shimpo
The United Nations asks the Japanese government to respect Okinawan people's opposition against the Henoko relocation plan
August 21, at the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva, Switzerland, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) commented that Okinawan people's will should be respected regarding U.S. military policies.



August 22, 2014 Tsuyoshi Arakaki of Ryukyu Shimpo
On August 20 and 21, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) investigated on racial discrimination in Japan. They also discussed policies on the U.S. military bases in Okinawa. One of the committee members pointed out that it is important to discuss with the local people and get their agreement on the planned construction of a new base in the Henoko district of Nago City for replacement of U.S. Marine Corps Futenma Air Station. Another said that local residents should be involved in the decision making. The committee will announce its final remarks and release an advisory report by the end of the month. One of the committee members stressed that the rights of Okinawan people to access traditional land and resources should be recognized and guaranteed. Another claimed that residents should be included in the decision-making process for policies that might affect their rights. They agreed that there should be local participation at the early stages of decision-making, especially regarding the U.S. military base issues.
Meanwhile at the opening of the meeting, a representative of the Japanese government said, “The residents of Okinawa and natives of Okinawa Prefecture are given and protected by legal equality with Japanese nationals under the Japanese Constitution.” The Japanese government presented their view that the economic gap between the mainland Japan and Okinawa has reduced, and that Okinawa has steadily developed in industry. They expressed respect for the prefecture’s initiative in implementing measures and policies since the Okinawan Promotion Planning policy, previously led by the state, was handed over to the prefecture.
To the Japanese government which does not recognize Okinawan people as “Indigenous People,” one of the committee members pointed out that it is important to consider how people in the Ryukyus identify and define themselves. Another pointed out UNESCO recognizes that Ryukyu/Okinawa has unique language, culture, and tradition and urges the Japanese government to recognize and protect such uniqueness. There have also been many inquiries about policies to protect Ryukyuan languages (Shimakutuba). A representative of the Japanese government asserted, “Those who live in Okinawa Prefecture or natives of Okinawa are not generally considered to be a group of people who share distinct biological or cultural characteristics. Therefore, they are not considered to be the subject of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.”
One of the committee members claimed the Ryukyu Kingdom’s long relationship with Ming and Qing Chinese dynasties, the history of annexation of the Ryukyu Kingdom in 1879 and assimilation policies promoted by the Japanese government all verify the indigeneity of Okinawans. He said it was wrong that Japan does not recognize this. Another said the Japanese government should respect Okinawan people’s will and guarantee their rights in light of this history.
(English translation by T&CT and Megumi Chibana)

See also:


U.S. military takes 1st step in Okinawa relocation

Marine Corps Times

Anti-U.S. base protesters in canoe are blocked Thursday by a Japan Coast Guard speed boat in Nago, Okinawa. Japanese officials said buoys are being floated off the southernmost island of Okinawa in one of the first steps in the relocation of an American military base. The buoys define the area where the construction will begin on a facility in coastal Henoko that will house the Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, which will be relocated from a crowded residential area of Okinawa.
Anti-U.S. base protesters in canoe are blocked Thursday by a Japan Coast Guard speed boat in Nago, Okinawa. Japanese officials said buoys are being floated off the southernmost island of Okinawa in one of the first steps in the relocation of an American military base. The buoys define the area where the construction will begin on a facility in coastal Henoko that will house the Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, which will be relocated from a crowded residential area of Okinawa. (AP)
  • FILED UNDER
In this aerial photo, workers in boats set up no-go zone Thursday in the sea off Nago, Okinawa. The buoys define the area where the construction will begin on a facility in coastal Henoko that will house the Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, which will be relocated from a crowded residential area of Okinawa. (AP)
TOKYO — Buoys were being floated off the southernmost island of Okinawa Thursday in one of the first steps in the long-planned but highly contentious relocation of an American military base.
The buoys define the area where preparations for construction will begin on a facility in coastal Henoko that will house the Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, which will be relocated from a crowded residential area of Okinawa.
Okinawa houses the majority of U.S. troops in Japan. Protests against the bases have been going on for decades. Aircraft noise, crashes and crime are among the frequent complaints.
The Japanese Defense Ministry confirmed the placing of buoys began Thursday but declined to give details, citing security concerns. Public broadcaster NHK showed protesters on boats being blocked by patrol boats, and others holding up signs outside the U.S. base saying “No new base.”
Opponents say majority of people are opposed to the construction, which some say would endanger the coral reef, tropical fish and other ocean life.
Land reclamation is needed for an airstrip to be built over the water from Camp Schwab, a U.S. military base. The buoys mark the location where boring of the seabed will take place for a government study to prepare for construction.
Japanese media reports said the drilling could start as early as this weekend. The Defense Ministry declined comment. The U.S. military also had no immediate comment on the activities Thursday.
Many Okinawans want the U.S. off the island entirely, but public opinion is divided with Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima backing the plan.
The Marines’ relocation to Henoko is part of a broader plan to consolidate and reduce the U.S. military presence in Okinawa. Previous efforts to implement the move have stalled. The U.S. and Japan agreed on the plan in 1996.
The administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has repeatedly said the plan is important for the crucial alliance with the U.S. amid territorial disputes with China and the nuclear threat from North Korea.
But Susumu Inamine, the mayor of Nago, where Henoko is located, noted his reelection earlier this year underlines the people’s opposition to the plan.
He said assessments on environmental damage were not thorough enough, and accused the government of forcing the issue.
“Pushing forward with this tramples on the human rights of the people, and the rich diverse natural life of this region. This is no longer about democracy,” Inamine said in a statement.

74 percent of Okinawan people oppose the Henoko relocation




[Editorial] Abe administration signals future reign of terror in Henoko



The government is controlling the residents by force in Henoko, Nago. As far as we know, the government has never unleashed such reckless disregard of the will of the people, as we have seen at Henoko. The Ministry of Defense installed salvage barges in the sea of Henoko for undersea drilling for building an air base to replace Marine Corps Air Station Futenma.

The government has clamped down on the resistance in the past. However, 74 percent of Okinawan people oppose the Henoko relocation. We wonder if there has ever been a case like this, where the government has trampled on the will of the overwhelming majority of people in the prefecture elsewhere in Japan. This action by the government evokes memories of the crackdown against peasants during the Edo period.

The same repression also took place in Japan’s annexation of the Ryukyu Kingdom and the Battle of Okinawa. Japan’s annexation of the Ryukyu Kingdom is called “Ryukyu Shobun” or disposal of the Ryukyu Kingdom, in 1879. In 1944 during the Battle of Okinawa, the Japanese military in Okinawa issued a decree that “the military, the bureaucracy and the people will all live as one, and die as one.” Okinawan people were forced to commit mass suicide. This history is a form of structural discrimination against Okinawan people, if such incidents have never taken place elsewhere in Japan. This is a barbaric action by the government, and so shameful if the international community just stands by.

Government ignores provisions of the Constitution

In Henoko, the government has responded with an attitude that they will allow physical force, even injury on residents who are against the government. They have shown their hostility and malice towards the residents. We have felt empty and completely discouraged. Particularly, the Japan Coast Guard showed its hard-line stance,. They asserted, “to ensure safety.” It is a quite ridiculous pretence. On August 15, crew-members of the coast guard removed a protester forcibly. At that time, his broken glasses cut his face. This is ironic because they caused injury to a resident despite saying they were removing him for his safety.

For the first time in the 18-year saga of the Henoko relocation plan, the government has unilaterally set up an always-off-limits water area in Oura Bay without any legal basis. This is a method employed by the government to deprive the residents of the right to access the sea. It is the same as that used by rulers during the Edo period. The coast guard has detained citizens outside of the off-limits area without showing legal basis. They gave a warning to residents who were sailing from a fishing port to protest against the work. They threatened, speaking in loud voices, the residents who were approaching the off-limits area. The Constitution provides that “no person shall be deprived of liberty without due process of law.” The coast guard has also violated Article 35 of the Constitution that provides for the principle of warrant. Thus, Japan is not a law-abiding country.

These acts are questionable on a legal basis. Who are outlaws of the sea, the residents or the coast guard? We suppose the Japan Coast Guard had better change its name to the “Security Service for construction of US military base” in the future. We know the efforts made by the 11th Regional Coast Guard Headquarters to win credibility from the residents after Okinawa’s reversion to Japan in 1972. They are now appear to be trashing the credibility of the organization in Henoko, in just a few days. We would like the coast guard to know the reality of Okinawa. Even so, there is an irony about the saga on the sea of Henoko.

The Ministry of Defense, Japan, safeguards the U.S. forces, which is the strongest military power in the world. The Japan Coast Guard and the police protect the Ministry of Defense. Security of a private company are placed on the front line. People who are supposed to hold the power and interests involving national defense, including diplomatic and defense officials, are observing the conflict between the residents and the security guards from a safe heigh.

A sacrifice stone to protect mainland Japan again

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reportedly cross-examined defense officials about why the construction work was delayed and strongly urged them to accelerate the work. This is revealed in a new report by a lawmaker close to the prime minister. According to the report, the Falklands war waged by the U.K. in South America, boosted the flagging support rate for the Thatcher cabinet. The Abe administration appears to have learned from historical precedents in which state leaders acquired their centripetal forces by fuelling nationalism. Prime Minister Abe has taken a tough stance against China over the disputed Senkaku Islands. The Abe administration is determined to build a new air base in Henoko to get the U.S. forces involved in the Senkaku Islands dispute. They are sacrificing beautiful nature, land, and the safety of Okinawa as a tribute to the United States to gain its favour.

A perspective of Henoko reminds us of a strategy employed by the Japanese Imperial Army during the Battle of Okinawa. They made use of Okinawa, a “sacrifice stone” in order to postpone the decisive battle in mainland Japan. This strategy destroyed Okinawa. The coast guard has prevented the boats hired by news media from approaching the waters. The government is trying to punish the people who access information that it does not want to let them knowThis is a step forward to the reign of terror. The landfill approval by Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima has led to this confusion. His approval of the landfill permit has no legitimacy because he acted contrary to his pledge for the election. The government should stop the work in Henoko immediately if Japan is a democratic country. In the gubernatorial election in November, candidates should ask voters whether they approve or disapprove construction of the air base in Henoko.


*****



By KAZUO YAMAGISHI/ Staff Writer


NAGO, Okinawa Prefecture--With the government moving quickly on the planned relocation of Air Station Futenma to the Henoko district, about 3,600 demonstrators occupied the street in front of U.S. Marine Corps Camp Schwab here in a massive protest on Aug. 23.

To oppose the start of exploration drilling in the waters off Camp Schwab for land reclamation for a new runway, protesters lined the road for hundreds of meters. They chanted in unison, “Stop the construction of the new base” and “Stop the exploration drilling.”

The event was organized by local peace groups and opposition groups in the prefectural assembly, which brought participants to Nago in more than 30 chartered buses.

Okinawan legislators and peace campaign leaders gave impassioned speeches against the base relocation.

“We must open a new chapter of history by refusing the creation of a base that we Okinawans oppose,” one of the speakers said.

The speakers also repeatedly criticized Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima for giving the green light to the relocation of Futenma to Henoko, backing off his earlier pledge to demand the Futenma base be relocated outside the prefecture.

Nago Mayor Susumu Inamine, a staunch opponent of the Futenma relocation within Okinawa, said Okinawans must never give up the fight, because it is high time for them to demonstrate their spirit to the rest of the Japanese.

01 September 2014

U.S. Virgin Islands’ Economy Shrinks for Third Consecutive Year



The estimates of Gross Domestic Product for the U.S. Virgin Islands show that real GDP, adjusted to remove price changes, decreased 5.4 percent in 2013. This was the third consecutive decline following decreases of 13.8 percent in 2012 and 7.5 percent in 2011.

worldatlas.com
The 2013 decline in the Virgin Islands economy reflected decreases in exports of goods and in consumer spending. The decrease in exports of goods reflected the decline of the petroleum refining industry that for many years had played a dominant role in the economy. The Hovensa oil refinery, one of the world’s largest oil refineries, shut down operations on St. Croix in early 2012.


READ THE FULL REPORT HERE

29 August 2014

Anguilla, Curacao commemorate respective historical emancipation movements

ANGUILLA REMEMBERS 
SLAVE ANCESTORS IN AUGUST REVELRY

For the first time there has been a concerted effort in Anguilla to bring about an awareness of the relationship between August Monday as part of the holiday week of revelry, known as the Summer Festival, or Carnival, and Emancipation – the abolition of slavery in the British colonies, including Anguilla in 1834.


As Anguilla prepared for the main week of festivities and boat-racing, in celebration of forty years of carnival on the island, Sunday, August 3, was observed as Emancipation Sunday. Bethel Methodist Church, at South Hill, where the original church building was built by slaves, was the scene of a special service with reflections on the African slaves who were brought to the Caribbean and the degradation they suffered. The church’s senior choir set the tone for the order of service with several negro-spiritual songs; and Rev Dr Wycherley Gumbs mainly apportioned his sermon to slavery and emancipation as well.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE IN THE ANGUILLIAN



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Amigoe

WILLEMSTAD, CURACAO — On Sunday August 17th, the monument at Rif was the scene of action of the commemoration of the slave rebellion led by Tula in the year 1795. 

Since 1984, August 17th has been commemorated by the Curaçao Government as Dia di Lucha pa Libertat, Day of the Struggle for Freedom.

On Sunday, it was exactly 219 years ago that the slaves on the island revolted. The theme of the commemoration of this year was patriotism, the key to building our nation. According to the organizers of the memorial service, theAsosiashon Promoshon KonsenshiIstóriko, Plataforma Sklabitut and Herensia di Sklabitut, the theme was chosen because slaves fought for their freedom in 1795 and now, years later, this should be viewed as an important step on the road to the emancipation of the people and the construction of a new Curaçao.

During the commemoration at the park Parke Lucha pa Libertat at Rif, there was an extensive program of performances by various cultural groups. In text and sound, the performers dwelt upon the events of 219 years ago. The traditional speeches were again pronounced by Culture Minister Irene Dick [Pueblo Soberano].



28 August 2014

Dependencies, Autonomous Countries eligible to participate in U.N. Small Islands Conference

A formal role for non-independent countries is consistent with U.N. established practice since the Earth Summit in 1992, and is in furtherance of their economic, social and constitutional advancement.



United Nations



Apia, Samoa (1-4 September 2014)

List of speakers

Inscription on the list of speakers for the plenary meetings (item 8 of the provisional agenda, “General debate”) of the third International Conference on Small Island Developing States (Monday, 1 to Thursday, 4 September 2014, Apia, Samoa), pursuant to General Assembly resolution 68/238, is open.

All delegations (all States Members of the United Nations or members of specialized agencies or of the International Atomic Energy Agency, and the European Union, in its capacity as observer) wishing to inscribe in the general debate, in accordance with General Assembly resolutions 67/207 and 68/238, are kindly requested to contact the Secretariat, in writing, by e-mail (Ms. Mary Muturi (muturi@un.org)), or telefax (+1 (212) 963-3783) indicating the name and level of the speaker. 

The list of speakers for the plenary meetings will be established on a first-come first served basis with the customary protocol that ensures that Heads of States or Government speak first, followed by other heads of delegation. It is proposed that a time limit of five minutes be established for each statement. Delegations are requested to provide 20 copies of their statement to the conference officers in the meeting room. Delegations wishing to have their statement posted on the Conference website are encouraged to e-mail their statement to the secretariat beforehand to the following e-mail address: papersmart3@un.org.

In addition to representatives of States participating in the Conference and that of the European Union, it is proposed that the representatives of the following may, time permitting and without setting a precedent, make a statement in the plenary meetings:  1) 

(a) intergovernmental organizations and other entities that have received a standing invitation from the General Assembly to participate in the capacity of observer in the sessions and work of all international conferences convened under its auspices (rule 60 of the provisional rules of procedure of the Conference);
(b) Associate members of regional commissions (Rule 61)

(c) specialized agencies and related organizations (rule 62); 

(d) other intergovernmental organizations (rule 63); and (e) interested United Nations organs (rule 63). Representatives of intergovernmental organizations, entities, associated members of regional commissions, specialized agencies and related organizations and interested United Nations organs may also contact the secretariat to be inscribed in the list of speakers.


____________________________
1/ The precedent for participation in United Nations (U.N.) world conferences as well as special sessions of the U.N. General Assembly, including addressing these conferences and sessions, is a long established practice as evidenced by participation in virtually all such U.N. proceedings since the United Nations Conference on Environment and development (UNCED) in 1992. A Study commissioned by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) outlines the historic legislative authority for this participation. 



SEE ALSO: 

The Vulnerability Of Caribbean SIDS To Be Discussed By A High Level Panel In Samoa

27 August 2014

More corruption charges filed against Tahiti's often convicted president Gaston Flosse


Tahiti's President Flosse charged with misuse of power

PAPE'ETE, Tahiti --- French Polynesia's president, Gaston Flosse, has been charged with misuse of power in the way he awarded a US$55 million contract a decade ago to build Tahiti's new hospital.


This comes after another day of interrogations in a long-running probe.

Flosse is alleged to have given the contract to build the Taaone hospital without calling tenders to a company whose owner then sold a stake in a hotel to Flosse's son at a low price.

The two were charged over the arrangement in February.


Before meeting the investigators, Flosse's lawyer already asked for corruption charges to be dropped, should they be laid.

Last month, Flosse was stripped of his political offices in a French supreme court ruling for corruption, but he remains in office because the French government has refused to serve him the verdict to make it official.

Flosse has asked Francois Hollande for a presidential pardon so that he can stay in power.
.

25 August 2014

U.S. confirms absolute Congressional control over its "territory or other property",i.e. the U.S. unincorporated territories

"The legal position of the Obama Administration on the limitations of the non self-governing status of the territories under United States (U.S.) administration is consistent with the policy of every previous U.S. president in recent memory, regardless of political party. I wonder when our leaders will get the message, and develop the political will to take the necessary steps to begin a true process of self-determination.. Our people deserve the opportunity to choose a true democratic political status, rather than the present modernized colonialism which is, indeed, an abomination."  - a territorial scholar. 

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DOJ: Congress has ‘full and complete’ legislative authority over territories

By CB Online Staff
                

The U.S. Department of Justice has reaffirmed Puerto Rico’s status as an unincorporated territory of the United States in a legal brief filed in a lawsuit by American Samoa residents who say people born in the unincorporated U.S. territory should automatically receive U.S. citizenship.

In addition, the Department of Justice reiterated that Congress has “full and complete” legislative authority over the territories, and that only “fundamental” constitutional rights are guaranteed in the territories.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) specifically says that Congress has the legislative discretion to grant privileges to those born in the territories, including U.S. citizenship, but that the Supreme Court has never held that Congress must bestow the same privileges upon those born in the territories that the U.S. Constitution bestows on those born in the 50 states.

“The law is crystal clear. Contrary to the baseless arguments put forward by some politicians on the island, Puerto Rico is an unincorporated territory of the United States,” Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi said.

“This status is unequal and undemocratic, and is the principal source of our severe economic problems,” he added in a statement. “If Puerto Rico wants to move forward, it has only two choices: it can become a state or a sovereign nation.”

If Puerto Rico were to become a sovereign nation, whether fully independent from the U.S. or in free association with the U.S., future generations of island residents will not be American citizens and Puerto Rico will receive reduced federal support, according to Pierluisi, the island’s lone member of Congress and president of the statehood New Progressive Party.

The Department of Justice’s brief was filed in Tuaua v. United States, a case pending in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

As previously reported by CARIBBEAN BUSINESS online, the case was dismissed by a U.S. District Court judge in the nation’s capital in June 2013. The plaintiffs, five American Samoa residents, appealed the ruling.

U.S. District Judge Richard Leon ruled last year that the 14th Amendment’s citizenship clause doesn’t apply to people born in American Samoa.

Immigration laws classify people born in American Samoa as U.S. nationals, but it’s the only U.S. territory where U.S. citizenship is not a birthright.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Wynne Kelly argued that Congress has the power to determine the naturalization process for potential citizens, and the lawsuit was trying to sidestep that. Kelly represented the federal government and three U.S. State Department officials as defendants.

Eni Faleomavaega, the territory’s non-voting delegate to the U.S. House, filed a brief in 2012 arguing that Congress is the proper venue to decide citizenship, not the courts.

Leon said in his ruling that he agreed with the government’s argument that previous Supreme Court and federal court rulings as well as historical practice trumped the plaintiffs’ assertions.

“Federal courts have held over and over again that unincorporated territories are not included within the citizenship clause, and this court sees no reason to do otherwise,” Leon said.

“To date, Congress has not seen fit to bestow birthright citizenship upon American Samoa, and in accordance with the law, this court must and will respect that choice,” he said.

American Samoa is the only U.S. territory without the birthright of citizenship. Leon said people in the unincorporated territories of Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands got birthright citizenship through various laws years after being acquired by the U.S. That wouldn’t have been necessary if the Constitution granted citizenship to people in unincorporated territories, he said.

The lawsuit’s lead plaintiff, Leneuoti Tuaua, said he doesn’t think the issue should be up to Congress.

“(So) long as American Samoa is U.S. soil, I continue to believe that the Constitution guarantees my family the right to citizenship,” he said.

Faleomavaega said he agrees with the ruling but isn’t opposed to citizenship for American Samoans.

“The decision should be made by the people and not by a court,” he said. “After the people decide they desire citizenship, I can work with Congress on legislation to provide citizenship for persons born in American Samoa.”




Bonaire Foundation shows film on 'Tula', leader of slave rebellion

Special to OTR

Successful week of Rebellion for freedom with Tula in the neighborhoods.


A week long, from Monday to Sunday every night, from Tera Cora to Rincon without missing a single neighborhood, Foundation Nos Kier Boneiru Bek with the objective to build consciousness and commemorating the Slave Rebellion on the 17th of August and led by the national hero Tula, stopped in every neighborhood of Bonaire to present the movie Tula the Rebellion.

The movie presentations in open air were very well attended and the community showed high interest in this real history based story that they finally had the opportunity to experience on Bonaire and on the big screen and has agglomerated around the locations, and when no more chairs were available, standing up, sitting on the ground, in cars, everywhere This was the experience of the shared profound feelings of a people of the same origin and same roots.

The people who experienced this unique opportunity and who saw the presentation showed their gratitude openly after expressing their understanding and self-realization. In the process,  the people made the conscious comparisons with the actual situation of Bonaire after 10-10-10 in recognition that Bonaire is in a similar era but in a modern way. 

We of the Foundation Nos Kier Boneiru Bek are conscious that our power to resist all the actual undesired situations of our people, a essential and fundamental base rests in our common past, where the majority of our people, over 80% are of the same origin, same ancestors, who lived under oppression and inhuman conditions and struggled with their own blood, sweat and tears so today we have rights, which we neglected and regrettably through a lie has surrendered back to our colonizer Holland. 

Our past, our heritage, same language , culture, traditions, norms and values and identity that binds us together as the Bonerian people is the only avenue of unifying, so we can unite, resist and defend ourselves in these difficult times.



Those who do not know their past are condemned to repeat it. Know your past, is to know your rights and makes you strong and empowered with knowledge and information to force a change in your favor and to defend ourselves and our children and stop the invasion and destruction of our identity and our Bonerian people, because our rights are our heritage. And these rights are ours without surrendering our integrity and identity of our Bonerian people in no way, because our welfare and development is our right and responsibility of Holland.

21 August 2014

Self Determination: The Next Phase of Mental Emancipation

A presentation by 

Carlyle G. Corbin 
International Advisor on Governance
on the occasion of 
Emancipation Week 
San Andres Island 
31 July 2014 



Introduction

I wish to thank the members of the Archipelago Movement for Ethnic Native Self-Determination (AMEN-SD) for the kind invitation to join with you here in San Andres to celebrate this important event of the physical emancipation of the ancestors from the crime against humanity known as slavery. 

We shall never forget. 

As you know, emancipation is commemorated not only in San Andres, but in other parts of the Caribbean region and across the globe wherever peoples of African descent were forcibly relocated. 

Whether it was emancipation in the Caribbean from the British in 1834; the Swedish in 1847; the Danish and French in 1848; the Dutch in 1863 -- or whether it was the emancipation in Latin America in the early 1800s, the struggle for freedom was hard fought. We must pay our deep respect to the freedom fighters for their courage and dedication to the course of freedom.

The fight for emancipation of the first peoples of African descent in this hemisphere to win their freedom - the African descendants of Haiti in 1804 - should always serve as a shining beacon of light. We must also recall the courage of the Maroons - those who escaped slavery in Jamaica, St. Croix and elsewhere in the region to build distinct societies. The courage of the ancestors on the island of St. John (Virgin Islands) who leaped over steep cliffs to certain death rather than return to Danish enslavement when their encampments were discovered shall always be remembered.

We shall never forget.

On the occasion of the United Nations General Assembly Special Session commemorating the International Day of Remembrance ofthe Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade in 2013, the Latin American and Caribbean Group statement delivered by Grenada Ambassador Dessima Williams was most profound, and I quote:

"Those who survived this infamous horror known as the Middle Passage were landed in ports throughout Latin America and the Caribbean into an existence of forced labour and systemic cruelty which lasted for generations. Entire economies in much of what is now known as the 'developed world' were literally built on the backs of this involuntary African labour, in large measure. May such an acknowledged crime against humanity never be repeated, in any form or manifestation, in any part of our globe."

We shall never forget.


colonialdiseasedigitaltextbook.wikispaces.com 


Ladies and gentlemen, 


In my presentation today, I will focus on issues related to emancipation in our region. I will seek to examine some relevant international developments at the United Nations which I hope would shed some light on how countries around the world views the relevance of emancipation today. I will close by looking at issues of self-determination which for many of us in the non-independent Caribbean remains the logical next phase of emancipation. As was the case with physical emancipation, self-determination is a goal to be pursued, and definitely attained.

The Regional Context


I begin with the observation that amongst the descendants of enslaved Africans in the Caribbean, San Andres (Saint Andrew), Providencia (Providence), and Santa Catalina (Saint Katherine) are unique and also familiar. Unique because you have emerged into a post - emancipation period on the basis of your own specific geography and strategic positioning in the western Caribbean. And familiar because this is a condition experienced in other parts of the region as well.

What is also familiar is that, as in the case of most dependencies, there appears little evidence that there has been a formal process of self-determination. This is not uncommon in the non-independent Caribbean as many of the territories have yet to undertake such a process - certainly not the British dependencies whose constitutional orders provide for the continuation of unilateral power over them by a distant cosmopole. Certainly not for the U.S. territories such as Puerto Rico or my own U.S. Virgin Islands where there have been only inconclusive results such as the various referenda in Puerto Rico, and the singular political status exercise in the U.S. Virgin Islands several decades ago along with the more recent aborted attempt to draft a local constitution. 



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The non-independent Caribbean has also witnessed the break-up of the former Netherlands Antilles in 2010 producing a model of lesser autonomy for two of the islands, and a form of partial integration for the other three. Such governance models are incomplete, and do not represent the requisite full measure of self-government on the basis of internationally recognised standards. Bonaire in the southern Caribbean, and Sint Eustatius in the northeastern part of the region, are currently in the process of considering new political status referenda in order to articulate the will of their people towards full self-government. 

Through it all, the strategic positioning of all of our territories has always been a key factor evident for much of the wider region, whether it is here in the Western Caribbean, or in the eastern, northern and southern parts of the region. This is clear from examining the centuries of conflict between assorted European powers fighting for domination, control and strategic advantage. The results of these historic rivalries have placed much of the Caribbean in peculiar political, social, economic and cultural circumstances, some 15 years into this 21st Century. 

So, it is not surprising that the stated international commitment to the self-determination and political evolution of peoples, contained in the United Nations Charter and relevant human rights conventions, has waned. Our territories are now experiencing a heightened competition for the control of the remaining resources of the world - be it fisheries, offshore gas and oil, strategic undersea minerals, and more. This geo-economic rivalry is being played out throughout the world including the dependencies. 

This is clearer in the non-independent Pacific region, probably because the resource base is far greater. French Polynesia, for example, has over 5 million square kilometres of marine resources which according to international law are supposed to belong to the people of the territory. However, the French have thus far dismissed the applicability of international law to the self-determination process of that territory in a bid to claim those resources. For some large states, international law is applied only when it is in their interest to do so. Yet, these very states are the ones which preach to the rest of the world that they must adhere to the "rule of law." 

Issues of resources are also evident in the Caribbean, as well, including the stubborn retention of empire by the British in the Malvinas Islands and the offshore oil reserves. The implications to the fisheries resources of the Western Caribbean in view of the International Court of Justice (ICOJ) decision on the maritime dispute between Columbia and Nicaragua also comes to mind in relation to the traditional fishing grounds of the Raizal fishing industry.

All of this brings to mind the perspective of the late Guyanese political historian Dr. Walter Rodney who analysed in his seminal work "How Europe Underdeveloped Africa" the strategic drawing of borders in Africa without regard for the interests of the African people. In my view, the retention of the artificial colonial borders has contributed to much of the conflict and underdevelopment on the African continent - underdevelopment which is now being exacerbated for many by the impact of climate change and the increasing unpredictability of weather patterns with significant effect on agriculture.

Perhaps had Dr. Rodney not been assassinated in his native Guyana, the title of his next book would have been "How Europe Underdeveloped the Caribbean." This would have given us important insight into the historic practice of artificial borders drawn by the European powers to meet their own interests, rather than those of the people. We continue to live with the implications of these decisions, taken by others in their own interest.

Rodney has joined the ancestors. His work challenges us to further develop those insights. The struggle continues. We will not forget.

If there is one thing that is clear in all of this, it is that the Caribbean is the most politically complex of any region in the world in such a small space. The political composition of the non-independent Caribbean is the result of centuries of European conflict for economic and strategic advantage carved up with little regard for the indigenous peoples who happened to be living there. As the late Jamaican Professor Rex Nettleford wrote, it was "a fight for land space leading to wars and rumours of wars over time starting with the newly discovered spaces." 

In the case of the enslaved Africans, entire societies in Europe - and North America - were built by the forced labour of our ancestors who had been transported through the Middle Passage via the Trans-Atlantic slave trade for the economic benefit of one European power or the next. As Nettleford wrote, this was characterised by:

"the systematic dehumanization of an horrendously exploited labour force in the production of commodities for commercial profits as well as by the psychological conditioning of millions into stations of self-contempt bolstered by an enduring racism, underlying rigid class differentiation, and ending up with the habitual violation of human rights."



The British, Spanish, Portuguese, French and Dutch were some of the most widely known perpetrators. The Danish and the Swedish were somewhat lesser known - not because their brand of enslavement was any less brutal, but perhaps because of their capacity to minimise their role in the historical record.

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Denmark, for example, controlled the Danish West Indies for almost three centuries before selling the islands to the United States in 1917 - for military strategic reasons. We are now the U.S. Virgin Islands - a people, as in the case of other Caribbean dependencies - who have yet to exercise the right to self-determination. It is only through scholars like the late Jamaican professor Dr. Neville Hall that we understand the full dynamic of Danish colonialism in the Caribbean. At the same time, Sweden also practiced slavery in Saint Barthelemy (St. Barts) - not a widely known fact, as it turns out.But large or small, they all benefited from their role in the "crime against humanity" known as slavery.

For the Caribbean, we must always recall that emancipation ushered in the era of colonialism which, in many respects, merely perpetuated a refined form of what had formerly prevailed under slavery. Thus, the anti-colonial struggle was born as a logical outgrowth of the emancipation struggle. Many of the Caribbean countries succeeded by attaining independence or other acceptable forms of self-government. For the rest of us, our political evolution remains very much a work in progress. In this year - 2014 - we should never forget that full emancipation did not come with the abolition of slavery.

Thus, self-determination is the next phase of emancipation, and the result of that process can take several forms - as long as those forms provide for political equality in conformity with international law. To achieve this, we must continually remind the international community of its international legal commitment to complete the unfinished business of the self-determination of peoples, including indigenous peoples.

But even among those Caribbean countries which progressed politically to independence, the after-effects of slavery remain evident, and have impeded sustainable human development. Many of the newly independent countries were born without sufficient preparation, and had insufficient economic strength at the outset since their economies had been ravaged during the colonial periods. This is not surprising since their economies were based on a colonial model to produce for export to the colonial power - not to produce for the well being of the people in the territory itself. This is the legacy of slavery, and the adjustments are still being made in many independent Caribbean countries. 

On this point, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) has begun an initiative to bring justice to compensate for the legacy of the crime of slavery. This initiative is focused upon those European states which practiced this crime against humanity in our region. This leads to the next part of this presentation: the international context.

The International Context

The fourteen independent countries of CARICOM have historically been at the forefront of international initiatives to bring to light the brutality of the slave trade, the plight of the enslaved, and the challenges faced by the survivors. The CARICOM role in the UNESCO Slave Route Project since as far back as 1994 is a tribute to a sober recognition of the past to ensure that our history can no longer be suppressed. 

The seminal United Nations Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia andRelated Intolerance which convened in South Africa in 2001 also witnessed a continued commitment by the Caribbean, in collaboration with Africa, in negotiating the landmark Durban Declaration and Programme of Action. This document remains the guiding principle to redress the human rights violations experienced by our forefathers under slavery, and the stubborn legacy of slavery which remains a significant impediment to the human and sustainable development process in our region requiring effective remedies, reparations and compensation.

Since 2001, CARICOM has accelerated its work in this area through the promotion of a series of activities at the United Nations. One initiative is the "Permanent Memorial to honour victims of slavery and transatlantic slave trade" to be erected at U.N. headquarters in New York. The theme of the memorial is:

"Acknowledging the Tragedy; Considering the Legacy" 

Lest We Forget."

In 2007, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a CARICOM-sponsored resolution designating March 25th each year as the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade. As a result, a wide range of artistic, musical and historical programmes are conducted each year to draw attention to the “causes, consequences and lessons of the transatlantic slave trade, and to communicate the dangers of racism and prejudice.” 

CARICOM was also instrumental in the declaration by the U.N. of the year 2011 as the International Year of Peoples of African Descent aimed at strengthening national action, and regional and international cooperation for the benefit of peoples of African descent. These activities represent recent and sustained cooperation between Caribbean and African countries at the United Nations, linking Africans on the continent with its diaspora in a very meaningful way.

The International Year for Peoples of African Descent was followed by the adoption by the Proclamation of the International Decade for People of African Descent at the end of last year under the theme of “People of African descent: recognition, justice and development.” A draft programme of activities was adopted in Geneva by the Intergovernmental Working Group on the Effective Implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action with input from the Working Group of Peoples of African Descent of the U.N. Human Rights Council. The programme of action is presently the subject of intense consultations at U.N. headquarters in New York where press reports indicate, not surprisingly, a reluctance of the European countries to include reference to the issue of reparations.

Reparatory Justice


To this end, one of the key elements of the agreed theme of the decade is that of "Reparatory Justice". Following decades of hard work by non-governmental organisations including pan-African organisations and in particular the Rastafarian movement, Caribbean governments have become progressively convinced that reparatory justice is necessary for the European countries to atone for the crime of slavery. CARICOM countries have increasingly begun to raise the issue in their official statements to the United Nations. In 2009, for example, the CARICOM statement to the U.N. Third Committee on the agenda item of racial discrimination observed the following:


"We know all too well that when history is forgotten, it is bound to be repeated. Absent clear expressions of remorse for this historic crime against humanity, and the appropriate reparative measures, the international mandate for the promotion of human rights and fundamental freedoms can never meet the threshold of credibility."

The increasing references to reparations by CARICOM heads of government in their official U.N. statements led by the Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and his colleague CARICOM leaders have generated increased momentum. The (former) Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister in his statement to the U.N. General Assembly in 2011 called upon the former slaveholding countries:



"to begin the reconciliation process by issuing formal apologies for the crimes committed by the nations or their citizens over the 400 years of the African slave trade, and to back up their apologies with new commitments to the economic development of the nations that have suffered from this human tragedy."

It is anticipated that the CARICOM leaders will intensify their focus on reparatory justice at the upcoming session of the U.N. Assembly beginning this September in urging the European states to engage in a conversation on remedies. There is also scope for the issue of reparatory justice for the slavery as a human rights violation to be addressed within the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Truth, Justice,Reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence mandated by the Human Rights Council. Other initiatives should also be recognised:


* There is the call by Ban Sampras Pas for reparations from the Netherlands for over 229 years of slavery, and their recognition of the slave revolt in Curacao led by Tula in 1795. A statute of this freedom fighter has been erected in Curacao, and a museum bearing his name exists in the Netherlands.

* There is the demand for compensation made by the Suriname Reparations Committee on past Slavery made to the Dutch Embassy in Paramaribo on the basis of Euro 250 million in profits made on the slave trade.

* There is the establishment of a memorandum of understanding between the African Caribbean Reparations and Resettlement Alliance of St. Croix and the Danish Institute for Human Rights to develop initiatives in education, restoration and reconciliation, historical and other research projects, conferences, lecture series, cultural and other exchanges.


These are but a few of the initiatives for reparatory justice undertaken by civil society throughout the region, and their input into the CARICOM initiative on reparatory justice is especially useful. Reparations, therefore, is not regarded as merely a one-time payment to individuals who are the descendants of enslaved Africans. It is a far more comprehensive approach to the development of societies which had been ravaged by the practice of slavery. 

An interesting parallel between your islands and mine (U.S. Virgin Islands) is that the countries which enslaved our ancestors - the United Kingdom and Denmark - are not the ones with which we maintain a political relationship today. Therefore, in our cases, reparative justice is the responsibility of Britain and Denmark, respectively, whilst the elaboration of further political and constitutional evolution would be the result of the appropriate engagement with Colombia and the United States. Such are the complications of our respective political arrangements specific to our respective island territories.

Recent initiatives for reparatory justice are being further accelerated by Caribbean governments. By decision of 2013, the CARICOM Heads of Government agreed to establish national reparations committees in each CARICOM country, and a region-wide CARICOM Reparations Commission has been formed under the directorship of the eminent Barbadian scholar Sir Hiliary Beckles. CARICOM Heads of government have subsequently adopted the Caribbean Reparatory Justice Programme which includes the following ten points:



* Full Formal apology
* Repatriation
* Indigenous Peoples Development Programme
* Cultural Institutions
* Public Health Crisis
* Illiteracy Education
* African Knowledge Programme
* Psychological Rehabilitation
* Technology Transfer
* Debt Cancellation


In the words of  Nettleford:

"There is arguably a main point of the reparations advocacy - by no means seeking a hand-out of 500 pounds sterling per person to descendants of the oppressed but rather positing serious investment by countries, which have been enriched by the heinous crime of the Slave Trade and Slavery, in the human resource development of countries that suffered, preferably through the education and preparation of their young to enable them to cope with the inheritance of a continuing unjust world."

The Antiguan diplomat and scholar Sir Ron Sanders wrote that:

"In 1838, British slave owners in the English-Speaking Caribbean received £11.6 (US$17.8) billion in today’s value as compensation for the emancipation of their “property” – 655,780 human beings of African descent that they had enslaved, brutalised and exploited. The freed slaves, by comparison, received nothing in recompense for their dehumanisation, their cruel treatment, the abuse of their labour and the plain injustice of their enslavement. The benefits of those monies still exist in Britain today. For example, they are the foundations of Barclays Bank, Lloyds Bank and the Royal Bank of Scotland. But they are also the basis of wealth for many leading British and Scottish families..."


Let there be no doubt of the historical record, and the tremendous financial benefit which built fortunes of others off of centuries of free and involuntary labour. As the late African American writer Amiri Baraka wrote:

"Its time to be paid." 


This leads me to the final part of this presentation - Self-Determination as the final stage of emancipation. 


Self-Determination

The pattern of post-emancipation colonialism in various parts of the Caribbean lasted over a century until the first former-British colonies won their independence in the 1960s through 1980s. These countries joined Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Cuba and (later) Suriname as independent states in the Caribbean. But as I noted earlier, six British dependencies still remain (Bermuda, Turks and Caicos Islands, Cayman Islands, Montserrat, British Virgin Islands and Anguilla), along with the two U.S. territories of Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. There are also several Dutch autonomous territories (Aruba, Curacao and Sint Maarten) and several French and Dutch partially, or fully integrated jurisdictions (Martinique, Guadeloupe, French Guiana / Bonaire, Saba, Statia).




What is clear is that the process of political and constitutional evolution in the Caribbean has not ended as some amazingly argue. Rather, this process has taken on a new 21st century dimension - what the Bermudian writer and political leader Walton Brown refers to as "new millennium colonialism." Thus, for many of us, we have gone from the middle passage - to slavery - to physical (but not mental) emancipation - to varying degrees of dependency status. CARICOM in its 2009 statement on racial discrimination to the United Nations Third Committee made the important observation:


"We...recognise the continuation of contemporary colonialism which continues to be stubbornly practiced in many countries of our region where the inalienable right to self-determination is continually pursued by the people, but not yet attained."

To attain the full self-government which would be the logical conclusion of a genuine process of self-determination - and an inalienable right - the United Nations General Assembly has identified the three options of independence, free association or integration as the alternatives. What is important to emphasise is that dependency governance was not meant to last indefinitely, but rather was designed to prepare the territories for full self-government. This is the mandate of Article 73(b) of the U.N. Charter. This is best done through the systematic devolution of power to democratically elected governments and a serious dialogue on the political future of these entities. 

To determine the best option, a comprehensive assessment of the existing political relationship on the basis of self-governance indicators has proven useful for a number of Caribbean and Pacific territories. These assessments identify the democratic deficiencies in the existing arrangements on the basis of international standards of democratic self-government. From these assessments, determination can be made on the way forward, and negotiations can begin from a position of awareness to advocate for future political modernisation.

In the cases where the territory is listed as non self-governing by the United Nations, the process should proceed under formal and recognised international review - although over the last 15 years or so the U.N. focus on these issues has stalled, and must move from the position of passivity to one of proactivity, consistent with the longstanding international mandate. For those territories not on the U.N. list, a U.N. role would be more complex and other steps would have to be taken. In this context, I am aware of the Raizal petitions to the Human Rights Council in Geneva, the special status recommended by the Special Rapporteur in 2003 and the ongoing discussions surrounding a Raizal Statute.


Left to right:  Jairo Rodriguez Davis of AMEN-SD and Corbin pay courtesy call on Raizal eminent scholar
Juvencio Gallardo during 2014 Emancipation commemoration activities in San Andres.  

But whatever determination is made by the people, the process of political modernisation should move forward. We owe this to those freedom fighters who struggled for our physical emancipation against heavy odds. This week in celebration of emancipation is dedicated to their memory. Their efforts brought our physical emancipation, and a step closer to mental emancipation. The natural outcome of this will be our self-determination. 

This is our responsibility - and is a debt we owe to our future generations - to take these next steps. Robert Nesta Marley left us with the clear message to "emancipate ourselves from mental slavery - (for) none but ourselves can free our minds." 

With mental emancipation, all things are possible.

Again, I wish to thank you for your kind invitation to share this time with you on this most important celebration of emancipation.