08 May 2013

Churches in Tahiti urge French Polynesia independence steps


Peter Kenny


Members of an ecumenical delegation with President Oscar Manutahi Temaru of French Polynesia in Tahiti during a visit from April 26 to May 1, 2013.

Representatives of churches and Christian organizations worldwide are calling for French Polynesia (Maohi Nui), an area where France does nuclear testing, to be placed on a list of United Nations countries to be decolonized.

In Tahiti, delegates from ecumenical organizations supported this during a meeting with local church leaders, civil society organizations and President Oscar Manutahi Temaru during a visit to French Polynesia from April 26 to May 1.

"The international ecumenical solidarity visit to French Polynesia comes at the right time," said Rev. Francois Pihaatae, general secretary of the Pacific Conference of Churches.

"This is significant in terms of accompanying the EPM [Maohi Protestant Church] and the Maohi people while they are struggling to deal with the critical issue of re-inscription of French Polynesia on the U.N. list," he said.

Members of the ecumenical delegation met President Oscar Manutahi Temaru of French Polynesia in Tahiti during their visit.

The visit was coordinated by the Commission of the Churches on International Affairs of the World Council of Churches in collaboration with the Pacific Conference of Churches and the Maohi Protestant Church.

In 1947 the French government had managed to remove Maohi Nui from the UN list of countries to be decolonized.

The backing from the ecumenical group follows a statement issued by the main governing body of the WCC, its central committee in Greece last year, supporting advocacy on re-inscription of French Polynesia on the UN list.

This WCC statement and the visit were initiated by the EPM, asking for CCIA support on the issue.

The 2012 Synod of the EPM also urged the WCC and the PCC to "support its efforts for advocacy on re-inscription of French Polynesia."

Rev. Taaroanui Maraea, president of the EPM, said that the EPM "considers re-inscription of French Polynesia on this list as means to protect the people from decisions and initiatives taken by the French State contrary to its interests." He noted a decision made at the EPM 2012 Synod.

John Taroanui Doom, WCC president from the Pacific, spoke about the consequences of nuclear testing by France in French Polynesia.

"The problems directly and indirectly linked with the nuclear tests in the past thirty years in the French Polynesia are not yet settled," he said.

"Successive governments in France suppressed the demands from the affected local people and denied people's legitimate demand for the sovereignty of their land and right to self-determination," noted Taroanui Doom.

The meeting organized by the EPM in conjunction with the international ecumenical solidarity team visit, explored the issue re-inscription of French Polynesia and was attended by more than 100 people.

No comments: