A forum for critical analysis of international issues and developments of particular relevance to the sustainable political and socio-economic development of Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs).
31 December 2013
PIP: Estados Unidos reconoce necesidad de cambio en relaciones políticas con Puerto Rico
Posted by Overseas Review at 9:29 PM No comments:
Labels: Caribbean, Congress, Decolonization, independence, Latin America, Puerto Rico, United States
30 December 2013
Cuál es la diferencia entre Nelson Mandela y Oscar López Rivera? / What is the difference between Nelson Mandela and Oscar López Rivera?
Compañeros Unidos para la Descolonización de Puerto Rico
Publicado por José M. López Sierra
El día después de que muere Nelson Mandela, estos 3 presidentes estadounidenses dicen esto.
Presidente Obama: “Yo fui uno de los muchos que me nutrí de la vida de Mandela y su dignidad feroz. Mandela logró más que lo que a ningún hombre se le puede exigir. Mandela transformó a África del Sur, y nos movió a todos”
Presidente George W. Bush: “Mandela fue una de las grandes fuerzas de libertad e igualdad de nuestros tiempos, que toleró sus penas con dignidad y elegancia y el mundo es mejor por eso.”
Presidente Carter: La pasión de Mandela por la libertad y la justicia creó nuevas esperanzas para la gente oprimidas en todo el mundo.”
No hay duda sobre la grandeza de Nelson Mandela, pero muchos han decidido no reconocerle los mismos méritos que tiene nuestro prisionero político puertorriqueño Oscar López Rivera que pelea por lo mismo que peleó Mandela.
Oscar ha estado en la cárcel estadounidense por 32 años por pelear por la descolonización de Puerto Rico. Oscar ya tiene 5 años más tiempo en la cárcel que los 27 años que estuvo Mandela. Bajo la ley internacional, es el gobierno de Estados Unidos (EEUU) que comete el crimen por mantener a Puerto Rico como su colonia por 115 años, y es Oscar que tiene el derecho de usar todos los medios necesarios para descolonizar a su país. La Organización de Naciones Unidas (ONU) le ha pedido a Estados Unidos que descolonice inmediatamente a Puerto Rico en 32 resoluciones. ¡Estados Unidos las ha ignorado todas! Sin embargo, Estados Unidos le gusta criticar rápidamente a los otros países, como África de Sur, por su falta de igualdad y abusos de los derechos humanos. La representante al Congreso de EEUU por Nueva York Nydia Velázquez dijo recientemente que “Estados Unidos no puede exigir al mundo la paz cuando ella misma no lo practica.”
Todo el que cree en lo que dijo el Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. “La injusticia dónde sea es una amenaza a la justicia dónde quiera” debe unirse con nosotros para protestar pacíficamente 2 veces al año hasta descolonizar a Puerto Rico. La primera será en el Día de la Abolición de la Esclavitud al frente del Tribunal de Estado Unidos en Puerto Rico el 22 de marzo de 2014. La segunda protesta será el 16 de junio de 2014 en las Naciones Unidas en Nueva York en el mismo día de su vista anual sobre la descolonización de Puerto Rico. Estas protestas son absolutamente necesarias porque, como ha vista por lo que estos 3 presidente han dicho, ellos rehúsan reconocer que su país no practica lo que predica. ¡Por lo tanto, debemos todos estar totalmente convencidos que, aquellos que practican o aceptan el coloniaje no creen en la justicia para todos!
The day after Nelson Mandala’s death, 3 United States (US) presidents said this.
President Obama: “I was one of the millions of countless people who drew from Mandela’s life and his fierce dignity. Mandela achieved more than could be expected of any man. Mandela transformed South Africa and moved all of us.”
President George W. Bush: “Mandela was one of the great forces for freedom and equality of our times, who bore his burdens with dignity and grace, and our world is better off because of it.”
President Carter: “Mandela’s passion for freedom and justice created new hope for generations of oppressed people worldwide.”
There is no question about the greatness of Nelson Mandela, but many choose to ignore those very same merits of Oscar López Rivera who fights for the same ideals of equality and human rights that Mandela fought for.
Oscar López Rivera has been imprisoned for 32 years by the government of the United States for fighting for the decolonization of Puerto Rico. This is already 5 years more than the time Nelson Mandela spent in prison. Under international law, it is the government of the United States that commits the crime for having Puerto Rico as its colony for 115 years, and it is Oscar who has the right to decolonize his country using whatever means necessary! The United Nations has asked the United States to immediately decolonize Puerto Rico in 32 resolutions. The US has ignored them all! But, the US is quick to criticize other nations, like South Africa, for their lack of equality and human rights abuses. US Representative to Congress of New York NydiaVelázquez said recently, “The United States has no right to demand peace in the world, when she herself does not practice it.”
Everyone who believes what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” should join us in 2 peaceful protests a year until Puerto Rico is decolonized. The first protest will be on the Abolition of Slavery Day in front of the United States Court in Puerto Rico on March 22, 2014. The second protest will be on June 16, 2014 outside the United Nations (UN) in New York City on the same day that the UN holds its annual hearing about Puerto Rico decolonization. These peaceful protests are absolutely necessary because, as you can see from the expressions made by these three US presidents, they don’t want to accept that the United States government does not practice what it preaches. It should be abundantly clear to everyone that those who practice or accept colonialism don’t believe in justice for all!
Posted by Overseas Review at 12:10 AM 1 comment:
Labels: Caribbean, Colonialism, human rights conventions, human rights defender, human rights violations, independence, Latin America, Puerto Rico, Self-Determination, United Nations, United States
27 December 2013
France ordered to reopen Moruroa nuclear compensation case
|A 1971 photo of a nuclear bomb detonated by the French government|
at the Mururoa atoll, French Polynesia. (AP Photo)
A court in French Polynesia has directed France to re-open a compensation case involving for a woman with cancer, which she claims is linked to French nuclear tests.
The French Compensation Commission rejected the claim, arguing the risk posed by tests on Moruroa Atoll was negligible.
But the Polynesian court says the Commission failed to research the woman's circumstances, and now it's set a six month deadline for it to complete a re-examination.
Ronald Oldham, president of the Nuclear Test Veterans Association, Moruroa e tatou says it is not unusual for compensation cases rejected by Ministry of Defence to be re-opened and the delays mean many victims pass away during the court process and never see compensation.
Presenter: Richard Ewart
Speaker: Ronald Oldham, president, Nuclear Test Veterans Association, Moruroa e tatou
OLDHAM: There's a lot of cases like that, not only the court in Polynesia, but also even around France. A lot of the compensation case has been rejected by the Ministry of Defence, a lot victims went to court and the judgement of the court say that the decision of the Ministry of Defence is not a good one. They should not reject this compensation. But the problem is which mean we have to go back to zero, start again, and Committee to examine and compensation will get hold of the file again and it's going to take another years, another two years, because this particular case already been three years and have been rejected and went to court, so the decision of the court give us we want this court case, which mean we have to go back to zero, start all over again, which is not a good thing for the victim.
It seems to us it's very clear that this system that's been put in place by the French government is to delay and delay and delay as much as possible and we go round and round for the past ten years, we go from court to court and the compensation is still not a reality for the victim, which is very critical for us, because a lot of the victims are dead by now and a lot of them are sick and the more they're dying, the less cases left for the victim or for the family to go for compensation and also there's a lot of discouragement for the victim themself, so it's very hard for us.
EWART: Can I ask Ronald, I mean does precedence play a part at all in any of these compensation cases or is each compensation case treated as if there'd never been any others?
OLDHAM: There has been a couple where we have won the cases we find finally, only four for the Polynesian people and which is very low, because we had 30 years of nuclear testing and thousand and thousand of people had been working on the site,and the workers as I said before, a lot of them are dying and the fall out have been over 300 fallout, all over Polynesia and all the island had been touched by the fallout, even Tahiti. There has been over 30 on Tahiti himself. And so which is for us the result this low compensation is just not good at all. It just the French government just dragging on, dragging on, make it longer and I must say a lot of the victim have abandoned, because they don't believe in this court, in this justice.
EWART: But Ronald, can I ask, from a legal stand point, you say that there have been some cases which have been successful. Surely the evidence presented in those successful cases must play a part in the cases that come after that, which is the reason why I was I asking about precedence. I mean if a court has ruled that some people were affected by nuclear fallout, logically you would think that as other cases came on, that go in their favour, but seemingly not?
OLDHAM: No, it's not like that, because they examine every case, case by case, individually, and it takes years for one cases. No, it's not normally as you say, logically if one or two or three person have had a cancer and be recognised by the court, by the Committee of compensation as good. It should be good for everybody, for a lot of people that those are in a similar situation, but it's not like that. They make it that every case, you have to fill up your file, every cases have to be examined and then one Committee at the end decided yes or no. I must tell you that on almost 800 files, that went through this Committee for decision, only eleven have had positive decision. I'm talking about the whole of France, all the French military, and the workers. Only eleven on 800 and that's four years it's been going on for this Committee and that's very slow, just too slow as I was saying before.
EWART: So, are we reaching the point now where those that are still left to go through the courts, may just decide to give up and it's just not worth the effort anymore?
OLDHAM: A lot of them, no, of our people thinking like that and we're still battling on the political level, which mean in the Senate in France, to have this law changed, but it seems to me that when it comes to nuclear compensation and the Socialist Party or the Right Party have the same attitude. There's an attitude of to me for denying, denying our right, the right of the victims, and the whole thing is very hypocritical. I mean the all the head of government all rush to South Africa to honour the death of Mandela, and all this sort of thing, while in they're own country, they don't recognise the right, the minimum right to their own victim. We've been battling for years and years and we still at the stage where it is very negative as far as the result are concerned.
We really asking ourself what do we have to do to get proper justice.
Posted by Overseas Review at 8:21 PM No comments:
Labels: environment, France, French overseas territories, French Polynesia, human rights violations, indigenous peoples, Ma'ohi Nui, non self-governing territories, nuclear testing, radiation, reparation
23 December 2013
France has international legal responsibility to decolonise French Polynesia
France told it can’t ignore French
Polynesia’s decolonisation push
Radio New Zealand International
French Polynesia’s pro-independence party says it is unacceptable for France to ignore the United Nations stance on the territory’s decolonisation.
A further UN General Assembly resolution has asked France to enter a dialogue with the people of French Polynesia to rapidly set up a self-determination process.
Tahiti’s pro-independence leader, Oscar Temaru, says the UN position is a victory for his side.
|picture by lejdd.fr|
OSCAR TEMARU: I’d like to say it’s a great victory for us, who have been fighting for the right to self-determination since - my first trip to New York was in 1978 and last May 17th the United Nations has adopted that resolution to replace Tahiti on the list under the oversight of the committee of decolonisation.
And from there the Fourth Committee has adopted an order resolution and now it is adopted by the General Assembly, which means the majority of countries throughout the world are asking France to assume its responsibility towards one of its colonies, which is French Polynesia.
The attitude of France is well known to us. They’re trying to ignore what has been decided by the United Nations. I think politically it is unacceptable for a country known throughout the world as a country of human rights, a country of freedom. So it is a great victory, but the struggle is not over. We have to educate our people, take time to get together with all our people throughout this big country.
Should I remind you that our country Maohi Nui is a big country as big as Europe - 5 million square kilometres - with all the resources we have in this country, the resources are under our sea-bed. That is the main stakehold. We all know that France is looking after those resources also to develop its country, not to develop our own country.
|illustration by worldatlas.com|
WALTER ZWEIFEL: Now, as recently as two weeks ago, the overseas minister Victorin Lurel was in Tahiti and he gave an address to the Assembly saying that France refuses to subscribe to this decolonisation process. What does that mean for you?
OT: That’s why I told you it’s a great victory. The United Nations is telling France, the administrating power, to assume its responsibility towards our country Maohi Nui.
Posted by Overseas Review at 1:40 PM No comments:
Labels: aboriginal, Decolonisation, France, French overseas territories, French Polynesia, human rights defender, indigenous peoples, Ma'ohi Nui, non self-governing territories, Self-Determination
20 December 2013
THE MORAL CASE FOR REPARATIONS FOR SLAVERY
Sir Ronald Sanders
On Friday 18th October, Sir Ronald Sanders featured on a three-man panel at a public symposium at Senate House, University of London on 'Slavery and Reparations". Also on the panel was Dan Leader one of the lawyers in the UK firm Leigh Day that represented Kenyan Mau Mau victims in their legal case against the UK government, and Professor Philip Murphy, Director of the Institute of Commonwealth Studies and Author, Sir Ronald's presentation follows.
In 1838, British slave owners in the English-Speaking Caribbean received £11.6 billion in today’s value as compensation for the emancipation of their “property” – 655,780 human beings of African descent that they had enslaved and exploited, and, in many cases, brutalised.
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.
This is the basis on which 14 governments of the member-states of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) believe there is a case for reparations.
Reparations debate not new
The Caribbean governments are targeting the governments of Britain, France and the Netherlands even though the initiator of the Atlantic slave trade was Portugal followed closely by Spain.
Indeed, while Britain passed legislation to end the slave trade in 1807 – almost three hundred years after it started – and to abolish slavery in 1838, the Spanish and Portuguese kept their trade alive, exploiting African slave labour for their economic benefit until the second half of the 19th Century.
The reason that the 14 governments are tackling only Britain, France and the Netherlands is that these three were their colonial masters responsible for slavery in these particular jurisdictions.
The issue of reparations for slavery is, of course, not new. It has been discussed for years.
READ FULL ANALYSIS HERE .
Posted by Overseas Review at 5:39 PM No comments:
Labels: Africa, Caribbean, CARICOM, Colonialism, Denmark, France, human rights violations, Netherlands, Portugal, racism, Spain, United Kingdom
19 December 2013
Denmark, Norway, Portugal, Spain and Sweden added to reparations focus for role in Caribbean slavery
Caribbean Panel Expands Slavery Reparations Battle
A Caribbean commission is expanding the number of former colonial powers it says should provide some form of reparations for the lingering regional impact of the Atlantic slave trade.
At a Tuesday news conference at the Jamaica campus of the University of the West Indies, the Caribbean Community Reparations Commission identified eight European nations that should work with regional governments to “address the living legacies of these crimes.”
A British law firm hired by Caribbean governments seeking reparations initially targeted Britain, France and the Netherlands. But the Caribbean Community reparations panel, which is acting as an advisory group for regional governments, added the names of Spain, Portugal, Denmark, Norway and Sweden.
“Of course, when we delve deeper into the history, we find that most of the European nations, including those in southern Europe and central Europe, were also involved in this,” commission chairman Hilary Beckles said, adding that the group is also gathering information on countries such as Switzerland and Russia.
Beckles, who has written several books on the history of Caribbean slavery, said the commission is preparing to submit its first report to heads of governments, who will ultimately decide how to approach the European nations.
The commission says the wounds of slavery include psychological trauma that is still evident in Caribbean social life and a legacy of scientific and technological “backwardness” due to a focus on the production of raw materials such as sugar during the days of plantation slavery.
St. Vincent Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, who takes over the rotating leadership of the Caribbean Community at the start of 2014, has vowed to press the issue, which he calls a “fundamental, defining matter of our age.”
Caricom, as the group is known, announced in July that it intended to seek reparations for slavery and the genocide of native peoples and created the regional reparations commission to press the issue. In addition, eight member states have established their own national reparations committees.
The Caribbean governments hired the British law firm of Leigh Day, which waged a successful fight for compensation for hundreds of Kenyans who were tortured by the British colonial government during the so-called Mau Mau rebellion of the 1950s and 1960s.
Firm attorney Richard Stein said Tuesday they will go to the International Court of Justice, the United Nations’ highest judicial organ, if government negotiations don’t pan out.
It appears it could very well turn into a legal dispute. During a stopover in Jamaica last month, the British government minister for the Caribbean, Mark Simmonds, voiced skepticism about arguments calling for Britain to pay reparations.
“Do I think that we are in a position where we can financially offer compensation for an event two, three, four hundred years ago? No, I don’t,” Simmonds was quoted as saying by the Jamaica Observer. He added that slavery was “abhorrent” and said people around the globe need to work together to eradicate modern-day slavery.
By David McFadden (AP)
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Labels: Africa, Caribbean, CARICOM, Colonialism, Europe, human rights violations, slavery
18 December 2013
Denmark will not apologize for slavery in the former Danish West Indies; CARICOM invites Denmark for reparatory dialogue, identifies six key areas to be the focus of diplomacy and action
"We note that some countries express an apprehension in addressing the issue of remedial action despite this overwhelming evidence. We note that others appear to practice a sort of selectivity of memory of the objective reality of their role in this difficult and tragic period of history." -
Official Address of the Government of the U.S. Virgin Islands to the United Nations World Conference against Racism, Durban, South Africa (September, 2001).
Denmark Nixes Slavery Apology, Reparations
The government of Denmark recognizes the evils of slavery in its past, but it will not issue a formal apology or pay reparations to the U.S. Virgin Islands because there are no living former Danish slave owners or slaves to apologize or to apologize to, Denmark’s foreign minister said last month.
The formal statement came after the small far-left Danish political party Enhedslisten, or Unity Party, in November called on the government of Denmark to apologize for its role in the transatlantic slave trade. The Unity Party cited discussions with St. Croix activists and president of the African Caribbean Reparations and Resettlement Alliance, as well as a V.I. Legislature committee hearing on the topic.
The party, a coalition of several smaller parties called "Enhedslisten" or "Unity Party," or Red-Green Alliance, controls 12 seats in the 175-seat Danish parliament, making it the fifth largest party in parliament, and the fourth largest left of center party. It is a member of the current governing coalition of parties.
"Denmark has a gruesome history with active involvement in slave trade," Unity Party foreign affairs spokesperson, Nikolaj Villumsen, said in a Danish radio interview, according to the Post. "An official apology is important for two reasons. One is to pay sympathies to the descendants of slaves and the other reason is to have a debate in Denmark about our slavery past," the Post quotes him as saying.
But that view is not universal. The far-right Dansk Folkeparti, which has 22 seats in parliament, said that Denmark shouldn't be held responsible for something that happened "200 years ago." DF spokesperson Soren Espersen told Politiken newspaper in Denmark.
READ FULL ARTICLE HERE .
A statement issued following a meeting of the executive of the Commission on Monday, noted that a call had been made for the former slave-owning nations of Europe - principally Britain, France, Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Denmark - to engage Caribbean governments in reparatory dialogue to address the living legacies of these crimes.
CARICOM Reparations Commission identifies six key areas to be the focus of diplomacy and action
CARICOM Secretariat, Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana) Public Health was one of the key issues identified by the CARICOM Reparations Commission to receive reparatory diplomacy and action. This disclosure was made by Chairman of the CARICOM Reparations Commission Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, at a press conference on Tuesday following a meeting of the representatives from the Commission with law firm Leigh Day on Monday at the UWI Mona.
According to Professor Beckles “the African descended population in the Caribbean today has the highest incidence in the world of chronic diseases such as hypertension and type two diabetes.” He said it was the direct result of their nutritional exposure, endemic inhumane physical and emotional brutalization and other aspects of the stress experience of slavery and post slavery apartheid.
Education was the second of the six issues identified. The Commission Chairman stated that at the end of the colonial period the British left the African descended population in a state of general illiteracy. He noted that this illiteracy continued to plague Caribbean societies and accounted for significant parts of their development challenges.
Speaking to cultural institutions, Professor Beckles said there was no development of institutions such as museums and research centers to prepare Caribbean citizens for an understanding of their history.
He also spoke of cultural deprivation as another issue that needed to be addressed and outlined that the primary cultural effect of slavery was to break and eradicate African commitment to their culture.
He stated further that African culture was criminalized and pointed to how Caribbean people were affected by cultural deprivation. He said this included low ethnic self-esteem; the devaluation of black identity; broken structures and diminished family values; delegitimisation of African derived religious and cultural practices, and disconnection from ancestral roots and culture.
Psychological trauma was another area identified by the Commission that needed to be addressed. According to Professor Beckles during the time of slavery, Africans were classified in law as non-human, chattel, property and real estate. He said they were denied recognition as members of the human family by laws and practices derived from the parliaments and policies of Europe. This history, he said, has inflicted massive psychological damage upon African descendants and is evident daily in social life.
The sixth issue which the Commission said needed to be remedied was that of scientific and technological backwardness. It was highlighted that for 400 years the policy of Britain and Europe had been that the Caribbean should not participate in any manufacturing or industrial process, and should be confined to the production of raw materials.
This policy, according to Professor Beckles “has rendered the Caribbean a technologically and scientifically ill-equipped civilization for which it continues to experience debilitating backwardness in a science and technology globalized world.” Additionally he said that the subjection of the Caribbean to this state has denied Caribbean youth membership and access to an enhancing science and technology culture that has become the world youth patrimony.
It was also explained by the Commission Chairman that the argument that CARICOM should request reparatory dialogue with beneficiary slave-owning European states with a view to formulating a new development agenda for the Caribbean was reaffirmed.
The next meeting of the full commission will be in January 2014 and it is anticipated that its first interim report will be ready for submission to the CARICOM Heads of Government meeting in February 2014.
CARICOM Reparations Commission identifies six key areas to be the focus of diplomacy and action
According to Professor Beckles “the African descended population in the Caribbean today has the highest incidence in the world of chronic diseases such as hypertension and type two diabetes.” He said it was the direct result of their nutritional exposure, endemic inhumane physical and emotional brutalization and other aspects of the stress experience of slavery and post slavery apartheid.
Posted by Overseas Review at 10:19 AM No comments:
Labels: Africa, Caribbean, Colonialism, Denmark, human rights violations, non self-governing territories, racism, slavery, US Virgin Islands
17 December 2013
Regional cooperation can help Pacific countries deal with deep sea mining
The proposed establishment of a regional supervisory body for deep sea mining in the Pacific region and emphasis on the value of marine spatial planning formed part of discussions at the 4th Regional Training Workshop: Environmental Perspectives of Deep Sea Mineral Activities in Nadi, Fiji.
Working groups began planning strategies on building regional cooperation, increasing awareness of marine spatial planning and creating environmental impact assessment (EIA) templates for deep sea mineral mining.
The template documents could be tailored by individual countries to determine the impact of planned mining activities in each area.
SEE FULL ARTICLE HERE
Posted by Overseas Review at 6:49 PM No comments:
16 December 2013
A TRIBUTE TO SOUTH AFRICAN PRESIDENT NELSON MANDELA
ATTORNEY JUDITH L. BOURNE
TRIBUTE TO PRESIDENT NELSON MANDELA
THE 30 TH LEGISLATURE
OF THE U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS
Earle B. Ottley Legislative Chambers
December 13, 2013
Good morning to all. First let me thank the Legislature of the U.S. Virgin Islands, and especially Senator Myron Jackson, for sponsoring this tribute and for the opportunity of making this presentation.
The media have been full of descriptions of Nelson Mandela’s life, words and actions after his release from 27 years of imprisonment, but to fully appreciate the greatness of his spirit and the immense significance of that portion of his life, we need to know about how he got to Robben Island.
We need to recognize not only how he used his time in prison to further develop both himself and his fellow political prisoners in what was called “Mandela University” and how he expressed that development on his release, but also the activities, persistence and determination of the path that he followed that led to both to his imprisonment and to his ultimate triumph.
Despite all of the current statements connecting him to Gandhi and Martin King, he was not an apostle of non-violence, he was a proponent of the least damaging tactics that would be effective.
When the Virgin Islands Anti-Apartheid Committee was formed in 1985, the primary focus of the international anti-apartheid struggle was called the Campaign to Free Mandela And All Political Prisoners.
At that time, no one outside of Robben Island even knew what Madiba actually looked like, because he had been banned by the apartheid regime first in 1952 and then again at the beginning of the 1960s. Banning meant, among other things, that he could not be quoted in public, his picture could not be published and he could not attend meetings of any kind.
As a student at the University of Fort Hare in the early 1940s, he together with fellow student Oliver Tambo became involved in political activism, which led their expulsion. Mandela and Tambo became life-long comrades and friends, and founded the first African law firm in South Africa in 1952.
Mandela and Tambo joined the African National Congress in 1944 and, becoming disillusioned with what they considered to be the “policies of appeasement and compromise” of the then ANC leadership, they, together with Walter Sisulu, founded the ANC Youth League in 1947. These three eventually became the pre-eminent leaders of the ANC throughout the internationally recognized anti-apartheid struggle, Mandela and Sisulu on Robben Island and Tambo as the President of the ANC in exile.
In 1952, Mandela was the Volunteer in Chief of the Defiance Campaign (Campaign for the Defiance of Unjust Laws) which was led by the ANC and the South African Indian Congress in which groups of volunteers, Africans, Indians, some Coloureds and a few whites, the four racial groups on which the apartheid laws were based, deliberately defied those laws by marching together into restricted areas without permits, entering European sections of public buildings such as post offices, using white facilities, etc., actions much like those of the Freedom Riders and sit-in participants of the US south two decades later.
The Defiance Campaign continued from June through December of 1952 and over 8000 persons were arrested, mostly on minor charges. However, these actions so alarmed the apartheid government that they arrested many of the leaders, including Mandela, and convicted them of “statutory communism” and gave them 2 - year suspended sentences.
The significance of these actions, which the apartheid regime fully understood, was that they showed the potential power of a militant African leadership, and marked the beginning of cooperation across racial lines in the anti-apartheid struggle. That cooperation led to the Congress Alliance amongst the African National Congress, the South African Indian Congress, the Coloured Peoples Congress, the Congress of Democrats, and the South African Congress of Trade Unions. That Alliance led to the Congress of the People in 1955 which adopted the Freedom Charter which begins with what were then very revolutionary words:
“We, the People of South Africa, declare for all our country and the world to know: that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white, and that no government can justly claim authority unless it is based on the will of all the people”.
The Freedom Charter also caused the United Nations to recognize South African racial policy as an international issue.
In response to the adoption of the Freedom Charter, in December 1956, the apartheid government arrested Mandela and 155 other persons, virtually the entire leadership of all five Congress groups, and charged them with high treason. The trial lasted for four years, but resulted in all being acquitted.
Shortly after the end of the Treason Trial in 1961, at a mass protest march in Sharpeville, the police shot 69 Africans to death and injured 180 more. This convinced Mandela, and Mandela convinced the ANC, that armed struggle had become necessary.
Umkhonto we Sizwe (Spear of the Nation, known as MK) was formed with Mandela as its commander and a campaign of sabotage was begun with bombings of emblems of the regime, such as electrical pylons that carried electricity to white areas. The areas to which the other racial groups were confined, and especially African areas, had no electricity.
As a result of the beginning of the armed struggle, the ANC was banned. The organization sent Oliver Tambo out of the country as its president in exile to lead the international struggle and Mandela went underground. While masterminding the sabotage campaign, he was also smuggled out of South Africa, underwent guerrilla training in Algeria, and assisted in raising support for the struggle across Africa and in England. On his return to South Africa, he was captured when an informant revealed his location and disguise.
Investigation is now indicating that the US CIA may well have been involved in his capture.
In 1962, he was convicted of “incitement and illegally leaving the country” and sentenced to 5 years imprisonment.The following year, the government raided a farmhouse in Rivonia, which was the MK headquarters, arrested the remaining leaders of MK and found documents which implicated Mandela as the commander. At what became known as the Rivonia trial, Mandela and five others were sentenced to life in prison, unexpectedly escaping execution by hanging.
The famous words of his address to the court: “During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die" were not mere rhetoric. Execution by hanging was a very real possibility and, in fact, was expected by many.
But the apartheid regime apparently did not want a martyr; they wanted him to be forgotten - a prisoner whose name and words could not be mentioned and whose image could not be seen. However, the international anti-apartheid struggle, led particularly by Mandela’s former law partner Oliver Tambo, did not allow that to happen.
I was fortunate to become involved in the anti-apartheid movement as a young adult and it, as a part of the human rights movement that also included the civil rights struggle in the US, has been a major part of my life.
From the mid 1980s, the Virgin Islands Anti-Apartheid Committee took on the task of raising the consciousness of our population with regard to the anti-apartheid struggle of southern Africa, which included South Africa, South African occupied Southwest Africa,
now Namibia, and the Portuguese colonies - mainly Angola and Mozambique.
As I mentioned at the beginning, this struggle focused on the campaign to Free Mandela And All Political Prisoners. Just as Madiba insisted that he never acted alone, that he was always part of a collective, the campaign named Mandela as the acknowledged leader of the struggle, and his release as an essential first step, but included the release of all of those imprisoned for their opposition to apartheid.
So the VIAAC, in addition to designing and selling anti-apartheid t-shirts, publishing articles, and making presentations, also brought to St. Thomas representatives of the South West Africa People’s Organization (SWAPO), including Andimba Toivo ya Toivo, a leading member who had been imprisoned with Mandela on Robben Island. On the independence of Namibia in 1990, Mr. Ya Toivo became theMinister of Mines and Energy.
And in 1993, when it was learned that an ambassador of the South African apartheid regime would be vacationing on St. Thomas and had been invited to speak to the new Legislature, the VIAAC organized a visit by the ANC representative to the US, who was then invited by Gov. Farrelly for an official Government House visit (the South African ambassador received no such invitation) and who spoke at several schools as well as to the general population through various media.
But perhaps our most important action was the petition campaign to name the Nelson Mandela Circle, not only because the Legislature passed the legislation that we drafted and thereby memorialized the territory’s support of Nelson Mandela and the antiapartheid struggle, but because the campaign itself provided a platform on which the members of the VIAAC were able to publicize and explain the relevance of the struggle in southern Africa to our small islands here in the Caribbean.
I will end by quoting a portion of the statement made by the Buddhist philosopher Daisaku Ikeda, who Madiba visited in Japan in 1990 and again in 1995:
“Mr. Mandela was a lion of humanitarian causes and human rights who inspired hope and courage in the hearts of those around the world victimized by conflict, racism and injustice. His smile was like a refreshing spring breeze. ... I am convinced that his unwavering and passionate stance calling fora world that respects the dignity of all people will eternally shine as a guiding star for humankind.”
It is a star that we, in the US Virgin Islands, also need to keep before us and to follow.
Posted by Overseas Review at 9:05 PM No comments:
Labels: Africa, Caribbean, human rights defender, racism, Self-Determination
Curacao Prime Minister sees increased regional integration as critical to the sustainable development process
12th Forum of the European Union
and the Overseas Countries and Territories of the EU
Address of H.E. Ivar Asjes
|picture by curacaochronicle.com|
Mr. Chairman, Excellencies, Members of Parliament, Distinguished ladies and gentlemen,
At the outset, I would like to express my appreciation to the European Commission together in cooperation with the OCTA Chair for the excellent preparations for our deliberations this week, and for the superb arrangements made in convening the various events associated with this 12th Forum of the European Union and OCTs.
The constructive dialogue which has characterised our discussions thus far has been is highly useful in facilitating sustainable economic and social development for the OCTs as we face the formidable challenges posed in this increasingly globalised world, and as we seek to further advance the development process of our respective societies.
In this connection, it is particularly useful that we as OCTs continue to avail ourselves of this unique opportunity for dialogue, not only within the OCTs of our respective regions, but also across other regions as well. Indeed, the sharing of best practices and innovations employed by OCTs has been a highlight of our discussions this week.
The innovative strategies presented during the last few days have provided tangible evidence of how OCT’s can turn adversity into an asset to the benefit of social economic development.
Such exchange of ideas and strategies confirm the determination of OCT’s to devise ways and means to address the challenges we face as leaders in advancing our respective development processes. In this connection, we encourage the further advancement of opportunities for such dialogue amongst OCTs, the outermost regions, as well as the ACP countries which are similarly situated. We take note that the OCTA Roadmap for 2014, makes specific reference to the importance of such linkages.
To this end, we express our appreciation for the support provided by our European Union partners as an important tool to advance our development process. The flexibility shown in facilitating the completion of the EDF 10 process is well appreciated as an important input into the infrastructural development of our neighborhoods.
As has been reinforced throughout our discussions this week, the OCTs are widely dispersed through the planet yet share common characteristics including dis-economies of scale, distance from markets, geographical isolation, vulnerability to external shocks, and the susceptibility to the uncertainty and unpredictability of climate change. In this context, it is important to emphasise that the partnership between the OCTs and the EU serves as a valuable mechanism to facilitate economic and social progress.
The partnership also affords the opening of the necessary space for OCTs to advance amid the challenges of globalisation. For Curacao, such space is critical to advancing our sustainable development process, and serves to facilitate increased integration within the international community - including our Caribbean region - via the active functional participation in international and regional organisations, and through bilateral economic cooperation.
Since our emergence as an autonomous country in 2010, we have accelerated efforts in this regard. Curacao has gained associate membership in the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean – the major economic cooperation mechanism in our hemisphere. Curacao has also succeeded in joining other relevant institutions including UNESCO and the Latin American Parliament, and presently enjoys full membership in the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) and Interpol.
We are also seeking to re-join a number of additional international bodies in which we participated as part of the former Netherlands Antilles. These include the Alliance of Small Island States which focuses on small island states and climate change negotiations. We are also proceeding to update our status with the International Olympic Committee, and have formally applied for associate membership in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).
We are working towards similar functional cooperation with other relevant technical and economic organisations, and are exploring dialogue with several states in our hemisphere to facilitate trade, investment and related business activity. Curacao sees this functional cooperation and engagement with the international community as a modern approach in furtherance of the sustainable development process.
Curacao appreciates the constructive relations with the European Commission and the good results achieved at this Forum with regards to the 10th EDF and future cooperation. This cooperation will benefit the population of Curacao, through low-cost housing and urban development.
We are now at an important stage where the new Overseas Association Decision (OAD) will enter into force at 1st January 2014. Curacao welcomes the more mature nature of the relationship with the EU, where more responsibilities are entrusted to the OCT’s. This forms a better platform for the ownership by the OCT’s with regards to our partnership.
We welcome the opportunity to utilize the new OAD to position the OCT’s cooperation in their region. In that respect Curacao is looking forward to further establishing itself as a logistical hub in the Caribbean and Latin American Region.
As for the 11th EDF, we commend the Member States and the European Commission on a job well done.
As Commissioner Piebalgs stated, an increase of the Territorial and Regional Envelope in these challenging times, is sign of the commitment on the part of the EU, and also reiterates that the OCT’s are recognised as a valuable asset.
In closing and on behalf of the government and people of Curacao, I wish to express appreciation to the OCT’s for the confidence you have placed in Curacao through our election as vice chairman of the Overseas Countries and Territories Association (OCTA). We look forward to working closely, within the framework of the Board of Chairmen, to advance the visibility of the OCTA vis a vis the EU at a high political level. We will work closely with the Chair to both strengthen the OCT political representation, and enhance the implementation of the OCTA mandate adopted by the OCT’s. Again, thank you for the support, and Curacao looks forward to a prosperous collaboration with the Commission and OCT’s in the year ahead.
Asjes Chosen As Vice-President OCTA
BRUSSELS, WILLEMSTAD – Ivar Asjes was elected as vice-president of the Overseas Countries and Territories Association (OCTA), the organization of the 22 overseas territories which have constitutional ties with European countries. Member countries were in Brussels, Belgium to discuss issues of the OCTA together.
Some of these issues are climate change, construction and maintenance of infrastructure, energy and socioeconomic problems. Participants also agreed on the presidency of the organization. The 22 delegations chose Prime Minister Orlando Smith (British Virgin Islands) as President and his colleague Prime Minister of Curacao, Ivar Asjes as vice president.
According to Prime Minister Asjes, his appointment as vice-president of the OCTA represents an important step for Curacao. “It’s an opportunity to have closer ties of mutual cooperation in the region. It also helps to position our nation in the international arena,” Asjes declared.
Posted by Overseas Review at 11:36 AM No comments:
Labels: autonomy, Caribbean, CARICOM, Curacao, economic development, Latin America, small island developing states
15 December 2013
Australia signals a decrease in Pacific influence - Nic Maclellan
Stopping the cheques
Australia’s performance at CHOGM (Commponwealth Heads of Government Meeting) and in Warsaw (in November) will accelerate the decline of its influence in the Pacific, writes Nic Maclellan
STANDING on the podium in Warsaw this week, president Baron Waqa of Nauru wasn’t mincing his words. “Many of the countries most responsible for climate change are retreating from their moral responsibility and obligation to act,” he said. “Consequently, we are lacking the urgent ambition required to lower emissions in the short time we have to avert catastrophe.”
This year’s global climate negotiations haven’t gone well. The Alliance of Small Island States, or AOSIS, is angry that many developed nations are abandoning pledges to provide financial support for the most vulnerable islands affected by global warming. Speaking on behalf of this forty-three-member bloc, Waqa stressed the vital role of climate finance in responding to the climate emergency. “We are missing the all-embracing idea of human solidarity that underpins the concept of ‘loss and damage,’” he said, referring to the devastation to land, water supply, agriculture and infrastructure caused by delays in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and the failure to fund the necessary adaptation.
Leading the retreat at Warsaw is the Australian government. In December last year, the Coalition’s shadow climate minister, Greg Hunt, said that an Abbott government would not give a “blank cheque” to cover loss and damage. Now, as federal environment minister (“climate” having been removed from the title), Hunt has refused to attend the Warsaw negotiations and is making good on his pledge to stop the cheques.
At this month’s Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Sri Lanka, the Abbott government ditched Australia’s pledge to contribute to the Green Climate Fund, an innovative new funding mechanism for dealing with the effects of climate change. In their final communique , the CHOGM leaders “recognised the importance attached to both the operationalisation and the capitalisation of the Green Climate Fund.” But a footnote recorded that “Australia and Canada had reservations about the language of paragraphs 18, 19, 20 and 21 and indicated that they could not support a Green Capital [sic] Fund at this time.”
Hunt made clear in December last year that the Coalition wouldn’t support this multilateral body. “This is not a fund which we support. We have no control over where the money goes, no control over how it’s used, no control over how much we pay and this is something which we clearly, simply, categorically reject.” At the time, international observers were astounded by the chutzpah of this statement. Australia had played a central role in the creation of the fund, with AusAID’s deputy director-general, Ewen McDonald, appointed co-chair of the Fund’s board for its first year of operation. Australian officials have played a crucial role in determining the Fund’s mandate, operations and policies.
READ FULL ANALYSIS HERE AT
Posted by Overseas Review at 4:22 PM No comments:
Labels: Australia, climate change, energy, environment, small island developing states, sustainable development
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