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 July 2014
U.S. Territories now exempt from Obamacare
Posted by Overseas Review at 9:29 AM No comments:
Labels: American Samoa, Caribbean, Colonialism, Guam, non self-governing territories, Northern Marianas, Puerto Rico, United States, US Virgin Islands
29 July 2014
Mauritius Lobbies to Regain Control Of Diego Garcia, Site of U.S. Base
By Larry Luxner
Diego Garcia, a remote speck of land in the middle of the Indian Ocean, rarely makes news. But in recent months, the coral atoll has grabbed the attention of online conspiracy theorists who claim the missing Malaysian Airlines jet secretly landed there as part of some clandestine U.S. military operation.
The obscure island even got a mention in the latest installment of the Fox TV show “24,” as super-agent Jack Bauer rushes to thwart terrorists who’ve hijacked a group of American drones at the exact time that the U.S. president is trying to convince Britain to extend a treaty allowing the use of drones on its base in Diego Garcia.
As dramatic as these references are, they do hint at the island’s strategic value just as the United States, Great Britain and Mauritius prepare for talks on the future of the Chagos archipelago, which includes Diego Garcia.
At issue: Who, exactly, owns this tiny island 1,000 miles east of Mauritius and 2,900 miles northwest of Australia?
In 1965, three years before Mauritius won independence, Great Britain detached the Chagos archipelago from the rest of its then-colony and created the British Indian Ocean Territory to administer the islands from London. The following year, it signed a 50-year treaty with the United States that allowed Americans to establish a military outpost on Diego Garcia; in return, it secured a discount on U.S. Polaris missiles. In the process, Britain kicked out about 2,000 native Chagossians to make way for the American outpost.
READ FULL TEXT HERE
Posted by Overseas Review at 11:21 AM No comments:
Labels: Chagos, Colonialism, human rights violations, Indian Ocean, international law, Mauritius, military, occupation, sovereignty dispute, United States
28 July 2014
CARICOM Reparations Commission calls for Reparatory Justice for the crime of slavery in presentation to UK House of Commons
CHAIRMAN OF THE CARICOM REPARATIONS COMMISSION
HOUSE OF COMMONS,
PARLIAMENT OF GREAT BRITAIN
COMMITTEE ROOM 14
JULY 16, 2014
Madam Chair, the distinguished member of Parliament for Hackney North and Stoke Newington, Diane Abbott, other distinguished members of the House of Lords, and House of Commons, Excellencies of the Diplomatic Corp, colleagues at the head table, Ladies and Gentlemen.
I speak this evening, in this honourable chamber of the House of Commons, as Chairman of the CARICOM Commission on Reparations. My colleagues of the Commission are tasked with the preparation and presentation of the evidentiary basis for a contemporary truth: that the Government of Great Britain, and other European states that were the beneficiaries of enrichment from the enslavement of African peoples, the genocide of indigenous communities, and the deceptive breach of contract and trust in respect of Indians and other Asians brought to the plantations under indenture, have a case to answer in respect of reparatory justice.
The case of genocide is not only in respect of our decimated native community. It is also important to recognize the genocidal aspect of chattel slavery in the Caribbean.
British slave ships brought 5.5 million enslaved Africans into their Caribbean colonies over 180 years. When slavery was abolished in 1838 they were just 800,000 persons remaining. That is, a retention/survival rate of 15%. Jamaica received 1.5 million Africans. Only 300,000 remained at Emancipation (20%). Barbados received 600,000 Africans. Only 83,000 remained at Emancipation (14%). The regime of enslavement was crafted by policies and attitudes that were clearly genocidal.
This case is for the CARICOM governments to present on behalf of its citizens. I am sure that in its presentation there will be due regard for the principles of diplomacy and development cooperation - for which they have long distinguished themselves. This process will bring honour and dignity to the people of the Caribbean as well as to the people of Great Britain and Europe.
CARICOM governments, like the government of Great Britain, represent nations that are independent and equal. As such, they should proceed on the basis of their legitimate equality, without fear of retribution, in the best interest of humanity, and for a better future for us all.
I am honoured to be asked to speak in this historic parliament of the people of Great Britain. Like you I am aware that this Parliament prepared the official political basis of the crimes that defined the colonial past. It is here, in this House, that the evil system of slavery, and genocide, were established. This House passed laws, framed fiscal policies, and enforced the crimes that have produced harmful legacies and persistent suffering now in need of repair.
This House also made emancipation from slavery and independence from colonialism an empowering reality. It is in here, we now imagine, that laws for reparatory justice can be conceptualized and implemented. It is in here, we believe, that the terrible wrongs of the past can be corrected, and humanity finally and truthfully liberated from the shame and guilt that have followed these historical crimes.
We must believe in the corrective power of this Parliament to respond positively to this present challenge, and in the process free itself from the bondage of its own sins and crimes. Without this belief our journey here this evening would be lacking integrity, and without a doubt, would be a useless exercise.
But I speak in this honourable House this evening, not only as Chairman of a rightfully constituted commission that is peopled by some of our finest Caribbean citizens, and who have been selected by our distinguished Presidents and Prime Ministers, but as a Caribbean person with an affinity for this country. I was raised and educated here. I came from the Caribbean to this country as a child; I grew to maturity here; and was educated here in a fine university that has distinguished itself in the Liberal-Progressive pedagogy of the nation.
Great Britain, therefore, is my second home and I care for it as I care for my first home, the Great Caribbean. I wish for Great Britain, as I do for the Great Caribbean, peace and prosperity. I wish that their shared past, painful though it has been, will be transformed into a moral force of mutual respect and development cooperation.
It is for these reasons that I have joined the Caribbean and global movement for reparatory justice. I believe we can settle this case within the context of diplomatic initiatives that are consistent with our status as equal nations.
The crimes committed against the indigenous, African, and Asian peoples of the Caribbean are well documented. We know of the 250 years of slave trading, chattel slavery, and the following 100 years of colonial oppression.
Slavery was ended in 1838, only to be replaced by a century of racial apartheid, including the denigration of Asian people. Indigenous genocide, African chattel slavery and genocide, and Asian contract slavery, were three acts of a single play – a single process by which the British state forcefully extracted wealth from the Caribbean resulting in its persistent, endemic poverty.
I wish to comment, as a result, on the 1833 Act of Emancipation, and how this august Parliament betrayed the enslaved people of the Caribbean by forcing them to pay more than 50% of the cost of their own emancipation. This is an aspect of the history long hidden from public view.
We know, for example, that this Parliament in 1833 determined that the 800,000 enslaved people in the Caribbean were worth, as chattel property, £47 million. This was their assessed market value. We know that this Parliament determined that all slave owners should receive just and fair compensation for the official taking away of their property. We know that this Parliament provided the sum of £20 million in grants to the slave owners as fair compensation for the loss of their human chattel.
And we know that this Parliament determined that the enslaved people would receive none of this compensation. The argument made in this House was that ‘property’ cannot receive property compensation. This Parliament, in its emancipation Act, upheld the law that black people were not human, but property.
What this Parliament has hid from the world is that it also determined that the remaining £27 million would be paid by the enslaved people to their enslavers, by means of a 4 year period of free labour called the Apprenticeship.
This period of additional free labour by the emancipated represented the enforced extraction of £27 million by the state. It was a cruel and shameful method of legislating Emancipation by forcing the enslaved to pay more than 50% of the financial cost of their own freedom. The £20 million paid the enslavers by this Parliament was less than the £27 million paid by the enslaved to the enslavers as dictated by this House.
I wish now to engage the argument of the British Government that the slavery and other colonial crimes were ‘legal’, and that they took place ‘a long time ago’, and are beyond the border of adjudication.
Allow me, Madam Chair, to breach protocol and to interject myself into the discourse, in order to demonstrate how very contemporary and current this exploitation of the Caribbean people is and has been.
Upstairs this chamber sits the Earl of Harewood. He is an honourable member of the House of Lords. But does Lord Harewood know that my grandfather after Independence in Barbados in 1966 labored on this sugar plantation, as did his father and forefathers, going back to the days of slavery? Does the goodly Lord know that as a child I took lunch for my grandfather into the canefields of his sugar plantation? Lord Harewood, and my family, go back a long way, from slavery right into the present.
Take also the very aristocratic and very distinguished Cumberbatch family. It has now produced the brilliant young actor, Benedict Cumberbatch [who I would love to meet one day]. Benedict’s grandfather owned the estate on which my beloved great grandmother worked all her adult life. They enslaved my family on their Cleland plantation in the parish of St. Andrew. My great grandmother, who helped to raise me, and who we all called ‘mammy’, carried the name Adriana Cumberbatch. The actor and academic are joined therefore by a common past and present, and maybe, common blood!
My case is but one of ten thousand such cases. Everywhere across the Caribbean the presence of our enslavers can be identified in our daily domestic lives. This history is not remote. It is alive and pressing upon our daily affairs.
And what have our people and governments been doing with respect to this legacy since we have gained national independence? The truth is, the people of the Caribbean have been very courageous in their effort at self-development and self-help in respect of this terrible history and enduring legacy.
Our citizens have faced this past head on, and have established a vibrant culture of community self-help and sustainable regional development mobilization. We are not beggars! We are not subservient! We do not want charity and handouts! We want justice! Reparatory justice!
When all is said and done, our governments these past 50 years have been cleaning up the mess left behind by Britain’s colonial legacy. Our finest Presidents and Prime Ministers have been devising projects to clean up the awful mess inherited from slavery and colonization. They must be commended for this effort, but the fact is, this legacy of rubble and ruin, persistent poverty, and racialised relations and reasoning, that continues to cripple our best efforts, has been daunting.
Britain, and its Parliament, cannot morally and legally turn their back upon this past, and walk away from the mess they have left behind. This Parliament has to return to the scene of its crimes, and participate as a legitimate parliament, as a legal parliament, in the healing and rehabilitation of the Caribbean.
We cannot, and should not, be asked to do this by ourselves. We have done our part. This Parliament must now return, and do its part, within the context of reparatory justice, and within the framework of development cooperation.
I wish to give two examples of how this reparatory justice can work:
(1) Jamaica, Britain’s largest slave colony, was left with 80% black functional illiteracy at Independence in 1962. From this circumstance the great and courageous Jamaican nation has struggled with development and poverty alleviation. The deep crisis remains. This Parliament owes the people of Jamaica an educational and human resource investment initiative.
(2) Barbados, Britain’s first slave society, is now called the amputation capitol of the world. It is here that the stress profile of slavery and racial apartheid; dietary disaster and psychological trauma; and the addiction to the consumption of sugar and salt, have reached the highest peak. The country is now host to the world’s most virulent diabetes and hypertension epidemic. This Parliament owes the people of Barbados an education and health initiative.
It is the same for all our countries; the Bahamas, the Leewards, the Windwards, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, Belize, and beyond.
The CARICOM Ten Point Plan for Reparatory Justice addresses these development issues that are central to the case Britain has to answer. It is an invitation to Great Britain to demonstrate leadership within the legal, moral, and diplomatic culture of the world, within the Commonwealth, and within its relations the Caribbean.
There can be no escaping the importance of this exchange of views about the matter before this honourable chamber tonight.
It took all of the 19th century to uproot slavery from the Caribbean; from Haiti in 1804 to the Spanish sub-region in the 1880s. It took another 100 years to create citizenship, nationhood, and democracy across the Caribbean as a development framework. We have helped ourselves.
This 21st century will be the century of global reparatory justice. Citizens are now, for the first time since they were driven into retreat by colonialism, able to stand up for reparatory justice without fear. Their claim, their just claim for reparations, will not go away. Rather, like the waves upon our beautiful shores, they will keep coming until reparatory justice is attained.
Madam Chair, we call upon you, and all members of this House, to rise to this challenge and to assist Great Britain to be truly worthy of the title “Great”. I urge you to do the right thing, in the right way. There is no other right time, other than right now, in our time. There is so much to gain from your leadership. The Caribbean is counting on you.
In 1823, the honourable Thomas Buxton, M.P. for Weymouth and Melcombe Regis, presented a bill to this House calling for an Emancipation Act with compensation for the enslaved people. His bill and vision were defeated. Instead, ten years later, an emancipation bill was passed, not with compensation for the enslaved, but with handsome and generous compensation for enslavers. Some 40% of the national expenditure of the country was handed over to slave-owners as reparations.
The enslaved people of the Caribbean got nothing. Indeed, they were then called upon by the said Emancipation Act to give £27 million in free labour to their enslavers. The injustice and the cruelty of that Emancipation Act, remain today like a fish bone stuck in our throats.
We urge you, Madam Chair, and other members of this Parliament, to rise up and bring the Buxton vision to life. He was a noble warrior for reparatory justice; his spirit can return to this House, in both places, and the 21st century will be ours to forge a new moral order for our collective wellbeing.
On behalf of the CARICOM Reparations Commission, all my colleagues across the Caribbean who have worked with our governments in order to bring this case before you, I ask that you respond with humility and openness when your government receives an invitation to meet with our governments in summit in order to discuss this matter.
May the values and the spirit of development cooperation and mutual respect guide us all.
Thank you Madam Chair.
Posted by Overseas Review at 1:51 PM No comments:
Labels: Africa, Caribbean, CARICOM, Colonialism, emancipation, human rights violations, Latin America, reparation, slavery
24 July 2014
Non Aligned Movement (NAM) Ministers reiterate support for self-determination and decolonisation for dependent territories
NAM Ministers encourage implementation of the International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism for the remaining territories, and a a genuine self-determination process for French Polynesia/Ma'ohi Nui, Puerto Rico, the Turks and Caicos Islands and other remaining non self-governing territories.
XVII MINISTERIAL CONFERENCE
OF THE NON-ALIGNED MOVEMENT
26-29 May 2014
Right to Self-Determination and Decolonization
58. The Ministers reaffirmed and underscored the validity and relevance of the Movement's principled positions concerning the right to self-determination of peoples under foreign occupation and colonial or alien domination, as follows:
58.1 The Movement stressed the fundamental and inalienable right of all peoples, including all non-self governing territories, as well as those territories under foreign occupation and colonial or alien domination to self determination, the exercise of which, in the case of peoples under foreign occupation and colonial or alien domination, remains valid and essential to ensure the eradication of all these situations and to guarantee universal respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms;
58.2 The Movement reaffirmed the right of the people of Puerto Rico to self-determination and independence on the basis of General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV), and expressed its unwavering support to the resolutions on Puerto Rico adopted by the UN Special Committee on Decolonization; and called for their immediate implementation.Likewise, the Movement called for the release of the Puerto Rican political prisoners, including Oscar Lopez Rivera who has served more than thirty years in prison; and welcomed the release of Carlos Alberto Torres in 2010;
58.3 The Movement remained concerned at the loss, destruction, removal, theft, pillage, illicit movement or misappropriation of and any acts of vandalism or damage, directed against cultural property in areas of armed conflict and territories that are occupied.
59. Recalling the fiftieth anniversary of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, the Ministers welcomed the General Assembly resolution A/RES/65/119 declaring the period 2011-2020 as the Third International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism and called to speed up the process of decolonization towards the complete elimination of colonialism in this decade.
60. Consistent with and guided by the aforementioned principled positions and affirming the need to preserve, defend and promote these positions, the Ministers agreed to undertake the following measures, among others:
60.1 Strongly support the work and activities of the UN Special Committee on Decolonization, underlining the necessity of reinforcing the importance of its decisions and again urge the Administering Powers to grant their full support to the activities of the Committee and fully cooperate with this UN body;
60.2 Request the colonialist countries to pay full compensation for the economic, social and cultural consequences of their occupation, bearing in mind the right of all people who were or are still subjected to colonial rule or occupation to receive fair compensation for the human and material losses they suffered as a result of colonial rule or occupation;
60.3 Strongly condemn the ongoing brutal suppression of the legitimate aspirations to self-determination of peoples under colonial or alien domination and foreign occupation in various regions of the world;
60.4 Urge UN Member States to fully implement the decisions and resolutions of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO)concerning the return of cultural properties to the peoples who were or still under colonial rule or occupation, and in this regard, further urge UNESCO to identify the stolen or illegally exported cultural properties in accordance with the relevant conventions on the subject, and also urge the process of returning these properties to their countries of origin, in compliance with the relevant resolutions of the General Assembly, be expedited, bearing in mind the right of the Non-Aligned Countries to maintain and conserve their national heritage as it constitutes the foundation of their cultural identity;
60.5 Renew its call to UN Member States to speed up the process of decolonisation towards the complete elimination of colonialism, and including by supporting the effective implementation of the Plan of Action of the Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism (2011-2020);
60.6 The Ministers recalled the 2009 suspension of the Constitution Order of the Turks and Caicos Islands, which abolished the democratically elected House of Assembly and the Cabinet, and the subsequent institution of direct rule exercised by the administrating power for a period of three years. They took note of the provision of a new Constitution Order in 2012 providing for reduced political power to the elected government than previously maintained, and also took note of the subsequent election held in the territory in 2012. The Ministers welcomed the endorsement of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Heads of the Government of the report of its fact finding mission to the Turk and Caicos Islands in 2013, which called for, inter alia, a referendum on self-determination and mechanism for amending the Constitution Order;
60.7 Work towards the full implementation of the principle of self-determination with respect to the remaining territories within the framework of the Programme of Action of the Special Committee on Decolonisation, on a case by case basis, and in accordance with the wishes of the people consistent with the UN Charter and the relevant UN resolutions;
60.8 Oppose any attempt aimed at the partial or total disruption of the national unity and the territorial integrity of a State, which is incompatible with the UN Charter;
60.9 Call on the Government of the United States to assume its responsibility to expedite a process that will allow the Puerto Rican people to fully exercise their inalienable right to self-determination and independence, and urges the Government of the United States to return the occupied land and installations on Vieques Island and at the Roosevelt Roads Naval Station to the Puerto Rican people, who constitute a Latin American and Caribbean nation; and
60.10 Work actively to have the U.N. General Assembly to consider the question of Puerto Rico in all its aspects.
60.11 The Ministers affirmed the inalienable right of the people of French Polynesia- Ma' ohi Nui to self- determination in accordance with Chapter XI of the Charter of the United Nations and the UN General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV);
60.12 The Ministers welcomed and supported the Atlantic Regional Seminar on Decolonization held in Quito, Ecuador from 28 May to 30 May 2013 convened in Ecuador in its capacity as chair of the Special Committee on the Situation with regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples. The Ministers appreciated the commitment and efforts of the chair of the Committee to implement its decisions during the Third International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism;
60.13 The Ministers appreciated the commitment and efforts of the Chair of the Committee to implement its decisions during the Third International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism.
23 July 2014
Chagos Islands - Motion filed in U.K. Parliament to provide for right of return
Date tabled: 15.06.2004
Primary sponsor: Corbyn, Jeremy
That this House recognises the historical injustice of the removal of all the inhabitants from Diego Garcia and the Chagos Islands in order to make way for a US base on Diego Garcia; notes that under the terms of the British Overseas Territories Act 2002, British citizenship was granted to the inhabitants and their right of return was enshrined in the Court Order of 2000; is therefore astonished at the publication of the British Indian Ocean Territory (Legislation) Order 2004 and the British Indian Ocean Territory (Legislation) Order 2004 and the British Indian Ocean Territory (Constitution) Order 2004; and calls for the Government to rescind both.
Posted by Overseas Review at 8:47 AM No comments:
Labels: Chagos, Colonialism, human rights violations, Indian Ocean, international law, military, occupation, reparation, United Kingdom, United States
21 July 2014
US and West up to old tricks to derail the demand for reparations
December 12th Movement International
The latest front in Black folks’ struggle for reparations is taking place under the radar in the United Nations. Countries are now debating the proposed content of the UN’s upcoming International Decade for People of African Descent (IDPAD) , scheduled to begin January 1, 2015. The main obstacle to reaching agreement is “reparations.” The United States and the other slave-holding countries (in UN language, “WEO,” [Western European and Others, i.e. US, Canada, New Zealand, Australia])have said they will sabotage the IDPAD if the word is even mentioned in the program.
This is not a new tactic on their part. In 2001, Black folks’ organizing led to an historic declaration by the United Nations World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa, that the “Trans Atlantic Slave Trade and slavery” was a crime against humanity and that reparations were due the descendants of the victims. In an unsuccessful preemptive attempt to discredit the World Conference, the United States pulled out rather than agree to a final document that recognized African peoples’ right to reparations.
In the 13 years since the victory of the Durban Declaration and Program of Action [DDPA], the WEO group has relentlessly but unsuccessfully tried to “disappear” the DDPA from the United Nations. The proposed theme of the IDPAD is “Recognition, Justice, Development.” The WEO Group will not admit, much less, fulfill its legal, moral and historical obligation to repair the damage caused by the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade and slavery. This is why we cannot allow there to be an IDPAD which avoids the issue of reparations.
Make your voice heard. Join the struggle for an International Decade for People of African Descent which demands reparations.
They Stole Us! They Sold us! They Owe Us!
Please Spread the Word!
December 12th Movement International Secretariat (718)398-1766
Posted by Overseas Review at 7:10 PM No comments:
Labels: Africa, Atlantic, Colonialism, Europe, human rights violations, racism, reparation, slavery
20 July 2014
Humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons in the Pacific
|Photo by RADIO1TAHITI|
Statement by Hon. Richard TUHEIAVA
Senator for French Polynesia (French Senate, Paris)
BASEL OSCE Forum
4 July 2014
Session 3: “Humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons”
Dear Colleagues members of Parliaments
Dear PNND Colleagues,
Distinguished representatives of the Civil Society Organizations,
Ladies and gentlemen,
From 1946 to 1996 – over 50 years - the Pacific region has been the stage of nuclear set of three major nuclear powers, the United States of America, the United Kingdom and France. In the Pacific Region, there were in total 321 explosions of atomic and thermonuclear bombs, the equivalent of merely 11,430 Hiroshima bombs!
- Between 1946 and 1962, the United States of America detonated in the atmosphere of the Pacific 107 atomic and hydrogen bombs mainly above the atolls of Bikini, Enewetak, and Johnston Kiritimati, in the Marshall Islands. The total power generated by the 107 American bombs on these Pacific islands is equivalent to 9800 Hiroshima bombs while the total power of 100 air explosions conducted in Nevada in the continental United States of America is equivalent to 86 bombs of Hiroshima.
- Between 1952 and 1958, the U.K. has proceeded to 21 atomic and hydrogen nuclear tests in the atmosphere of Australia and Kiritimati atoll, or the power equivalent to 700 Hiroshima bombs.
- Between 1966 and 1996, France has proceeded to 193 nuclear tests in French Polynesia, 46 in the atmosphere above the two atolls of Moruroa and Fangataufa, a total power equivalent to 720 Hiroshima bombs, and 147 explosions in the basements of the two atolls , equivalent to 210 Hiroshima bombs power.
The humanitarian consequences of these nuclear explosions are devastating to the health of Pacific people and civilians as well as military personnel who have been employed in these nuclear programs.
Leukemia, thyroid cancer and other known to be radiation-induced cancers are abundant in all territories or countries affected by these experiences. Since 2010, French Polynesia, which now hosts 275,000 inhabitants, faces 640 new cases of cancer every year.
Scientific studies on the health consequences of nuclear testing in the Pacific region are virtually lacking. In Polynesia, one comprehensive study was conducted over the period covering the decade 1985-1995, and concluded that the nuclear tests in our territory were “safe” - but it was a Study funded by the French Ministry of Defense, which was responsible for conducting such nuclear experiments.
Among the 962 studies on cancer pathologies generated by the contamination cited in the 2006 report of the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR), only 22 studies have been conducted on populations living near nuclear test sites in the world, with only 6 in the Pacific, including 5 studies on the development of thyroid cancer in the Marshall Islands and one on the development of cancer in French Polynesia.
These issues do not only demonstrates a lack of interest from the scientific community to study the health consequences of nuclear tests, and the lack of political will of the nuclear Powers to assess the health consequences of their nuclear testing, but also the lack of funding in favour of independent studies in the Pacific region.
The environmental consequences of the 321 nuclear explosions in the Pacific region are also catastrophic. Formerly inhabited atolls and ancestral lands are permanently or partially prohibited from any permanent human activity.
I quote a few place names that resonate painfully in the memory of the peoples of our region of the Pacific: Bikini, Enewetak, Rongelap, Maralinga, Kiritimati, Moruroa, Fangataufa ...
We do not forget either that our great ocean served as a nuclear dump not only for discharges of contaminated military nuclear experiments, but also for contaminated waste of civilian nuclear activities or the testing of uranium munitions in the Pacific Rim materials.
Throughout the Pacific region, we count 26 marine sites radioactive waste discharges and 25 land sites stored with other radioactive waste. Most marine sites where hundreds of tons of radioactive materials has been dumped, are in no way identified on nautical charts used by fishing boats, and no studies on the possible contamination of the biological chain of these sites have been performed.
I allowed myself to list all these threats to our health and our environment that also threaten the future of our future generations because I know they are virtually unknown, ignored or forgotten by most of the 57 Member States of the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe OSCE.
Yet the three nuclear states which took responsibility for these disasters in the Pacific region are members of your organization.
As an elected Parliamentarian representing the Pacific community, I wanted to draw your attention to that part of our world that has suffered the ravages of nuclear weapons.
However, I do not forget the same consequences faced by all other regions and peoples of the world who had to undergo nuclear tests other nuclear powers.
To cite only other major regions devastated, here is the reminder: Semipalatinsk and Novaya Zemlya in the former USSR, Lop Nor in China, Reggane and Eker In the Algerian Sahara, Pokharan India, Pakistan Chagai, Hwaderi North Korea ...
The foundations of the OSCE based on security and cooperation are translated into measures of trust between our peoples.
Among the 10 principles of the OSCE Action, there are "respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms", "respect for the rights of minority peoples," "respect for the environment" and "equal rights and self-determination of peoples”.
Let’s recognize that although the founders of the OSCE principles allowed, during the Cold War period, to maintain relations between the two blocks, such principles have not been implemented by the nuclear Powers in favour of peoples and territories that have been or still are under their purview, as is the case of the territory of French Polynesia.
By what they experienced during half a century and the consequences they still are suffering as of today, states and countries in the Pacific are convinced that world security must be permanently free from the threat of nuclear weapons, as well as the fact that nuclear Powers still have a duty of compensation in favour of the victims of all their nuclear experiments. This is far from being achieved.
Our Pacific peoples are seeking Justice from the misuse/abuse of their lands and resources by the nuclear Powers. I would remind you that for decades, our Peoples stood up relentlessly against the violations of their rights to life and health:
- In 1954, the Marshall Islands, under the supervision of the United States, filed a petition with the Trusteeship Council of the United Nations to oppose nuclear testing in the United States in the islands under their administration,
- In 1967, in Suva, capital of Fiji, the Christian Association of Girls and the Christian Students Movement organized a meeting on nuclear testing proceeded in Moruroa, French Polynesia; that rose the awareness, throughout the Pacific region, of the harmfulness effects of nuclear weapons,
- In 1973, Australian, New Zealand and Fijian governments filed a lawsuit before the I.C.J. (International Court of Justice) to require the ceasing of atmospheric nuclear tests in France, which was obtained the following year;
- In 1980, supported by the Pacific churches, Pacific NGOs created a Movement "for an Independent Pacific free of nuclear weapons" (NFIP);
- In 1984, after 30 years of silence, the Australian government launched legal proceedings in London against the British government for the latter to clean-up Aboriginal lands contaminated by nuclear testing in the 1950s,
- In 1985, members of the Pacific Forum initiated the Treaty of Rarotonga creating a zone free of nuclear weapons in the South Pacific,
- In 1995, French Polynesia the exasperated local population, supported by Pacific States and civil society around the world, protested violently against the resumption of nuclear testing by France. The weight of this global protest against nuclear testing has contributed to the conclusion of treaty ban on French nuclear tests in 1996.
- In 2005, the Assembly of French Polynesia decided to conduct its own investigation, which updated the devastating human and environmental consequences of nuclear testing by France in Moruroa and Fangataufa, which forced the government of France to monitor some minimum environmental rehabilitation measures.
Since the first nuclear bomb exploded over Bikini Atoll June 30, 1946 until today, Pacific peoples have thus shown a constant and almost visceral opposition against the threat of nuclear weapons.
For several decades, with the consequences of these bombs in their health and environment, Pacific peoples are mobilizing to defend their rights vis-à-vis nuclear powers.
In April 2012, the Republic of the Marshall Islands has appealed to the Special Rapporteur of the Committee of Human Rights of the United Nations in its mission report recommended that the United States contribute to "mitigate and eliminate the harmful effects of nuclear tests "mainly health and environmental Marshall Islands.
This mobilization of Pacific peoples, including the people who live in French Polynesia, joined the common belief of some 146 states of the world expressed at the conferences in Oslo in 2013 and Nayarit in Mexico in February 2014 to initiate a process of prohibition of nuclear weapons because of their humanitarian impacts.
In this perspective, the Republic of the Marshall Islands filed April 24, 2014 before the International Court of Justice a lawsuit instituting proceedings against nine nuclear powers accused of "not fulfilling their obligations relating to cessation the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament" in accordance with Article 6 of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty and customary International Law.
The battle of the Pacific peoples and the world against nuclear weapons and for their rights to proper compensation are yet facing reluctance, intransigence, and unwillingness from the nuclear Powers.
As a matter of fact, the Ma’ohi people, crushed by a colonial system that has been imposed for nearly two centuries, does not intend to waver in its resistance to nuclear weapons and keeps calling upon the peoples around the world for support.
On 17 May 2013, the territory of French Polynesia territory, still under the administration of France from a U.N. Charter perspective, has been re-listed on the United Nations list of Non-Self Governing territories, as New Caledonia was back in 1986.
This re-inscription is absolutely not disconnected from the ongoing efforts made by the International Community towards a world free of nuclear weapons.
Indeed, the Special Committee on Decolonization of the United Nations was aware of "significant health and environmental benefits of nuclear tests carried out in the territory by the administering Power for thirty years”.
In addition, the Special Committee on Decolonization requested "the Secretary-General (of the UN) to compile a report on the environmental impact, environmental, health and others fallouts generated by the thirty-years period of Nuclear tests” in French Polynesia. This was endorsed as one of the operational paragraphs of a second resolution adopted on 11 December 2013 by the U.N. General Assembly in New York.
Thus, the highest authorities of the United Nations seem very concerned with the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons experiments.
Such expected report from the U.N. Secretary General, to be soon compiled on the French nuclear tests in French Polynesia, might be a new argument in the context of a world free of the burden of nuclear weapons.
In closing my remarks, I would like to thank the organizers and Host of this OSCE Forum and the Basel Peace Office for giving me the opportunity to remind, within the “heart” of Europe (here in Switzerland), the relentless and brave opposition of the peoples of the distant Pacific Region to the nuclear tests and weapons, as well as that of all the people who have suffered and still suffer human and environmental consequences of the tests of nuclear Powers.
On behalf of our Pacific elders and leaders that contributed to an "independent and Pacific free of nuclear weapons", we still act today with all diplomatic means and medias that are available to us to contribute to the outstanding efforts of the vast majority of states around the planet, the OSCE, the International Committee of the Red Cross, to build, as soon as possible, a world ultimately freed from nuclear weapons.
Posted by Overseas Review at 7:07 PM No comments:
Labels: aboriginal, Colonialism, French overseas territories, French Polynesia, human rights violations, Ma'ohi Nui, non self-governing territories, nuclear testing, radiation, United Nations
Subscribe to: Posts (Atom)