23 December 2015


Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands (photo by OTR)

The Editors, staff and interns of Overseas Territories Review extend best wishes to our readers for the holiday season
and for the New Year !

St. Croix, Virgin Islands (photo by OTR)

All the Best!


22 December 2015

The unfinished business of total liberation - Africa’s islands

Akyaaba Addai-Sebo

It is generally held that decolonisation of Africa ended with the fall of apartheid in South Africa in 1994. But the truth is that Britain, France, Spain and Portugal continue to colonise a number African islands.

Dr. Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana was categorical in his thinking about the ‘liberation and unification’ of Africa. He left no doubt that the total ‘political and economic’ liberation and unification of Africa included all the islands of Africa in the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, the Red Sea and the Mediterranean Sea. To emphasise this and to ensure that posterity does not relinquish, by benign neglect, any territory of Africa, Nkrumah in his books used maps with annotated listings of Africa’s islands to etch in the consciousness of the reader the fact that these islands are integral to the imperative of Africa’s total liberation and unification. To Nkrumah, no African land mass must be under colonisation, trusteeship or be alienated from the cause of African unity.

As we mark the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) and its Coordinating Committee for the Liberation of Africa (Liberation Committee), we must wake up to the fact that the United Kingdom, France, Spain and Portugal still hold a sizeable colony of islands in Africa’s territorial waters. It is refreshing, however, to note that some African countries, on their own, are laying claim to some of these ‘overseas possessions’ of these European ‘powers’.

As I write, it is ‘Not Yet Uhuru’ for the following islands: Ascension Island (United Kingdom); Saint Helena Island (United Kingdom); Tristan da Cunha Archipelago (United Kingdom); Bassas de India Atoll (France); Europa Island (France); Glorioso Islands (France); Iles Esparses (France); Juan de Nova Island (France); Mayotte Island (France); Reunion Island (France); Tromelin Island (France); Canary Islands (Spain); Ceuta (Spain) and Madeira (Portugal).

The disputed island territories are Bassas da India, Europa Island & Juan de Nova Island (Claimants: France and Madagascar. France claims sovereignty over these various uninhabited islands, and currently controls and protects them from its military base in nearby Réunion. They are in use as nature reserves and meteorological stations.); Glorioso (Glorieuses) Islands (Claimants: Comoros, France, Madagascar and the Seychelles. A nature reserve which is manned by French military forces; Mayotte (Claimants: Comoros and France. 

Operating as a French overseas collectivity since the 1970s, these islands are geographically part of the Comoros Islands, and just like their neighbours - the Glorioso Islands - they are also claimed by Comoros; Plazas de Soberanía (Claimants: Morocco and Spain. This is a collection of small Spanish-controlled city states and islands in North Africa, which all surround Morocco, and which have a combined total population of just over 140,000); Tromelin Island (Claimants: France, Mauritius and the Seychelles. France claims sovereignty over, and controls, this 1 mile long and mostly flat island, but Mauritius and the Seychelles both dispute the French ownership of this uninhabited isle) See disputed territories.

Nkrumah’s famous pronouncement that ‘...The independence of Ghana is meaningless unless it is linked up with the total liberation of the African continent’ also meant that the decolonisation of the African continent is meaningless unless it is linked to the total liberation of Africa’s islands.

Growing up in the 1950s and 1960s it was etched in our memories that ‘Africa without Madagascar was like a table without a chair; was like a tree without a trunk; was like a hand without fingers’; and such like puns that we would spin out of our heads as we played around in song, dance and games. This was the catechism of total liberation and unification in singsong rhymes which made the task of Africa’s decolonisation our conscious responsibility to prosecute ‘by any means necessary’. The core of this task was and has always been the ‘decolonisation of the mind’ from ‘mental slavery’ with due respect to Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o and Bob Marley.

This is what Nkrumah purposely set out to achieve with the setting up of an ideological institute and the Young Pioneers Movement. I was a proud Young Pioneer and when the army and the police struck on 24 February 1966 to overthrow the Nkrumah regime I had the presence of mind then to mobilise my fellow young pioneers at school to march into town to resist. We therefore remain colonised in mind, body and soul if we can alienate our islands from our collective consciousness while our Heads of State in a summit session duly dissolved the OAU Liberation Committee in June 1994 at Tunis. South Africa was our last settler colony to be liberated but in reality this is not so, as the pun ‘Africa without Madagascar...’ still rings true, with some of our islands still under colonial domination. 

The Heads of State at the summit in Tunis recognised that ‘the mandate given to the Liberation Committee in 1963 has been satisfactorily accomplished’ and therefore decided ‘to formally terminate that mandate’. The ‘mandate’ did not preclude the islands of Cape Verde, Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius, Sao Tome and Principe and Seychelles from becoming independent nation states within the African Union.

The mandate in a nutshell was assisting and expediting the process of decolonization and the elimination of apartheid. This therefore means that in the euphoria of the defeat of the apartheid regime we let slip off our minds the remaining task of the decolonisation of all of Africa’s islands. Battle fatigue and the psychological trap of the feeling that South Africa was the last frontier overpowered our sense of responsibility to these islands and as such we recklessly abandoned these islands to the UK, France, Spain and Portugal.

(Africa's Islands also include the Caribbean territories under the colonial administration of the UK and France, in addition to the U.S. and the Netherlands. All of these maintain colonies in various forms of dependency status in the Caribbean and are populated mainly by peoples of African descent. In this context, the African diaspora should not be omitted from this dialogue. - OTR) 

The question may be asked of what use are these far-flung islands to Africa? The answer lies in why is it that the UK would go to war, far, far away into the deep south of the Atlantic Ocean in order to secure the Falklands Islands (Malvinas) and keep it in UK’s sphere of interest? The rationale here is made unambiguously clear by a White Paper on Overseas Territories issued by the British government on Thursday, June 28, 2012. The document on the Overseas Territories (OT) declared there would be ‘no weakening’ in Britain's resolve to defend the Falkland Islands and other Overseas Territories.

The paper – which sets out a vision for the future of the 14 British Overseas Territories – was signed by the United Kingdom’s Prime Minister David Cameron and Foreign Secretary William Hague, and pledges to continue to ensure the ‘sovereignty over the Territories.’ In the text, the UK vows to guarantee the Overseas Territories citizens’ ‘right of self-determination’ and states the commitment to maintain military presence in order to assure UK’s sovereignty over the South Atlantic territories. Foreign Secretary Hague said: ‘We want OT to be vibrant, flourishing communities that proudly retain British identity’. Here the OT includes St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha, all part of Nkrumah’s list of islands of Africa that has yet to be de-colonised. (en.mercopress.com/2012/06/28/) 

The British ‘proudly’ seek to stamp and proudly retain their identity wherever they may be in the world in furtherance of their own self-interest. Nkrumah propagated the concept of the African Personality in order for Africans to proudly retain their identity. In May 1963, the founding fathers of the OAU set up the Liberation Committee to proudly stamp and retain our African identity by freeing the remaining parts of Africa, which were still under colonial and racist domination. Through the sterling work of the Committee the British, French, Portuguese, Spanish and Afrikaans could not retain their respective identities in continental Africa. The British White Paper – which sets out a vision for the future of the 14 British Overseas Territories - must be a wakeup call for the African Union Commission. It must as a matter of urgency seek a fresh mandate to apply themselves to the business of total decolonisation of all of Africa’s islands. In other words, the African Union commission must set out a vision for the immediate decolonisation, defence and development of our islands and affirm Africa’s sovereignty over these islands. It is our glorious ancestors who left us with the metaphor that: ‘You have something of value if you have land. You have something of value if you have water. Water is life and land is your essence. When you alienate land a bit of you dies.’ 

The African Union commission must act with a sense of urgency. Here it has the benefit of hindsight and South Africa, Namibia and Mozambique should offer themselves as the ‘frontline states’ as Tanzania and Zambia did. The task of decolonisation of these islands must not be left alone to our island nations of Madagascar, Mauritius, Comoros, Seychelles and also Morocco. Morocco remains part of Africa despite pulling out of the African Union over the refusal of the member states to recognise Morocco’s surrogate colonisation of Western Sahara for its phosphate and other rich minerals resources to serve the interest of the United States. 

The total decolonisation of Africa’s islands is a task that has to be undertaken and executed and I am personally calling on the African Union Commission to seek the wise counsel of Presidents Kaunda, Nujoma, Chissano and Mbeki and Ambassador Mohamed Sahnoun of Algeria and Speaker Theo-Ben Gurirab of Namibia. I strongly believe they will recommend the urgency of a fresh mandate to decolonise Africa’s Islands. Ambassador Sahnoun was the first Assistant Secretary-General of the OAU with special responsibility for the Liberation Committee. Dr. Theo-Ben Gurirab, outstanding freedom fighter and diplomat, was a former foreign minister and prime minister. The new mandate and vision to finish the business of decolonisation and total liberation must be anchored on the maxim: ‘African lands in African hands’.

Finally, in the words of Nkrumah: ‘...To us, Africa with its islands is just one Africa. We reject the idea of any kind of partition. From Tangiers or Cairo in the North to Cape Town in the South, from Cape Guardafui in the East to Cape Verde Islands in the West, Africa is one and indivisible.’ (AFRICA MUST UNITE; p. 217).

15 December 2015

U.N. General Assembly adopts 2015 resolutions on decolonisation

"The nations of the world have once again approved global policies intended to to bring about full self-government for the remaining small island Caribbean and Pacific dependencies administered by European and North American countries. These agreed strategies  for a genuine process of self-determination provide an essential roadmap for decolonisation, but can only be realised if the political will exists among the member States and U.N. system alike to carry out the implementation of these guidelines." - a Caribbean decolonisation expert.


United Nations Press Release


General Assembly Adopts 28 Fourth Committee Texts Covering Issues Including Decolonization, Outer Space, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Two Actions Postponed until Later Date, 
as Plenary Acts Directly on Three Drafts
Upon the recommendation of its Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization), the General Assembly adopted 25 draft resolutions and three draft decisions tackling issues ranging from decolonization issues to outer space activities, to the long-standing Israeli-Palestinian conflict and beyond.

The Assembly also took direct plenary action, adopting three outstanding texts on the return or restitution of cultural property to the countries of origin, the situation in Afghanistan, and the report of the Economic and Social Council.

Closely following the Fourth Committee’s recommendations, it adopted, without a vote, a series of annual texts relating to the decolonization of specific Non-Self-Governing Territories. They included draft resolutions affirming the right to self-determination for the peoples of Western Sahara, New Caledonia, French Polynesia and Tokelau.

Also without a vote, the Assembly adopted the Fourth Committee’s annual “omnibus” draft on the questions of American Samoa, Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Guam, Montserrat, Pitcairn, Saint Helena, Turks and Caicos Islands and the United States Virgin Islands.

It adopted a related draft resolution, “Information from Non-Self-Governing Territories transmitted under Article 73 e of the Charter of the United Nations”, by a recorded vote of 175 in favour to none against, with 4 abstentions (France, Israel, United Kingdom, United States). By that text, the Assembly requested that the administering Powers concerned transmit regularly to the Secretary-General statistical and other information of a technical nature relating to economic, social and educational conditions in the Territories for which they were respectively responsible.

Meanwhile, it adopted a draft resolution on “Economic and other activities which affect the interests of the peoples of the Non-Self-Governing Territories” by a recorded vote of 176 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with 2 abstentions (France, United Kingdom). By its terms, the Assembly affirmed the value of foreign economic investment undertaken in collaboration with the peoples of those Territories and in accordance with their wishes, in order to make a valid contribution to the socioeconomic development of the Territories, especially during times of economic and financial crisis.

By a recorded vote of 175 in favour to 3 against (Israel, United Kingdom, United States), with 1 abstention (France), the Assembly also adopted a draft on “Dissemination of information on decolonization”, by which it requested that the United Nations undertake efforts to give publicity to its work in the field of decolonization.

The Assembly adopted another draft resolution — “Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples by the specialized agencies and the international institutions associated with the United Nations” — by a recorded vote of 126 in favour to none against, with 53 abstentions. By that text, the Assembly urged those and other organizations of the United Nations system that had not yet provided assistance to the Non-Self-Governing Territories to do so as soon as possible.

A draft resolution titled “Offers by Member States of study and training facilities for inhabitants of Non-Self-Governing Territories” was adopted without a vote. In addition, the Assembly postponed until a later date its consideration of a draft resolution, “Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples”, pending a review by the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) of the programme budget implications of adopting that text.

Taking up two draft resolutions on questions relating to information, the Assembly adopted both without a vote, the first being a text titled “Information in the service of humanity” and the second, “United Nations public information policies and activities”.


08 December 2015

Contemporary independence is an exercise in inter-dependence

Palau cited as example of "a different way to develop oneself, one which is focused on long terms gains and goals and not short terms ones."


For those thinking about the future of Guam, especially in the context of decolonization, we should stop looking to the United States, but instead look to Palau/Belau. Many of our ideas about decolonization or independence and therefore political possibility are tied to the way we perceive the United States. We see it as being the model for the way a country should live and exist today. 

We are conditioned in an endless number of ways each day and over the course of our lives here to see the United States as the pinnacle of possibility. That if we are to live anyway, it should be the images we have of it. We look to other large and powerful countries as distant alternatives, but always we see America as being where its at. The way we see America however is far from objective. Our gaze drips with colonial nonsense. 

When the first discussions on political status change and decolonization started to emerge in Guam, one constant refrain of resistance was the notion that Guam could never be self-sustaining and self-sufficient and therefore independent the way the United States is. As a result independence is impossible and we shouldn't try. But as the late Guam Senator Frank Lujan reminded people in his article "Sleeping Beauty: Time Passes By,"

"Those who defend Guam's colonial status argue that economic independence for Guam is impractical. We happen to agree. Guam by herself can never be economically independent. But nor can our great mother country the United States. There no longer is any such animal as an independent nation in the world today...All nations in the latter part of the 20th century are economically interdependent."

This is such an important reminder, on so many levels. It is a reminder that many things which we assume to be true and bedrock facts, may simply be fear and ignorance. To imagine that Guam has to take care of everything on its own and can't get any help from others is ridiculous. 

Every independent nation works with others. The difference between a colony and an independent country is that a country gets to choose who it wishes to associate with. As a colony, you are stuck with your colonizer's list of friends and enemies. But this is also a reminder that we should look at places closer to home when trying to imagine independence for Guam. Places who were once colonized who are using their autonomy and their resources and potential advantages to the best of their abilities. Places, such as Palau/Belau. 

It is making headlines around the world lately, for pioneering a number of environmental programs. Whereas most countries give some lip service to the environment, but are actually ravaging their natural resources with chaotic and frantic speed and efficiency, Palau is hitting the breaks. They are showing us a different way to develop oneself, one which is focused on long terms gains and goals and not short terms ones. They are not seeking to sell off their fish, their lakes, their waters, their lands as quickly as possible in order to get as much money as possible as quickly as possible. They are instead seeking a way to protect what is precious and irreplaceable and should be beyond value in terms of money.

03 December 2015

UN Envoy for Western Sahara Confirms Ban Ki-moon Will Visit in 2016

ALGIERS – Christopher Ross, the United Nations special envoy for Western Sahara, confirmed on Tuesday that UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will visit the territory in the coming months in an attempt to give impetus to the peace process.

According to the Algerian news agency APS, Ross pointed out that the goal of Ban’s visit will be to “make a contribution to the quest for a solution to this conflict that has lasted too long.”

The UN envoy arrived in Algeria on Monday at the beginning of a regional tour aiming to persuade Morocco and the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, or SADR, to resume peace negotiations.

Algeria, which has been hosting some 160,000 Saharawi refugees for 40 years, was the first stop of Ross’ 10-day trip that will also include the Algerian town of Tindouf, adjacent to the refugee camps, Morocco and probably Mauritania.

Ross was received by Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, Algerian Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Ramtane Lamamra, and Minister of Maghreb Affairs, African Union and Arab League Abdelkader Messahel.

The tour comes amid repeated calls from Ban Ki-moon to resume negotiations between the two parties of the conflict with a view to reaching a solution in accordance with the United Nations relevant resolutions.

The negotiation process stalled some years ago due to the opposing positions of both sides in the conflict, since SADR demands a referendum on self-determination, while Rabat opposes this option and proposes to grant more autonomy to the former Spanish colony, but to remain under Moroccan sovereignty.

02 December 2015

Taiwan Announces Presidential Visit to Disputed South China Sea Island

TAIPEI – Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou will visit the disputed Itu Aba Island in South China Sea on Dec. 12, to reaffirm Taiwanese sovereignty over the area and reiterate his peace initiative for the region, Taiwanese media reported Tuesday.

Apple Daily, Taiwan’s most circulated newspaper and which has no political leanings, citing unnamed sources from the National Security Bureau, reported the president will also inaugurate a new wharf on the island.

Presidential spokesperson Chen Yi-hsin did not rule out Ma’s visit but did not confirm it either. Ma’s predecessor, Chen Shui-bian, visited the Taiwan-controlled island in February 2008, but since then no other president has visited Itu Aba.

On Tuesday, Ma, during an informal interaction with reporters, refused to rule out a visit to Taiping Island (another name for Itu Aba), but said there was no date fixed as yet.

With an area of 0.49 square kilometers (0.19 sq miles), Taiping, where Taiwan maintains a garrison of coast guards, is the largest natural land mass in the Spratley Islands.

South China Sea, presumably rich in oil, natural gas and other marine resources, has been the scene of escalating territorial conflict between Brunei, China, Malaysia, Taiwan, Vietnam, and the Philippines.

The Taiwanese president proposed a peace initiative for the region in May, suggesting all concerned countries leave aside their territorial disputes and jointly develop the natural resources.

Tensions in the region have intensified in recent years with the construction of artificial islands by China and the sending of naval vessels by the United States to the disputed region.

Kosovo fails by three votes to secure membership in UNESCO

The Economist


There is something supremely changeless about the daily rites of an Orthodox Christian monastery, such as the 700-year-old community of Visoki Decani on the western fringe of Kosovo, which occupies one of the most aesthetically graceful, and gloriously decorated, religious monuments in Europe. But in recent days the abbot, Sava Janjic, has been combining his liturgical duties as a Serbian Orthodox priest with another activity: using social media to explain why his community has opposed Kosovo's admission to UNESCO, the UN's cultural arm. For example, he has been posting pictures on Facebook, including a recent baptism, and a shot of a desecrated Serbian cemetery.

On the face of things, his efforts have borne fruit. This week, Kosovo (a land that was wrested from Serbian control after a NATO bombing campaign in 1999) failed by three votes to secure the two-thirds majority needed to join the cultural agency: some 92 nations voted in favour, 50 voted against and 29 abstained. Russia backed its historic ally Serbia in opposing the admission, which would have been a big boost to Kosovo's efforts to consolidate its statehood, currently recognised by 111 countries.

But as is well understood by Father Sava, who has long enjoyed a reputation as an internet-savvy "cybermonk", the story will not end here. Kosovo's ethnic-Albanian masters are insisting that they will redouble their efforts to join international organisations and in due course reapply to UNESCO. At issue is whether or not the Kosovo government can be relied on to protect the country's historic Orthodox Christian places of worship, four of which (including Decani) have been recognised by UNESCO as World Heritage sites and been placed at Serbia's behest on a list of cultural monuments in danger.

The Kosovo government insists that it will take good care of the Orthodox sites, which were put under the protection of international peacekeepers after the conflict of 1998-99 in which hundreds of religious monuments (Serbian churches and cemeteries as well as Albanian Muslim mosques and shrines) came under attack. Serbs point out that that even with international guards, their sites can be vulnerable; NATO forces failed to stop thousands of ethnic-Albanian rioters wrecking historic churches when they ran amok in Prizren and elsewhere in 2004. Kosovo Albanians retort that the ringleaders of that riot have been prosecuted, while Serbs have never said sorry for the religious vandalism which they perpetrated. These days Decani is the only Orthodox site in Kosovo which is internationally guarded.

Although the fear is over-blown, ordinary Serbs worry that if given the chance, the Kosovar authorities would simply take over the Serbian Orthodox monasteries and churches and expel the monks. For the 130,000 Serbs who still live in Kosovo, alongside 1.8m ethnic Albanians, seeing their kin lose control of those monasteries would be a devastating blow.

The argument over UNESCO has severely strained relations between figures in Kosovo who were previously seen as advocates of reconciliation, such as Father Sava on one side and Petrit Selimi, Kosovo's deputy foreign minister on the other. Mr Selimi has deplored the fact that the Serbian government and the Serbian church have, in his view, been working in close cahoots to block UNESCO entry. All other religious organisations active in Kosovo (Muslims, including Sufis, Catholics and Protestants) have signed a letter strongly supporting UNESCO membership, as Mr Selimi stresses. During the campaign Father Sava and Mr Selimi have been duelling on Twitter. 

For Serbia and many of its diplomatic supporters, including Russia, the UNESCO issue is part of a broader concern: a refusal to accept what they see as Serbia's forcible breakup through a NATO bombing campaign. But Father Sava is making a much narrower and more nuanced point: he thinks the UNESCO bid should not go ahead in the absence of some breakthrough in the so-called Brussels dialogue involving the European Union, Serbia and Kosovo. The EU has been trying to persuade Serbia and Kosovo to find a way of living together, pending the eventual entry of both places into the Union. Father Sava also points out that Martti Ahtisaari, the Finnish envoy who laid out a plan for Kosovo's independence, always insisted on international guarantees for holy sites; in the cleric's view, this proposal has been brushed aside.

What really worries the Serbian monks is the argument made by some Kosovo Albanian academics that the land's historic churches, despite their frescoes of Serbian kings, are in fact part of the Albanian Catholic heritage, and that the Serbs are interlopers.

Even as things are, life can be hard for Decani's 24 monks and novices who offered succour to all sides during the bitter fighting of 1999. Much of the local ethnic-Albanian population is hostile, and the monks have not ventured on foot into the nearby town in many years. The monastery has also been fighting a long battle with the local authorities over the ownership of land adjacent to the monastery.

It does not help that the Orthodox Serbs of Kosovo are internally divided. Their current spiritual leader is Bishop Teodosije, a former abbot of Decani; he took over from another prelate, Artemije, who pioneered the monastic revival in Kosovo but has been defrocked, in part because he now takes a harder line, both politically and theologically, than the church leadership in Serbia. Some Serbs still support the dissident cleric.

In recent years, Decani's magnificent walls have been daubed with Islamist graffiti and shot at with rockets. But, in the immediate wake of the battle over UNESCO Father Sava says he does not expect new attacks because “they would be highly harmful for Kosovo and would only confirm allegations that it is becoming an Islamist society and as such unacceptable for Europe." In a roundabout way, the high volume of arguments over Kosovo's UNESCO bid could serve as a sort of protection, however temporary, for the monastery.

01 December 2015

U.S. Virgin Islands Lecture Series on 100th anniversary as a territory

United States Virgin Islands Centennial 2017

5th elected Governor of the territory Dr. Charles Turnbull and Senator Myron Jackson among speakers on pre-Columbian Virgin Islands at the 3rd December 2015 session in Saint Thomas. 

The Centennial Commission has been established to commemorate the 100th anniversary in 2017 of the transfer of the Danish West Indies to the United States; thus becoming the Virgin Islands of the United States.  March 31st of every year is recognized as the official Transfer Day in the USVI.   
Each year, the Territory acknowledges the anniversary by symbolically lowering the Danish flag and raising the Stars and Stripes.  The first and official ceremony took place on St. Thomas on the grounds of the Legislature at 4 P.M. on March 31, 1917.
The public is invited to attend a series of presentations and lectures on the pre-Columbian period of the Virgin Islands and the Caribbean in general.  We are pleased to announce that these Lectures will be in association with the University of the Virgin Islands Caribbean Cultural Center.

The series began on St. Croix at the U.V.I. on November 19th and will continue as follows on St. Thomas and St. John:
On December 3, 2015 the series will continue on St. Thomas, U.V.I. Conference Center on the St. Thomas campus, and the presenters will be, former Governor, Dr. Charles Turnbull, Senator Myron Jackson, Mr. David Hayes and Dr. Chenzira Kahina.  6:30 to 9:00pm.
On December 10, 2015 the presenters will be Ken Wilke, David Hayes, Dr. Chenzira Kahina, and Senator Myron Jackson.  The time and place TBA.
For more information you may contact Dr. Eugene Petersen at 340 690 0617 or visit us on facebook: United States Virgin Islands Centennial 2017

30 November 2015

Guam, Marianas brace for massive US military redeployment


Thousands of American military personnel are expected to arrive in the Mariana Islands over the next several years, as part of the US strategic “pivot” to East Asia. Many will come from Okinawa, Japan, where many local residents want US bases closed.
Military facilities in Guam, the archipelago’s largest island and a US possession since 1898, have been reinforced and updated in anticipation of almost 5,000 Marines, as well as new aircraft, submarines and patrol boats. The infrastructure upgrades will “elevate the tiny Pacific island into a maritime strategic hub, a key element laid out by the Pentagon in the Asia-Pacific Maritime Security Strategy,” according to the US military newspaper Stars and Stripes.


29 November 2015

Afrodescendientes succeed in regaining their ancestral lands

BOGOTA – The Afro-Colombian community of Rio Naya has been granted title to approximately 188,000 hectares (725 sq. miles) of land that they historically occupied, the Colombian Rural Development Institute, known as Incoder, said Tuesday.

The awarding of the land, which straddles the boundary between the southwestern provinces of Cauca and Valle del Cauca, finally wraps up a lawsuit filed in 1999 when the more than 16,000 Rio Naya inhabitants presented Incoder with a demand for collective ownership.

The process of awarding title to the territory was achieved thanks to a December 2014 ruling of the Council of State ordering the University of Cauca to turn over the land to Incoder.

“This is the greatest possible move toward recognizing the ethnic, cultural, territorial, social, economic and political rights of the Afro-Colombian population and for strengthening its right to own and occupy the land of its ancestors,” Incoder said.

The Rio Naya community council is made up of 4,551 families distributed among the municipalities of Buenaventura, Valle del Cauca, and Lopez de Micay, Cauca, and currently has 64 villages.

The chief economic activities of this community are mining, hunting and fishing.

The collective land ownership of the black community in the Naya region is “a true act of reconciliation of the country with a forgotten community that has suffered all the hardships of war,” Incoder said.

27 November 2015

U.S. regulation seeks to transform Hawaiians into 'indian tribe'

Hawaii Free Press

Final Interior Dep't Rule Allows OHA Hawaiians to Steal Land from DHHL Hawaiians

By Andrew Walden 

In Hawaii all eyes are on the US Department of Interior Proposed "Procedures for Reestablishing a Formal Government-to-Government Relationship with the Native Hawaiian Community."

The Feds solemnly promise, "The proposed rule recognizes HHCA beneficiaries' unique status under Federal law and protects that status."
But another DoI Rule "RIN 1076–AE93 Secretarial Election Procedures"--finalized October 19, 2015, but unnoticed in Hawaii--makes those promises worthless.  RIN 1076–AE93 allows Tribal Trustees to rewrite the Tribe's Governing Documents without Federal oversight and even without a Tribal membership vote.

Under US Indian Law, certain types of Tribal elections had required oversight by the Bureau of Indian Affairs to ensure fairness and honesty.  The new rule eliminates the requirement for these so-called "Secretarial Elections."   
The Final Rule states: 

“Once the requirement for Secretarial approval is removed ... future elections will be purely tribal elections, governed and run by the tribe rather than BIA. Additionally, without a requirement for Secretarial approval, the (tribal) constitution will no longer be governed by the other election-related requirements of the IRA, such as the minimum number of tribal voters to make an election effective. Such matters will be governed by tribal policy decisions rather than Federal ones.”
In fact no election would be required at all if the Tribal Governing Documents say so:

"The 1990 amendments to the Indian Reorganization Act (IRA)...(allow) the tribal governing body, rather than 'a majority vote of the adult Indians living on the reservation,' to ratify the charter. ...a Secretarial election is required to amend a charter only if the charter itself states that a Secretarial election is required...." 
Tribal Trustees could simply vote to change the DHHL blood quantum from 50% to 25% or even 1% and thereby seize lands that are now reserved for Hawaiian Homesteaders under the 1921 Hawaiian Homes Commission Act and the Hawaii Admission Act.

Even if the 'Aha comes up with Governing Documents full of flowery language about protecting the rights of Hawaiian Homes beneficiaries, that language could be stripped out later--without a vote of the Tribal membership. 
Thanks to the DoI Final Rule "RIN 1076–AE93 Secretarial Election Procedures"--approved just two weeks ago--this would all be perfectly legal under US law.


LINKRIN 1076–AE93 Secretarial Election Procedures

ICTWashburn Pushes Self-Determination Again with Final Rule on Secretarial Elections


26 November 2015

Protest Against Black Pete

Black Pete

WILLEMSTAD – Upon the arrival of Sinterklaas in Curaçao next Saturday Museo Tula (Tula Museum) will protest against this, what they call, racist tradition. This was announced by Stanley Quirindongo on behalf of the museum.

“We need to come up with a new tradition. We are not giving value to our color with the Black Pete. It doesn’t even matter if they paint their faces all kinds of other colors. Let’s stop with this tradition,” said Quirindongo.
Museo Tula points out that the human history and civilization have begun in Africa. Despite the humiliating century of slavery, our forefathers have always ensured that there is mutual concern and cooperation between the people. “Still our youth don’t even know about their African roots.”
In this ‘atmosphere of ignorance’ we celebrate every year Sinterklaas. “The white man on the horse who looks down on his helpers. This black man is stupid and a clown, he can only do strange things.”
It is a Dutch children’s tradition. Quirindongo says that it is full of humiliating elements and it is also a racist tradition.
World Beyond War . . .

Okinawa delegation in Washington to Challenge Construction of U.S. Marine Air Base Runway

By Ann Wright
A 26 person delegation from the All Okinawa Council will be in Washington, DCNovember 19 and 20 to ask members of the U.S. Congress to use their power to stop the construction of runway for the U.S. Marine base at Henoko into the pristine waters of the South China Sea.
The delegation is concerned about the environmental impact of the new facilities, including a runway to be built into the coral areas and natural habitat of the marine mammal, the dugong and the continued militarization of their island. Over 90% of all U.S. military bases in Japan are located in Okinawa.
The Henoko construction plan faces substantial opposition from the people of Okinawa.  Protests of 35,000 citizens, Including many senior citizens, against the construction of the base have rocked the island.
The issue of the Henoko relocation plan has taken a critical turn. On October 13th, 2015, Okinawa’s new Governor Takshi Onaga revoked the land reclamation approval for the Henoko base construction, which was granted by the previous governor in December 2013.
The All Okinawa Council is a civil society organization, consisting of members of civil society organizations/groups, local assemblies, local communities, and business establishments.
Members of the delegation will have meetings with several Congresspersons and staffers on November 19 and 20 and will hold a briefing in the U.S. House of Representatives in Rayburn building room 2226 at 3pm on Thursday, November 19. The briefing is open to the public.
At 6pm on Thursday, November 19, the delegation will host a showing of the documentary “Okinawa: The Afterburn” at the Brookland Busboys and Poets, 625 Monroe St., NE, Washington, DC 20017.
The film is a comprehensive picture of the 1945 Battle of Okinawa and the 70-year occupation of the island by the US military.
On Friday, November 20, the delegation will hold a rally at the White House at noon and asks for support from local organizations opposed to expansion of U.S. military bases around the world.
The Henoko base construction in Okinawa would be the second base in Asia and the Pacific to be used by US military that has faced enormous citizen outrage as both bases will destroy environmentally sensitive areas and increase the militarization of their countries.  The construction of the South Korean naval base on Jeju Island that will homeport ships carrying the US Aegis missiles has caused massive citizen protests.
About the Author:  Ann Wright served 29 years in the US Army/Army Reserves and retired as a Colonel.  She was a US diplomat for 16 years and resigned in 2003 in opposition to the Iraq war.  She has travelled to both Okinawa and Jeju Island to speak on U.S. military bases and sexual assault by US military members on women in the local communities.<--break->

25 November 2015

French court in French Polynesia hears nuclear test victims case


The Court of Appeal in French Polynesia has heard the case of two former nuclear test workers who claim they experienced health problems after being exposed to radiation from French nuclear weapons testing at Mururoa.

The case has been subject to a number of appeals since the case was brought in 2009.

The head of the nuclear test veterans organisation Mururoa e tatou, Roland Oldham, says the process for the veterans has been very slow, and one the workers involved in the case has died.

He says he is confident the case will be found in favour of the victims.

“Because the Centre of Atomic Energy didn't bring up any new proof. It is just the strategy of the French government as usual, to drag on and drag on and drag on and drag on. Because in between as I say, one of the workers is dead. The other one is still alive, but just.”

Roland Oldham says the Court of Appeal is expected to deliver its verdict in February.

He says of 900 workers who have been affected by nuclear testing, only 16 have been compensated.