29 June 2015

French control of Polynesia mineral resources violates international law

Political leader calls on United Nations to publish independent self-governance asessment and analysis on effects of nuclear testing in address to the United Nations   

Hon. Richard TUHEIAVA (r) Elected member
of the House of Assembly of French Polynesia, and Roch Wamytan, 

President of the Kanak and Socialist National Liberation Front (FNLKS) 
(photo: OTR)

Statement to Special Committee on Decolonization 
Hon. Richard TUHEIAVA 
Elected member of the House of Assembly of French Polynesia (UPLD Group)  
NEW YORK 26 June 2015 

Mr. Chairman, members of the Special Committee on Decolonization, 

Thank you for the opportunity to address you on the question of Ma'ohi Nui/French Polynesia. I speak in my capacity as an elected member of the House of Assembly of French Polynesia from the Group “Union Pour La Démocratie” (U.P.L.D.) led by H.E. President Oscar Temaru. I join with President Temaru in extending our warmest regards to the member States. 

We regard with the utmost seriousness the obligation the international community has accepted by adopting consensus General Assembly Resolution 67/265 on 17th May 2013 re-inscribing our territory, following more than 60 years of omission from the list. 

The intense effort and sacrifice we exerted in gaining our re-inscription is indication of our commitment to the full compliance with the United Nations Charter, and full implementation of decolonization resolutions, while recognizing that these mandates are only as good as their implementation. 

We make specific note of Article 73(b) of the Charter which obligates the administering powers to prepare the territories for full self-government, and Article 73(e) of the Charter which requires compulsory transmission of accurate information to the U.N. on our territory, which has not been transmitted since our re-inscription in 2013 1/

As we have observed before, if countries are allowed to pick and choose which parts of the U.N. Charter they would implement, and which parts they would not, then their aggressive claims of adherence to the international ‘rule of law’ in other circumstances ring particularly hollow.

In this case, recent pronouncements by administering power officials reflect a continual denial that our current political status is non self-governing, and they engage in an ongoing strategy to project the dependency status as a self-governing democracy. 

We advised this Committee in 2014 of the independent "Assessment on the level of self-government of French Polynesia" which analyzed the inconsistencies of our dependency status with international principles of self-government. The study provided critical political analysis unavailable to member States, and we ask this committee to have the updated Self-Governance Assessment published as a document of the General Assembly. 

Right to left, Hon. TUHEIAVA, Michael Forrest, Secretary
of the International Relations Unit of FNLKS,  Hon. Wamytan,
New Caledonia Vice President Jean-Louis d'Anglebermes
(photo: OTR)

Mr. Chairman, 

We also take specific note of various General Assembly directives given to the U.N. system to implement decolonization resolutions. In this regard, due attention should be given to the reasons why the U.N. machinery may not have carried out these directives 25 years on from the beginning of the first International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism. 

While we appreciate the several Secretary-General reports on the implementation of the decolonization mandate, the conclusions do not address the reasons for the inadequate implementation. In this connection, of particular relevance to French Polynesia/Ma'ohi Nui, is the repeated call for a case-by-case work programme, in conjunction with the administering power, to facilitate the implementation of the decolonization mandate. 

Since our administering power has not seen fit to comply with its Article 73 (e) obligations, it can only be concluded that there would be no compliance with any case-by-case work programme. Rather than assume that such a work programme cannot be undertaken for French Polynesia, we ask this committee to return to the language of earlier resolutions adopting the case-by-case approach that do not require an initial role of the administering power (A/Res/54/91). 
Hon. TUHEIAVA delivers statement
to U.N. Decolonization Commmittee
(photo: OTR)

Mr. Chairman, 

The international community has made historic efforts to end the scourge of nuclear testing with the entering into force of the bilateral Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (1963) and the comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (1996). These efforts were directly relevant to Maohi Nui/French Polynesia since our people were the victims of 193 atmospheric and underground nuclear tests over a thirty-years period ending in 1996. 

These tests discharged the total power equivalent of 720 Hiroshima bombs in the atmosphere, and the equivalent of 210 Hiroshima bombs underground.

One does not have to be a nuclear scientist to conclude that the health and other humanitarian consequences of these inhumane experiments have been devastating to our people. 

As former President of French Polynesia, Hon. Oscar Temaru, told the Pacific Islands Forum in 2011, "our people are dying of several nuclear related illnesses that are bound to be passed to many generations to come." 

We take note of General Assembly Resolution 68/93 which called for the Secretary-General to conduct a report "on the environmental, ecological, health and other impacts as a consequence of the thirty year period of nuclear testing in the territory," and Resolution 69/103 which took note of the required report which was curiously published a month after the end of the 2014 session of the C-24, thus not permitting any discussion of its findings. 

It was left to us to record in our statement to the Fourth Committee last October that the Secretary-General's Report was "far from comprehensive, and is rather a compilation of replies from just two U.N. agencies out of some 22 requests for information. 

Of these replies was a reference to an outdated 1996 International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) study which said that the impact to the health of the Ma’ohi people was negligible”. This finding has been proven to be grossly premature. A subsequent document of the U.N. Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation quite properly found “that the testing of nuclear weapons in the atmosphere involved unrestrained releases of radioactive materials to the environment locally, regionally and globally (depending on the altitude of the explosion), causing the largest collective dose thus far from manmade sources of radiation." 

A stakeholder statement presented to the 2013 Human Rights Council Universal Peer Review of France concluded that 17 years after the last French nuclear test was held in the Pacific, our people are still "living with the legacy of hundreds of nuclear tests." 

In effect, Mr. Chairman, the 2014 Secretary-General's Report barely scratches the surface, and this is illustration that more attention must be given to the substantive quality of such reports which have their genesis in the C-24. 

Instead, the report in question fails to address the impacts experienced today by thousands of our people who have yet to be given reparatory justice for this blatant disregard of humanity perpetuated upon them. Fortunately, we can draw attention to the publication of the Independent Report on French Nuclear Testing in French Polynesia completed in 2014 by renowned French scientist Bruno Barrillot that provides a comprehensive analysis of the impacts of nuclear testing. We ask this Committee to advance its publication as a document of the General Assembly for the consideration of member States in order that they can have a more complete picture. 

Ma'ohi Nui (New Caledonia), Kanaky (New Caledonia)
 political leaders address U.N.
(photo: OTR) 

Owing to the clear evidence of the impacts of this nuclear testing, we requested the Fourth Committee last year to include in the French Polynesia resolution the recommendation that the U.N. Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation consider our inclusion in that committee's programme of work. We recognized, however, that such amendments to draft resolutions at the Fourth Committee are rarely facilitated, and given that our statement today comes on the final day of the C-24 session, it would be logical to conclude that our recommendations would not be integrated into the draft resolution today.

In this connection, we ask you to amend your method of work to allow for the question of French Polynesia to be considered in the first week of the Special Committee session to ensure that relevant information brought to you can be reflected in the text, especially given that much of it is not included in the working Paper. 

Another key omission from the U.N. documentation is the historical adoption of a resolution last November 2014 by the elected members of the Assembly of French Polynesia calling upon France to acknowledge the colonial nature of its nuclear testing programme over the thirty years of military occupation of the atolls of Moruroa and Fangataufa where the testing was primarily conducted, and which France continues to hold. 

The resolution creates an expert committee to assess and evaluate the financial damages caused by the occupation. This was also curiously omitted from the Working Paper - perhaps because the administering power opposed any such reference.

Mr. Chairman, 

The General Assembly has adopted a host of resolutions confirming that the ownership, control and permanent sovereignty of natural resources, including marine resources, lies with the peoples of the non self governing territories as part of their heritage. 

A 2002 United Nations legal opinion cited the U.N. Charter, U.N. resolutions and the jurisprudence of the International Court of Justice in support. The Legal Memorandum emphasized the importance of decisions of the U.N. General Assembly regarding "the principle of permanent sovereignty over natural resources as the right of peoples...to use and dispose of the natural resources in (the) territories in the interest of their national development and well-being." /2 

The Memorandum made the point that "...the legal nature of the (territories') permanent sovereignty over natural resources... is indisputably part of customary international law." 

U.N. resolutions have also affirmed that the exploitation and plundering of these resources by foreign economic interests is in violation of relevant U.N. resolutions, and is a threat to the territories' integrity and prosperity. Resolutions further emphasized that any administering Power that deprives the peoples of these territories of the exercise of their legitimate rights over their natural resources violates the solemn obligations it has assumed under the U.N. Charter. 

Notwithstanding these clear precepts of international law, the administering power continues a process of usurping the marine resources of our people under the aegis of its successive Organic Laws unilaterally applied to us. 

Accordingly, the access, ownership and rights of the Ma’ohi People of French Polynesia to its 5 million square kilometers of Economic Exclusive Zone of deep ocean is illegally under the full control of the administering power which claims our resources as 48 % of the French maritime zone. The resources include the vast array of “strategic metals” such as rare earths, manganese, cobalt, and more. 

French delegation prepares to leave meeting to avoid discussion
on colonialism in French Polynesia.  
(photo: OTR)

Further unilateral exploitation occurs by other means. Revenue in the form of fees paid by more than ten airlines to land at our own Tahiti International Airport goes to the French treasury, not to our own. Even taxes from our own Air Tahiti airline are paid to France, along with fees paid to cross through our airspace. Under this dependency political status, we cannot control our borders as this function is in the control of the administering power. Thus, we have no authority to issue visas to enhance our tourism industry. 

Fees associated with geostationary satellites that cross our spatial area, the telecommunications system including few fiber optic cables crossing our ocean seabed, and many more revenue generating competencies are controlled by the administering power in a political status which they mis-characterize as 'autonomy' - but which is the essence of contemporary colonialism. 

In short, the extent of competencies controlled by the administering power is dominant when compared to those few under the authority of the local elected government. It is little wonder, then, that the administering power shuns the U.N. process with respect to Maohi Nui/French Polynesia since they would be hard pressed to justify such blatant colonialism. 

But this will not delay the realization of our inalienable right to self-determination. We therefore call on this Committee to take a proactive approach by beginning a case-by-case work programme for Maohi Nui/French Polynesia, and invite the administering power to come to the table. 

The right of the Maohi People to self-determination will not be thwarted by such strategies clearly designed to stall the process. 

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

1/ See "Dates of transmission of information under Article 73 e of the Charter of the United Nations and period covered " (A/70/67)

2/ See United Nations General Assembly Resolution 1803 (XVII) of 14 December 1962.

Chagos Litigation: A Socio-Legal Dialogue Conference


_______________Queen Anne Building, University of Greenwich____________

The Chagos Litigation: A Socio-Legal Dialogue Conference will be taking place on 29th June 2015 at the School of Law, University of Greenwich.@UoGLaw #ChagosDialogue

See Conference Schedule here.

25 June 2015

Truthout: Hawai‘i’s Legal Case Against the United States

Weblog of the acting government of the Hawaiian Kingdom presently operating within the occupied State of the Hawaiian Islands.

“You can’t spend what you ain’t got; you can’t lose what you ain’t never had.” – Muddy Waters

La Kuokoa
“How long do we have to stay in Bosnia, how long do we have to stay in South Korea, how long are we going to stay in Japan, how long are we going to stay in Germany? All of those: 50, 60 year period. No one complains.” – Sen. John McCain
Imagine if you grew up being told that you had been adopted, only to learn that you were, in fact, kidnapped. That might spur you to start searching for the adoption papers. Now imagine that you could find no papers and no one could produce any.
That’s how Dr. David Keanu Sai, a retired Army Captain with a PhD in political science and instructor at Kapiolani Community College in Hawaii, characterizes Hawaii’s international legal status. Since 1993, Sai has been researching the history of the Kingdom of Hawaii and its complicated relationship to the United States.

Over the last 17 years, Sai has lectured and testified publicly in Hawaii, New Zealand, Canada, across the US, at the United Nations and at the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague on Hawaiian land issues on Hawaii’s international status and how Hawaii came to be regarded as a US territory and, eventually, the 50th state.

To explain why he and others insist that Hawaii is not now and never has been lawfully part of the United States, Sai presents an overview of Hawaii’s feudal land system and its history as an independent, sovereign kingdom prior to the overthrow of Queen Liliuokalani on January 16, 1893.

Sai likens his lectures to a scene in the film The Matrix in which the character Morpheus tells Neo, “Remember, all I’m offering is the truth. Nothing more.”


Turks & Caicos Islands Statement to U.N. Decolonisation Committee

Committee adopts recommendations on the territory

Image result for turks and caicos islands

P.O.Box 369 
Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands TKCA 1ZZ
Tel: 1 (649) 231-7471; Fax 1 (649) 941-8516:
Twitter: @making8waves.com

Delivered by Rev. E. Conrad Howell
23rd June 2015

Distinguished and honoured Excellency’s, greetings to you and blessings be upon you from peoples the Turks and Caicos Islands. My being here is a clear indication of our determination to utilize every right and proper means to achieve our goals while working through every challenge that we face. As such, we thank you for hearing us today.

Turks and Caicos is an archipelago of 40 low-lying coral islands in the Atlantic Ocean, southeast of the Bahamas. The island of Providenciales, known as Provo, is home to expansive Grace Bay Beach, with luxury resorts, shops and restaurants.

We believe that in his pursuit of the new world, Columbus in 1492 landed in Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos Islands. We have often herd that only two decades later Ponce de Leon set foot on the Islands in 1512, and then five hundred and thirty years later, in the super powers race to orbit the earth and reach the moon, the later Senator John Glen as an astronaut, was found in his space capsule in February of 1962.

Nevertheless, amidst all this, and all else that we’ve come to learn through the passage of time, it seems easier to speak to the issues from the perspective of taking the credit acclaimed by our place and position of ownership over time, then to demonstrate responsibility for the steady progress and assistance in the aspirations of the TCI people throughout the years.

History shows that both Spain and the UK had been more concerned about the real estate of the Turks and Caicos than the improvement of the lot of its people, and while I say so cautiously, it is demonstrated in their dealing subjectively on these matters.

After Columbus, the Spanish monarch ordered the removal of the people of our lands. Then through and because of the Bermudian for raking salt, the UK annexes the Bahamas and TCI somewhere between 1695 and 1766, only to come with a separation order in 1848, allow for a presidency – which lasted for 25 years with five different presidents and  concluding with a diminishing salt economy unable sustain the responsibilities it was mandated to. So, in 1873, we were passed off to Jamaica to Govern.         

In the era of the United Nations, Jamaica becomes Sovereign in 1962, Turks and Caicos is handed off to Bahamas again. Bahamas becomes Sovereign in 1973, TCI gets a Governor.

Both Dr. Trevor Monroe in his “TCI National Integrity Systems study 2009”, and Dr. Carlyle Corbin in his “Recolonizing the Colony 2014: The case of the Turks and Caicos,” note and spoke briefly to the fact that up 1976, Turks and Caicos Islanders had little experience in governing.

“. . . In the first place, the TCI had relatively limited experience in the operation of institutions of governance. The TCI separate Office of Governor was established in the 1970s, along with the first Constitution for the colony. Other small, Caribbean island states at similar stages of constitutional development had centuries of experience in these governance institutions. . .” Dr. Trevor Monroe – TCI National Integrity Systems study 2009, pg 16.

We celebrate the last forty years of TC Islanders governing with limited experience in the Institutions of Governance, because of what we had able to achieve without the wide experience we would wish we had.

It took determination on the part of the local politicians, even when we were going against the grain to accomplish for and on behalf of the people, by the now “Most Excellent J. A. G. S. McCartney, first Chief Minister and only National Hero (deceased), and others in their various terms of leadership and challenge. 

That determination and the deep desire not to repeat our pass, pushed politicians to budget big on Education Scholarship finding between 2003 – 2007, yet it is spoken of as a waste and in 2010 the Scholarship budget diminished to one percent (1%) of what it previously was.

These are just to mention a few.

I submit to you that the questions are unending based on what we hear and what we see as it relates to Liberty and Progress.

Ø As a UK Overseas Territory, the UK is responsible for Internal and External Security, we are not satisfied as a people that enough is done to curb what some of us call rising crimes, or refund of the repatriation cost.

Ø TCI Bank that was open and heralded in 2006, is now Liquidated, while Banks in the UK built from funds paid to Slave Masters, on the Abolition of Slavery continues and is supported.

Ø Waterloo, the Governor’s Residence and Office, celebrates 200 years since being built – It functions as the place of Administration for and on behalf of HMG, both in demonstration and thought.

Ø His Excellency heralded the eight hundredth year of the Megna Carta just last Monday, while a number of the real benefits were just removed as it relates to the TCI people.

Ø Obviously what we’ve seen Government Ministers trying to deliver amidst the bureaucracy intended to allow transparency, it demonstrates parallel governance.
Ø Austerity has given way to some savings yes, the economy has rebounded well. The necessary payments on the debt will be met before the bond matures and the UK will be loosed from its guarantor responsibility on the $260M loan guarantee. But, the old adage is proven true “While the grass grows, the horse staves.”

Ø Our systems of Governance need to change for the people and country, nevertheless, the parallel governance referred to creates real opportunity for local political destabilization, and makes to local leaders on job more difficult than it has to be.

Buoyant economies, with great opportunities, minus political guarantees or right of determination, makes for marginalization and destabilization. Nevertheless, we continue to diversify and strength as best we can.
The status quo has to change and we who believe we understand what is happening in the colonies or colony, counts on the Decolonization group to innovatively assist by:

1.    Allowing a special resolution to look into what some of us call abuses  and inactivity by the Administering Power,
2.    Observe for yourselves, through a visiting delegation, the current state of political activity as it relates to your mission in the TCI,
3.    Recommend that the other options such as Free Association or other option open to us.

We are a peaceful people, and will exercise whatever “means” are available and can be utilize to obtain our goals as a people.

It is noted that the UK has the ability to impose Orders in Council on its Caribbean Territories, if the Territories are reforming as suggested. It is of note that those words say, “CARIBBEAN TERRITORIES.”

Is it to imply that we are less equal?
We are deviant and need to come into conformity?
Or that we in particular have resisted good will?

What I do know, is that we in the Turks and Caicos, wish to make our own decisions, determine our own destiny, and enjoy prosperity and justice for all just like any other group of people on the face of the earth.

We pay our way, no matter the cost,
We believe in the right of others according to law,

We believe in what the UN Charter and (Decolonisation) Declaration 1514.

So we believe and accept the golden rule – Do to others as you would have them do to you.

There is no better time than now. There is danger in Delay.

Just as the Worker counts on his union, just as the voter looks to him MP, those colonies wishing to be decolonized, look to the decolonization committee.

 Published on Jamaica Gleaner (http://jamaica-gleaner.com)
 Munroe still awaiting Turks and Caicos' response on Sandals matter
Published: Thursday | February 28, 2013

More than a month after Professor Trevor Munroe wrote to the governor of the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) regarding the recovery of US$12 million from Sandals Resorts International, the questions raised by the noted academic are still unanswered.

Munroe, who wrote to the TCI governor in his capacity as executive director of National Integrity Action (NIA), told The Gleaner on Monday that the governor's office confirmed receipt of his missive, but nothing else has been received addressing the substantive issues he outlined in the letter dated January 24, 2013.

"Following the acknowledgement of receipt of my letter, we have received no further correspondence from the TCI governor's office," Munroe noted.

The NIA describes itself as a Jamaica-based non-governmental organisation "whose objective is to build integrity and combat corruption". Munroe had wrote to Governor Ric Todd in response to a news release issued by the governor's spokesman dated January 23, 2012, titled 'SIPT recover a further twelve million'.


However, Neil Smith, the TCI governor's spokesman, told our news team yesterday that it is unlikely that the concerns raised by the professor would not be addressed.

"I am sure he will," said Smith when asked if Governor Todd would respond to Professor Munroe's letter. "It is most unlikely that the office won't respond," Smith added.

In the missive to the TCI governor, Munroe noted that "one aspect of public concern and attention relates to a fundamental principle of the rule of law and of democratic governance, namely, that there should be one law for the rich and for the poor, one law for the connected persons and for the man in the street".


He added: "In the matter between Sandals and the Turks and Caicos Islands government, NIA and every well-thinking citizen must acknowledge that each individual and entity must be considered innocent until proven guilty before a court of law; equally, that no illegitimate consideration should preclude any individual or entity, however well connected and however much a contribution they have made, from having their day in court to establish innocence or to be found guilty."

In closing, the professor said he was seeking assurance from the governor that the fundamental principles long upheld in the British justice system were in no way being undermined by the agreement reached by the TCI's Special Investigation Prosecution Team (SIPT) and Sandals Resorts International, whereby the former recovered US$12 million from the latter "without any admission of liability by the company, its directors and/or officers". 


United Nations Special Committee on Decolonisation

Resolution on the Turks and Caicos Islands

adopted on 23rd June 2015

Taking note of the working paper prepared by the Secretariat on the Turks and Caicos Islands[1] and other relevant information,

Taking note also of the statement made by the representative of the Turks and Caicos Islands at the Caribbean regional seminar held in Managua from 19 to 21 May 2015,

Recalling also the dispatch of the United Nations special mission to the Turks and Caicos Islands in 2006 at the request of the territorial Government and with the concurrence of the administering Power,

Noting the decision of the administering Power to suspend parts of the 2006 Constitution, the subsequent presentation of a draft constitution for public consultation in 2011 and the introduction of a new constitution for the Territory, as well as the election of a new territorial Government in 2012,

Aware that the 2014 report of the Constitutional Review Committee, which was submitted to and considered by the House of Assembly, is under consideration by the administering Power, 

Recalling that, in March 2014, the Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community received an update on the situation in the Turks and Caicos Islands, which they will continue to monitor, and that they expressed their support for the full restoration of democracy in the Territory on terms driven by its people,

Acknowledging the impact that the global economic slowdown and other relevant developments have had on tourism and related real estate development, which are the mainstays of the economy of the Territory, 

1. Reiterates its support for the full restoration of democracy in the Territory and the work of the Constitutional Review Committee in that regard, and notes the efforts of the administering Power to restore good governance, including through the introduction in 2011 of a new constitution and the holding of elections in November 2012, and sound financial management in the Territory;

2. Notes the positions and repeated calls of the Caribbean Community and the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries in support of a democratically elected territorial Government and of the full restoration of democracy in the Territory as decided by its people;

3. Also notes the continuing debate on constitutional reform within the Territory, and stresses the importance of participation by all groups and interested parties in the consultation process;

4. Stresses the importance of having in place in the Territory a constitution that reflects the aspirations and wishes of its people, based on the mechanisms for popular consultation;

5. Requests the administering Power to assist the Territory by facilitating its work concerning public outreach efforts, consistent with Article 73 b of the Charter, and in that regard calls upon the relevant United Nations organizations to provide assistance to the Territory, if requested;

6. Welcomes the active participation of the Territory in the work of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean;

7. Also welcomes the continuing efforts made by the territorial Government addressing the need for attention to be paid to the enhancement of socioeconomic development across the Territory;

24 June 2015

"The Chagos Islanders and International Law"- Book by Stephen Allen

Stephen Allen is a Senior Lecturer in Law at Queen Mary, University of London.

In 1965, the UK excised the Chagos Islands from the colony of Mauritius to create the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT) in connection with the founding of a US military facility on the island of Diego Garcia. Consequently, the inhabitants of the Chagos Islands were secretly exiled to Mauritius, where they became chronically impoverished. 

This book considers the resonance of international law for the Chagos Islanders. It advances the argument that BIOT constitutes a 'Non-Self-Governing Territory' pursuant to the provisions of Chapter XI of the UN Charter and for the wider purposes of international law. 

In addition, the book explores the extent to which the right of self-determination, indigenous land rights and a range of obligations contained in applicable human rights treaties could support the Chagossian right to return to BIOT. 

However, the rights of the Chagos Islanders are premised on the assumption that the UK possesses a valid sovereignty claim over BIOT. The evidence suggests that this claim is questionable and it is disputed by Mauritius. Consequently, the Mauritian claim threatens to compromise the entitlements of the Chagos Islanders in respect of BIOT as a matter of international law. 

This book illustrates the ongoing problems arising from international law's endorsement of the territorial integrity of colonial units for the purpose of decolonisation at the expense of the countervailing claims of colonial self-determination by non-European peoples that inhabited the same colonial unit. The book uses the competing claims to the Chagos Islands to demonstrate the need for a more nuanced approach to the resolution of sovereignty disputes resulting from the legacy of European colonialism.

Discussions on Puerto Rico at the U.N. at United Nations link Island's economic crisis with limitations of dependent political status

Special Committee on Decolonization

3rd and 4th Meetings

Adopts 2015 Decision on Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico remained locked in a cycle of poverty, brain drain and sluggish economic development caused by the “imperialist” policies of the United States, the Special Committee of 24 was told today as it heard from more than 30 petitioners on the matter and approved a resolution urging the United States to allow Puerto Ricans to exercise their inalienable right to self-determination.
Welcoming advocates from both Puerto Rico and its Diaspora community, the Special Committee — known formally as the Special Committee on the Situation with regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples — heard that more than half of the island’s population lived in poverty, owing in large part to crippling trade policies imposed by the United States, the “colonial Power”.
Despite having been removed from the United Nations list of Non-Self-Governing Territories in 1953, Puerto Rico remained very much a colony of the “Yankee empire”, petitioners stressed, calling for the island’s independence from the United States.
In that vein, the representative of the Frente Autonomista urged the United Nations General Assembly to take action to ensure that the United States met its international obligations with regard to colonialism and took responsibility to decontaminate the Puerto Rican territory.  Calling on that country to commit itself to a decolonization process, he demanded that all States help Puerto Rico with its economy and “stand on the right side of history”.
“This is an imperial situation,” asserted the representative of the American Association of Jurists, noting that the Territory was unable to establish trade relations with other countries, to the detriment of its economy.  The “commonwealth” status hid the real situation of Puerto Ricans, which should be energetically condemned, he said.
The representative of the Movimiento Puertorriqueño Anticabotaje said that certain legal and trade restrictions — which had been put in place to stimulate American industry in Puerto Rico — constituted a “wall” that blocked economic development on the island.  “We need access to markets which will make the flow of raw materials to the world at competitive prices possible,” she said.
The island’s economy had deteriorated in recent years, said a representative of Frente Socialista de Puerto Rico, noting that half the population lived at the poverty level.  Imported foods were required, which led to poor diets and high rates of non-communicable diseases.  Meanwhile, the United States Government maintained the designation of “domestic terrorism” for Puerto Rican activists, such as Oscar Lopez Rivera, who had been held for more than three decades in American prisons.
Mr. Lopez Rivera — who had been convicted of seditious conspiracy in the United States — was a central figure in today’s discussion, with many speakers calling for his immediate pardon and release.  “He is a living legend in Puerto Rico,” said the representative of the National Lawyers Guild International Committee, adding that “the clamour for his release is a unifying factor, a call for justice and human rights across party lines, national boundaries, and religious and political beliefs”.
Among today’s petitioners were those who sought, not independence, but equality under United States law as the nation’s fifty-first state.  “We have a half-way democracy,” said the representative of the group Igualdad, noting that, in a 2012 referendum, more than half of Puerto Rico’s voting population had rejected the island’s current status.  In the United States, Puerto Rico was not represented at the federal level except for a resident commissioner who had no voice, she added.
Others stressed that the most basic right of citizenship — the right to vote for President — was still denied to more than 3.5 million Puerto Ricans.  The representative of the Coalition for the Presidential Vote in Puerto Rico said that thousands of Puerto Rican soldiers had sacrificed their lives in every major war waged by the United States in defence of “freedom” and “democracy”, and yet they were denied the right to vote for those that governed them.  “This harsh reality contradicts the United States’ public international discourse when it self-proclaims itself as the beacon of freedom and democracy worldwide,” he said.
Also participating today were representatives of Iran (on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement), Cuba, Ecuador (on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States), Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua and Syria.

23 June 2015

Okinawa parties submit proposal to block landfill off Henoko

The Japan Times

NAHA, OKINAWA PREF. – Ruling parties in the Okinawa Prefectural Assembly have submitted a draft ordinance that is apparently aimed at preventing landfill work off the Henoko coastal district in the city of Nago in a bid to block the transfer of the U.S. Futenma base to the area.

The ordinance, to be put to a vote next month, will likely be approved with majority support, including from the Social Democratic Party and the Japanese Communist Party. It is expected to take effect Nov. 1.

The draft calls for restricting the transportation of sand used for reclamation into Okinawa from outside the prefecture.

The stated aim is to prevent alien species from getting into Okinawa of alien species via the sand, according to the parties.

The ordinance would require companies to submit sand transportation plans in advance and take measures to ensure that no invasive species is included. The governor of Okinawa would be authorized to order the cancellation of such plans if necessary.

“We need to pass Okinawa’s beautiful nature to future generations at a time when a plenty of sand for reclamation is planned to be carried into the prefecture,” Satoru Nakasone, an assembly member from the SDP, told Tuesday’s meeting of the assembly.

At a news conference in Tokyo on Tuesday, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said he will carefully watch the course of debate on the ordinance.

“I expect the Okinawa assembly will shed light on why the ordinance only targets sand used for reclamation,” he said.

U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, situated in a densely populated area in the city of Ginowan, is slated to be relocated to the Henoko area under agreements between the Japanese and U.S. governments. Many people and political leaders in Okinawa are opposed to keeping the base within the prefecture.

See also: 

US Military Planned to Use Whole of Okinawa as Base in WWII

A court here ordered the central government to pay 754 million yen ($6.1 million) to residents for their suffering caused by noise pollution from the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Ginowan, Okinawa Prefecture.