07 October 2015

British Colonialism in Turks & Caicos Islands to be addressed at U.N.

Premier of the Turks and Caicos Islands Premier Hon. Dr. Rufus Ewing

Todeline Defralien,

SUNtv News Reporter

The Turks and Caicos Islands will take to the world stage to highlight the United Kingdom's refusal to make important amendments to the country's Constitution, said Premier Hon. Dr. Rufus Ewing.

Addressing a public press conference on Monday September 7th, 2015 at the Gustavus Lightbourne Complex, Downtown, Providenciales, Premier Ewing said that for the United Kingdom Government to return the Turks and Caicos Islands to self-rule and "still not trust Government to make decisions for themselves or decisions on the behalf of the people because of mistrust is not democracy”.

He added “So for the United Kingdom Government to, at this juncture in our development, deny and have no interest whatsoever and outright and blankly state categorically ‘No I am not interested in changing anything in that Constitution’ is indeed a slap in the face of democracy and a slap in the face of all of us Turks and Caicos Islanders who took time out of their busy schedule at work to come out to each and every one of those town hall meetings and to gave their contributions and let their voice be heard."

The Premier said, “This is not a PDM issue, this is not a PDA issue or PPP issue or whichever other party comes up after this. This is an issue of the Turks and Caicos Islands because I am here today, you here tomorrow and each and every one of us will feel it and our children will feel it when the time comes. So it is important that we stand together on this issue of constitutional advancement and constitutional reform. It is important that we do so. In the meantime, I have discussed with the Leader of the Opposition and we have agreed that we will sit and plot a way forward, because there are many ways to attack and challenge the status quo; but we have to begin with engagement and full engagement of the United Kingdom Government head on. And so we decided that we will establish a bi-partisan team and we will find ourselves in the first instance into the United Kingdom and sit with the members of Parliament and the FCO on this very issue of constitutional reform and show them why it is necessary for us to get what we the people ask for and demand."

According to the Premier: “We also will make sure that such efforts are taken not only to the United Kingdom Government but to the international arena, because the world have to understand that the United Nations convention is being violated by the United Kingdom Government. Because if I can’t ask for a single amendment to a constitution you categorically outright deny us those amendments when the people in the House of Assembly voted for them then you are indeed in violation of the UN convention.”

Ewing said it took time for members of the House of Assembly to debate those issues and come up with the unanimous decision on the changes.

He said the refusal by the UK to make Constitutional changes is "a slap in the face to all of our elected members of the House and a slap in the face of democracy in the Turks and Caicos Islands”.

The Premier added: “We must realize that power is the strangest thing and if you want to be a Government and if you are a Government elected, you must have the ability to do something. You must have the ability to make decisions for the people and we all understand what the trepidation may be, but that is not for you. You have to give us the power, you the people gave us the power when you elected each and every one of us into office and so we now need to take the power of you the people with us and we need you the people to rally behind us to demand the changes that you went to every Town Hall meeting for and asked for to be made in our Constitution”.

Turks and Caicos 
Weekly News

TCI to petition United Nations on UK’s refusal 
of constitutional changes

THE TURKS and Caicos Islands Government has signalled its intention to head to the United Nations Committee to air their concerns about the United Kingdom’s refusal to accept proposed constitutional changes.

Speaking at a town hall meeting on Monday, September 7, Premier Rufus Ewing called on members of the public and the Opposition to join the Government in its petition to the international body.

He told the gathering that the issue has to be taken to the international arena, as the world needs to understand that the United Nations Convention is being violated by the United Kingdom government.

"We have another opportunity to state our case to the United Nations Committee because we have had invitations and I will extend that invitation to the Opposition and members of the public who would like to petition the UN.

"We were invited to submit our petition about our concerns such as the refusal to give constitutional advancement and we as a Government will take up that opportunity and I am inviting the Opposition members and any other member who would like to attend that meeting to rally and petition the UN because that is the only way we are going to get true representation in this country,” Ewing urged.

He added that the TCI cannot look to the British for representation, as they are conflicted.

"We have to represent ourselves with the help of others other than the UK government.”

The Premier stated that there needs to be a constitution so that the Government can do what the people elected them to do and one which will ensure that they can govern properly.

He said it does not matter which party is in power, the same problems will exist.

"For the United Kingdom to have an election, let a Government come into power and still does not trust that Government to make decisions for themselves and on behalf of the people, is not democracy.

"So for the UK government to deny and have no interest whatsoever – outrightly, blanketly and categorically state that no I am not interested in changing anything in that constitution is indeed a slap in the face of democracy and all Turks and Caicos Islanders.”

He noted that everyone knows what the UK’s trepidation is, but that the country needs to rally together to demand the changes they made an effort and a sacrifice to put together.

"It is important that we stand together on the issue of constitutional advancement and constitutional reform, it is important that we do so.”

He added that he and the Leader of the Opposition have agreed to sit and plot a way forward, as well as put together a bipartisan team to go the UK to sit with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Members of Parliament to show them why it is necessary for the TCI to get what the people asked for.

"Every time I go to the Governor his usual question is - this is what they say, this is the constitution that you have if you don’t like it you can call a referendum.

"So I am telling you that we have to push and push at this door until that time comes and if you think that you have had enough and we think we have had enough then that is an option that we have to strongly consider and make a decision as Turks and Caicos Islanders,” the Premier advised.

He noted that it is not his decision alone, but the decision of all Turks and Caicos Islanders.

Sint Maarten Governor "There is no basis not to form a new government"

Governor Holiday concludes consultations

The Daily Herald

Harbour View – On October 5, 2015, His Excellency the Governor of Sint Maarten, drs. E.B. Holiday, concluded consultations regarding recent political developments.

As was communicated earlier, the Governor received a letter on September 30th, 2015, from three members of Parliament, Mr. F. Richardson, Mr. S. Matser and Mr. M. Lake, in which they informed the Governor that they withdrew their support from the present coalition government. Subsequently the Governor was informed that on September 30th, 2015, just after noon Parliament of Sint Maarten passed a motion of no-confidence against the current cabinet of ministers. According to article 33, second paragraph, of the Constitution of Sint Maarten, if a minister no longer has the confidence of the Parliament, he shall make his position available. It is noted that thus far the ministers have not made their positions available to the Governor.

The Governor also received a separate letter signed by the 4 members of the NA-fraction, the DP-fraction, the USP-fraction and members of Parliament S. Matser and M. Lake in which they informed him of their willingness to form the next government of Sint Maarten. The letter included an attached Governing Accord signed by the abovementioned 8 members of Parliament.

Moreover, following the motion of no-confidence the Council of Ministers invoked article 59 of the Constitution of Sint Maarten and submitted a national decree to call for new elections and dissolve Parliament to the Governor.

Considering these political developments and the importance of an orderly political and constitutional process for our country the Governor held consultations with the Prime-Minister, the leaders of all political parties represented in Parliament, the independent members of Parliament, the Chairman of Parliament and the Vice Chairperson of the Council of Advice between September 30th and October 5th, 2015.

Having reviewed the correspondence that he received and following completion of the consultations regarding the current political developments the Governor has informed parties that there is no basis not to form a new government based on the new majority in Parliament. Governor Holiday is herewith appealing to all stakeholders to do all that is necessary to maintain and protect the integrity of our constitutional democracy and to foster actions in keeping with our constitution based on the rule of law.

Sea Rise Forcing Bikini Resettlement (Marshall Islands)

Image result for bikini island

70 years after nuclear testing exile

By Giff Johnson 
RNZI Marshalls Correspondent
Radio New Zealand International

Nearly 70 years after they were uprooted to make way for United States nuclear weapons testing, Bikini Islanders are now reeling from rising seas and have asked Washington to aid a new resettlement.

For decades, Bikini islanders have struggled to survive on Kili, an inhospitable and isolated island with no lagoon for fishing or calm anchorage for boats. Repeated ocean water flooding over the past four years and a runway that turns to mud when it rains pushed the Bikini Council on Thursday to request US government assistance to relocate a population that has lived in exile since the start of nuclear testing at Bikini in 1946.

The United States tested 24 nuclear weapons at Bikini, including its largest hydrogen bomb, Bravo, at 15 megatons in 1954. Early in the testing, radioactive contamination of all the target ships created the first case of immediate, concentrated radioactive fallout from a nuclear explosion.

Bikinians have suffered from health impacts of the testing for decades and a struggle continues to get adequate compensation from the US and full disclosure about its testing programme. The Bikini people now also hope for American help to overcome the upheaval they increasingly face from the change in sea levels.

The Bikini Council has approved two resolutions, requesting US Interior Department assistance to gain Congressional amendments to allow the Resettlement Trust Fund for the People of Bikini, established in 1982 by US public law, to be used for relocation outside of the Marshall Islands.

"In the future, we may have no option but to relocate," said Bikini Mayor Nishma Jamore, explaining why the Council adopted the resolutions following public hearings in Majuro and Ejit, and a council meeting on Kili.

"We are preparing for the future. Climate change is real. We are feeling and experiencing it. In the future we will have no choice [but to relocate]."

Resolution 46 noted that since their resettlement to Kili in 1948, the change from an atoll environment to a single island with no lagoon "continues to take a severe psychological toll on the people."

But added to this long-term problem for life on Kili is the impact of sea level rise. The resolution said that Kili and Ejit Islands have been covered by high waves at least five times in the last four years, resulting in contamination of all wells on both islands.

The mayor said that "because of ongoing deterioration of conditions on Kili and Ejit Islands, many of the people of Bikini living on these islands want to move out of the Marshall Islands, primarily to the United States."

US to be held to its promise

As it stands, the resettlement fund specifically restricts resettlement spending to the Marshall Islands. However Mr Jamore said US officials were supportive of seeking amendments to the existing US law governing trust fund use when Bikini representatives visited Washington DC earlier this year.

"The Americans said 'we will always take care of you as the children of America'  (wow...) and we believe that if promises are made, they will be kept," said Councilwoman Lani Kramer. "After 70 years there has to be some action to get the people off this small island."

Resolution 54 says that it has become clear that "conditions on Kili Island are similar to those facing the people of Bikini on Rogerik in 1946, of being placed on an island that cannot sustain the population."

The US Navy evacuated Bikini islanders from Rongerik in 1948, two years after their initial resettlement for the first nuclear tests, because the islanders were starving. They were then moved to Kili Island where about 800 people currently live.

"Kili Island can no longer sustain a population of more than a few hundred people," the resolution said.

The Bikinians say they are asking for US government help because they consider that the Resettlement Trust Fund was never designed to finance a relocation of the entire population from Kili Island - a move Mayor Jamore says is essential. The Bikinians said the US government remained morally responsible for the welfare of the Bikinians "due to its failure to ever conduct a radiological clean-up of Bikini Atoll in order to repair the damage it caused from the nuclear testing."

"I believe that if you borrow something from someone you should return it in the same or better condition," said Kramer. "They [the Americans] really need to clean up Bikini. I believe even if we don't go back they should clean it up no matter what."