Pacific territories seek UN help for decolonisation call

There have been calls for the United Nations to help Guam in its decolonisation process and for the UN to look at the aftermath of the French nuclear weapons tests in the South Pacific.The issues were raised during a meeting in New York of the UN’s Special Political and Decolonisation Committee.Walter Zweifel listened in.A representative of Guam’s Chamorro in Diaspora group, Tiara Naputi, has pointed at the delays in advancing Guam’s cause. “TIARA NAPUTI: Until the UN makes serious strides towards implementation our people will continue to ask what is the relevance of the United Nations to our decolonisation process.”Ms Naputi says the military build-up by the US, with transfers of marines, is the product of negotiations done in secrecy. She says at the same time, the people of Guam are not told about the options of a future status as Washington is not doing its job. “TIARA NAPUTI: It’s unsustainable and imprudent to rely upon the United States for funding given the ongoing sequestration therefore the United Nations has an important role to play in helping our island in these endeavours. The development of public education programmes for the territories must be done collectively through the administering powers, the territories, and the United Nations.”A French Polynesian delegate and former president, Oscar Temaru, told the meeting that isolation from the international decolonisation process has allowed France to carry out nuclear weapons tests for 30 years. He says he would like the UN to look at the aftermath of the tests. His call comes amid French rejection of all most all compensation claims by those suffering poor health. “OSCAR TEMARU: We praise the excellent report of the Human Rights Council special rapporteur in 2012 on the effects of nuclear testing in the Marshall Islands. A similar mission to French Polynesia would be highly useful. Marshall Islands, Kazakhstan and all peoples still dealing with the after-effects of atomic radiation are close to our hearts.”Another delegate from French Polynesia, Richard Tuheiava, who is also a French senator, has spoken out against an independence referendum to be held soon. “RICHARD TUHEIAVA: A recent proposal was made last July for the administering power to conduct an immediate referendum in our territory on only one option - independence, yes or no, without regard for proper voter eligibility criteria or for adequate social and economical reforms to reshape our developmental model. The true intention of such proposal is to retain the current colonial arrangements by default and to try to banish legitimate aspirations of independence in our territory hence clearly disregarding UN mechanism and international law.”The government in French Polynesia has responded to the speeches in New York, saying Mr Temaru is simply afraid of the voters’ verdict. It says the country is governed freely and autonomously within the French republic, adding that any referendum not organised by France would be boycotted.

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