To the Honourable Members States of the South Pacific Forum,
We representatives of the Pacific Nations of Australia, Aotearoa, Bougainville, East Timor, Papua New Guinea, Te Ao Maohi (French Polynesia) and West Papua, gathered in Sydney, April 1998, reaffirm, on behalf of all Indigenous peoples of our vast region, that the Pacific lands and waters are our ancestral home.
We reassert our inalienable right to our sovereignty and reject the last remaining tentacles of colonisation which maintain their grip upon our region. As we enter the 21st Century we demand an end to colonisation in all its forms and declare our right to live in peace and prosperity with the lands and waters which gave us birth. We do this in honour and respect of our ancestors and of the unborn yet to come.
We note with concern that the 1997 South Pacific Forum Communique did not address the following:
1) The right to self-determination and independence for colonised peoples of the Pacific;
2) The proposed decommissioning of the United Nations’ Decolonisation Committee;
3) The exploitation of resources and continued environmental destruction;
4) The continued militarisation and nuclearisation of the Pacific region.
We therefore call on all South Pacific Forum Member States to include the following issues on the agenda at the 1998 South Pacific Forum to be held in the Federated States of Micronesia:
We call for the extension of the mandate of the United Nations’ Decolonisation Committee beyond 2000; the reinscription of all colonised peoples with the Committee’s List of Non-Self-Governing Territories; and in particular for the inclusion of Te Ao Maohi (French Polynesia); West Papua, and Ka Pae’aina (Hawai’i) in that List.
We reaffirm our support for the right to all Indigenous peoples, including those of Aboriginal Australia and Aotearoa (New Zealand), to self-determination and independence but recognise that this year (1998) is a crucial year for the French colony of Te Ao Maohi (French Polynesia), following recent events in Kanaky (New Caledonia), and for the Indonesian colonies of West Papua and East Timor, following the overthrow of the Soeharto regime in Indonesia.
We remind the Honourable Members of the South Pacific Forum of the United Nations General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV), Declaration on the granting to independence to colonial countries and peoples, 14 December 1960, which states: "The subjection of peoples to alien subjugation, domination and exploitation constitutes a denial of fundamental human rights, is contrary to the Charter of the United Nations, and is an impediment to the promotion of world peace and co-operation. All peoples have the right to self-determination; by virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development."
This sentiment is repeated in numerous resolutions of the UN General Assembly, including the International Covenants on Human Rights. It is reflected in the UN International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism, which promises to end colonialism by the year 2000.
We remind Members that for the issue of the decolonisation of Te Ao Maohi (French Polynesia), West Papua and Ka Pae’aina (Hawai’i) to be placed on the UN Agenda they must first be placed on the Agenda of the South Pacific Forum. We call upon all nations of the Pacific, but particularly those which were once themselves colonised, to take the lead in this initiative.
We call for South Pacific Forum Member-States to support the Bougainville Peace Plan and to ensure that the terms of any and all agreements are adhered to.
NUCLEAR ACTIVITIES AND MILITARISATION:
We call on South Pacific Member-States to take initiatives towards: the abolition of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons; an end to transshipment, storage and dumping of nuclear and toxic chemical waste in and through the Pacific; adequate compensation for all communities and peoples affected by nuclear testing especially in Te Ao Maohi (French Polynesia), Marshall Islands and Kiribati; and the cleanup and ongoing monitoring of sites left contaminated by nuclear testing.
RESOURCES EXPLOITATION AND ENVIRONMENTAL DESTRUCTION:
We note with grave concern the increasing environmental destruction caused by the exploitation of resources of indigenous lands and waters. We call for the rights of Indigenous peoples to determine priorities and strategies for the development and use of their lands. We also call for compensation for Indigenous peoples for the loss and damage of their lands and waters, and of their livelihoods, caused by resource exploitation. We remain concerned with the threat posed to our nations by climate change brought about by the activities of the more industrialised nations.
MULTI-LATERAL AGREEMENT ON INVESTMENT (MAI):
Concerned by the impact of globalisation, we call on South Pacific Member-States to completely reject the MAI. We are concerned that the present MAI treaty will give transnational companies unrestricted access to exploit our lands and waters. We assert our right to control of our lands, our waters and our labours. We call for adequate and appropriate equitable development which can lead our peoples out of the social and economic disadvantages propagated by colonisation in all its forms.
In conclusion, we proclaim our determination to actively pursue an independent and nuclear free Pacific and to actively challenge issues affecting: our sovereignty, decolonisation and indigenous rights; our environment and resources; nuclearisation and militarisation; and, our economic, social and cultural development.
Signed: Representatives of Aotearoa, Australia, Bougainville, East Timor, Papua New Guinea, Te Ao Maohi and West Papua, April 1998. .............
This open letter to the Member States of the South Pacific Forum is for general distribution. It was created as a campaign tool leading up to the South Pacific Forum August 1998. We encourage all supporters of the Nuclear Free and Independent Pacific movement to lobby their own and other governments which are members of the SPF with these demands.
Also: could you please distribute this petition as widely as possible to networks around the world and return to: Zohl de Ishtar -
INDEPENDENCE AND SOVEREIGNTY FOR TE AO MAOHI (French Polynesia)
"We seek our dignity as a people to live freely in our own land."
We, the undersigned, give our support to the Maohi people of Te Ao Maohi (French Polynesia). We call on our governments to support the Maohi people’s right to self-determination and independence, to discuss this issue at the South Pacific Forum, and call for the re-inscription of French Polynesia on the list of non-self governing territories, with the United Nations Decolonisation Committee.
Name Address Signature
Zohl de Ishtar Women for a Nuclear Free and Independent Pacific, Australia. International Peace Bureau, Oceania Representative (Female) for the representatives of the following countries:
Australia: Jenny Munro, Kathy Malera-Bandjalan, Zohl de Ishtar Aotearoa: Hone Harawira Bougainville: Moses Havini, Marilyn Havini, Vikki John East Timor: Ceu Brites PNG: Powes Parkop Te Ao Maohi: Tamara Bopp Du Pont, Marie Bopp, Auxilia Boobsie-Haereraaroa, Ahuura Paia. West Papua: Rex Rumakiek, John Ondawame, Dolly, Nell, Anne Noonan, Joe Collins, Kel Dummett, Linda Gale.