FRENCH POLYNESIA'S HITI TAU DISAPPOINTED BY

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FORUM COMMUNIQUÉ

By Mele Laumanu Petelo

HONOLULU, Hawaii (October 1, 1997 - PIDP/CPIS)---The national coordinator of French Polynesia's Hiti Tau (Time To Act), a network of over 60 non-governmental organizations, says he is disappointed with the South Pacific Forum's final communiqué from Rarotonga because it does not call for French Polynesia's reinstatement on the United Nations list of non self- governing territories.

Gabriel Tetiarahi believes the Cook Islands, Fiji, Papua New Guinea and other South Pacific countries should have come to the support of the indigenous people of French Polynesia during last month's Forum summit. Other Pacific nations should not consider themselves free, he suggests, because neighboring Tahiti and its islands still remain under colonial rule.

"Although we have lost this battle," Tetiarahi says, "we will continue the war for Te Ao Maohi's independence."

During meetings of Pacific-wide NGO representatives in the Cook Islands capital last week, Tetiarahi also pointed out that there still is much unfinished business regarding the now-ended French nuclear testing involving Moruroa, Fangataufa, and Hao islands.

He said the French government will issue the official results of a health study of nuclear workers later this month but, since he was not given access to the research archives, the accuracy of the French report will remain suspicious.

Tetiarahi said he has clear evidence, however, of the devastating effects of the nuclear testing on site workers, some of whom have signed contracts with the French military not to speak about their experiences.

"The nuclear testing is finished," said the NGO leader, "but nuclear activity is still there, not only in the atolls but now in the workers' bodies."

The main purpose of Tetiarahi's NGO umbrella organization is to promote indigenous peoples' rights and to develop alternative economic programs designed to raise their standard of living in harmony with the traditional Polynesian lifestyle.

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