NUCLEAR FREE AND INDEPENDENT PACIFIC

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News Release September 21, 1999 Arue, Tahiti

BOUGAINVILLE SHOULD DECIDE POLITICAL FUTURE

The Nuclear Free and Independent Pacific (NFIP) Movement was today urged to write to the Papua New Guinea government and the President of the Bougainville Peoples Congress (BPC), to ask them to immediately open dialogue on the issue of self-determination and allow Bougainvilleans to decide their political future through a referendum similar to that exercised by the people of East Timor.

Sister Ruby Mirinka, Coordinator of the Bougainville community based Integrated Humanitarian Programme and a member of the Bougainville delegation to the 8th NFIP conference in Arue, Tahiti, says that two years of waiting after peace initiatives has been too long and further delays will have a dangerous effect on the life of the people.

"The failure and delay in addressing the issue of self-determination is causing continued suffering and death on Bougainville and causing further political divisions among the leaders, hence the delay in the restoration, rehabilitation and the rebuilding of the whole of Bougainville.

"During a recent Health Training Workshop I conducted, 32 health workers reported that they do not have medicine in their clinics. Bougainville has been crippled by 10 years of war. The governments delay in negotiating a political settlement of the crisis will cause more deaths from lack of medicine on top of the 20,000 deaths during the armed conflict." Sister Mirinka said.

Sister Mirinka said that some NGO groups have attempted to provide basic medicine but it was not adequate to cover the population of 160,000 people in Bougainville.

She said the issue of the right to self-determination was the reason for the 10 years of war in Bougainville and a regional based mechanism or body should be set up to monitor the political struggle of the people of Bougainville.

"Additionally, recommendations should be made from this conference to include Bougainville on the United Nations list of countries to be decolorized.

"The peoples struggle to be given their right to decide their political future is far from over. I stand today in this conference as a mother, and a representative of Bougainvillean grassroots to speak for their justice and truth, so that the NFIP conference can stand up with us in our struggle for our right to decide our political future."

CALL TO RECOGNIZE MAORI SOVEREIGNTY

News Release

September 21, 1999

Arue, Tahiti

Desalinization of the mind continues to be the greatest struggle of the Maori Movement, Hilda- Halkyard Harawira, a member of the Aotearoa (New Zealand) delegation today told the 8th NFIP conference in Arue, Tahiti.

"Desalinization begins when we no longer believe that Maori are born failures, when we accept that we deserve justice…when we accept that we are the guardians of our treaty, our land rights, culture, language, education, economy and our children’s future," Ms. Harawira said in a panel presentation on the sub-theme, "The Struggle for Independence and Self-Determination in the Pacific in the New Millennium."

"Our Maori self-determination leaders have been portrayed as ‘disrupting the national peace.’ Good leaders are those who agree with the status quo. Although we have 14 Maori parliamentarians co-opted by various political parties, our liberation as a people cannot be won in parliament."

She said that although a few concessions have been made, they did not want to replicate deal-making politicians. "Does parliament have to be a dog eat dog business?"

Ms Harawira stated that only eight percent of Maori are fluent in the Maori language, which is contributing to the loss of their identity. They were now working to establish a Whare Wananga, a Maori University where all subjects will be taught in Te Reo Maori.

"It is unfair burden to expect our children to shoulder the responsibility of our language and culture. Maori language will survive only if there are support systems in place. Maori language needs to be heard in everyday happenings, on radio, on television, in meetings, at school, on buses.

It is important that the curriculum liberate Maori children and not enslave them, she said.

"We do not want to copy mainstream schools. We teach academic subjects but also Maori values and practices. We are preparing our children to govern and manage our tribes and our communities."

Ms. Harawira called on the conference to recognize that the Maori never ceded sovereignty in the Maori version of Treaty of Waitangi and they do not endorse the Government’s plan to sell their stolen sovereignty to foreign multinationals.

She stated that government-sponsored speakers are not the spokespeople of the Maori Movement since they spoke for government policies, not Maori aspirations.

The conference participants from 25 countries of the Pacific region were urged to recognize and support the Maori people as the tangata whenua, the indigenous people of Aotearoa.

"One day you may see a Maori Nation member included in the South Pacific Forum. One day we may form a political party that is not afraid of the word ‘independence.’ One day we may run through the colonial checklist routine so that Aotearoa is included on the United Nations Desalinization list. Some day soon Pacific leaders will have flagpoles for the Maori and Aboriginal flags…"

Ms. Harawira paid tribute to Nelson Mandela, Sitiveni Rabuka, Jose Ramos Horta, Xanana Gusmao, Yann Uregei "and all the soldiers and workers who have shown great indigenous leadership qualities in a capitalist world."

For more information, contact:

Stanley Simpson Tel: (689) 413 694 or (689) 413 696 Fax: (689) 413 723 E-mail: syble@mail.pf

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