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PAPEETE, Tahiti (Tahitipresse, July 26) – A Pacific group representing regional non-government and community organizations has called on Pacific Island Forum governments to support French Polynesia President Oscar Temaru's recent public comments about "his people's right to self-determination".

In a media communiqué sent out from its Fiji headquarters on Tuesday, the Pacific Concerns Resource Center (PCRC) said it is "unfortunate that President Temaru has copped enormous flack from mainland France, including anti-independence politicians and senior French officials in French Polynesia."

The Center was referring to the reaction of pro-France, pro-autonomy political leaders in Tahiti as well as French High Commissioner Anne Boquet. They were critical of Temaru's remarks at the July 17 opening of the 1st Pacific Youth Festival in Tahiti.

Temaru, leader of Tahiti's biggest independence political party in addition to heading up French Polynesia's majority coalition government, asked the festival "to consider the issue of independence and more specifically 'the freedom of the Maohi (Tahitian) people'", the Center said.

French Polynesia, one of three French Pacific overseas territories, is scheduled to assume the new status of an associate member of the Pacific Islands Forum at its annual meeting, which is due to be held in Tonga in October.

The 16-member Pacific Islands Forum represents the heads of government of all independent and self-governing Pacific Island countries, Australia and New Zealand. The 14 other member countries are Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

"Pacific leaders must not allow one of their Forum neighbors to be 'bullied around', Pacific Concerns Resource Center Director Tupou Vere said in the communiqué. He urged Forum leaders "to defend President Temaru's right to make statements on a fundamental and universally accepted human right: the right to self-determination.

"PCRC supports President Temaru in encouraging his people to openly discuss the subject of decolonization and self-determination and is calling on Pacific Island Forum leaders to do the same," the communiqué reported.

The Center describes itself as "the secretariat for the Nuclear Free and Independent Pacific (NFIP) Movement". Claiming to represent more than "100 affiliated non-government and community organizations from around the Pacific", the Center’s Internet website says its five areas of interest are "demilitarization, decolonization, environment, human rights and good governance and sustainable human development".

The Center communiqué presented several of Temaru's comments made during Monday night's televised interview, but offered no comments from opposition political leaders who criticized his comments.

July 28, 2006


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