6th September, 2012
French Polynesia should be put on a list of countries to be decolonised, according to a statement from the World Council of Churches.
The organisation's central committee calls on French authorities “to fulfil their obligations and provide all necessary means for the economic, social and cultural development of the Maohi people”. In a statement, it also “urges France to compensate all those affected by nuclear testing and radioactivity” in the vicinity.
IDYLLIC ISLAND LIFE? The WCC is calling on France, the United Nations, and the international community "to support the re-inscription of French Polynesia on the UN list of countries to be decolonized",
PICTURE: Daniela Martina/sxc.hu
The French Government removed French Polynesia, known as Maohi Nui, from a list of countries to be decolonised in 1947. The list had been been drawn up by the fledgling United Nations.
French Polynesia became a French protectorate in 1842 and a French colony in 1880. It was not until 1946 that the indigenous Maohi people acquired French citizenship.
The WCC statement, issued following a meeting held in Crete between 28th August and 5th September, says that when France held a referendum among its colonies in the Pacific islands in 1958, "opposition to French colonization was suppressed" and "(s)ubsequently, Maohi Nui remained as a French colony".
According to the statement, moves towards increased local autonomy began in 1977, and new statutes creating a fully elected local executive were approved in Paris in 1977. In 2003, French Polynesia's status was changed to that of an ‘overseas collectivity’ and in 2004 it was declared an ‘overseas country’.
"Today, French Polynesia is a semi-autonomous territory of France with its own parliament, assembly, president and executive government," the statement says. "Nonetheless, France continues to exert influence on domestic affairs. Leaders have limited power over many essential domestic and international matters. For example, France administers the justice and education system, defence, currency, health, emigration, land rights, environment and international maritime borders without the consent or participation of the Polynesian people."
As well as calling for the "re-inscription of French Polynesia on the UN list of countries to be decolonized", the statement also invites member churches and international faith-based organisations to support the advocacy efforts being undertaken to this end.
For the full statement, follow this link...
- DAVID ADAMS