31 March 2011

UN Decolonisation Seminar Set for Cayman Islands 24-26 May


United Nations Press Release
Special Committee on Decolonization
2nd Meeting (AM)

The General Assembly’s Special Committee on Decolonization decided today to hold its Caribbean regional seminar on implementation of the Third International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism (2011-2020) in Cape Town (sic), Cayman Islands, from 24 to 26 May.

The Committee... also authorized its Chair, Francisco Carrion-Mena (Ecuador), to finalize the composition of the official delegation, as well as the list of experts and non-governmental organizations that will be invited to attend.

Mr. Carrion-Mena told Member States that the official delegation would comprise the Bureau and one Special Committee member from each regional group: Africa; Asia; Latin America and the Caribbean; and Eastern Europe. As such, it would consist of eight representatives, he said, adding that the United Nations would bear the cost of the delegation’s travel. Owing to the shortage of time, he requested that Committee members entrust him with the mandate to complete the list of the formal delegation following informal consultations among the regional groups. He would, he said, duly inform the Committee of the final list.

As in previous years, the Bureau planned to invite three experts and three representatives of non-governmental organizations to speak at the Seminar, all six of whom would be funded by the United Nations. The list of proposed participants would be reviewed by the Bureau and circulated in short order to all Committee members under separate cover.

Mr. Carrion-Mena said that he would request, through the Secretariat, those Committee members who wished to submit additional names for the list of experts to do so. “I think it’s important to have a greater participation,” he stressed, adding that “we shouldn’t just use a list we already have”.

He also informed Committee members that, in determining the venue, a number of factors were considered, including the political situation and logistics of several countries in the Caribbean. Following a request from Cuba, information and statistical data on the Territories had been provided on the Special Committee’s web page. In the end, however, the Committee had followed through with its intention to hold the meeting in the Cayman Islands.

He further noted that all elected and appointed officials of the Non-Self-Governing Territories would be invited, while invitations would also be extended to other Member States, administering Powers, specialized United Nations agencies and some regional organizations.

(For coverage on the last UN Decolonisation Seminar, see: Intensification of Decolonisation Process Discussed at the United Nations )

Following those announcements, the Special Committee also approved the guidelines and rules of procedures, including the seminar’s agenda (document A/AC.109/2011/18), and endorsed English as the seminar’s official language. As in the past, the Special Committee will celebrate the Week of Solidarity with the Peoples of the Non-Self-Governing Territories at the seminar.

After a suggestion by the representative of Saint Lucia, the Committee decided to seek proposals for the themes of the Third Decade, which was declared by the General Assembly at its sixty-fifth session, prior to the seminar to facilitate discussion.

Before closing the meeting, Mr. Carrion-Mena, who was elected Chair at the previous meeting of the Special Committee, paid particular tribute to the outgoing Chair Donatus Keith St. Aimée ( Saint Lucia), as well as the work conducted under his helm. “I hope I can keep up the same pace,” he said, underscoring his commitment to the milestones that had already been set.

Congressional Delegate Calls for a Legitimate Act of Self-Determination for Guahan (Guam)


Political leaders in Guam have stepped up their efforts to bring about the modernisation of the political status of the territory through a self-determination process in the U.S.-administered territory in the Pacific. Recently, Guam Congressional Delegate Madeleine Z. Bordallo called for the resolution of the political status dilemma in the territory through “a legitimate act of Chamorro self determination.” In an address to the people of Guam delivered at the Antonio R. Unpingco Legislative Session Hall at the Guam Legislature in Hagatna, Delegate Bordallo made the following points:

“As we embark on this journey to our future, one of the first steps—maybe the most important step—is to resolve our political status through a legitimate act of Chamorro self determination. Last year Congress passed, and the President signed, a bill I authored to provide federal funding for political status education in the territories.

I have asked Assistant Secretary Tony Babauta to make this a top priority, even as his budget cuts dictate that not all needs will be met in this fiscal year. I commend the Governor for stating that this is also his priority, and Senators Pangelinan and Respicio for their initiatives to move us toward decolonization.

Resolving our political status, and decolonizing Guam, is a process that will cause us to examine our relationship with the United States, and determine what is best for our island and our people. We need to get on with this process and I will do my part in joining with the Governor and Legislature to make the self-determination vote a reality.”

This statement of Delegate Bordallo follows the extensive report on political status issued by the transition team of Governor Guam Governor Eddie Baza Calvo who began his first term last January. The report provided an extensive history of past action on the political status front, and made a number of key recmmendations:

"While the Government of Guam’s participation in political status and the area of Chamorro Self-Determination has been minimal over the past eight years, there have been a number of initiatives on the part of civil society that has advanced this area of work. Initiatives towards this end have included the following: testimonies before the United Nations’ (UN) Committee on Decolonization, the General Assembly’s Fourth Committee, and the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues; participation in the UN Pacific Seminars bi-annually; revitalization of the Chamorro Registry; University of Guam educational initiatives; the production of scholarly articles deepening the legal understanding of Chamorro Self-Determination; and the passage of a Congressional authorization to fund a local political status educational campaign...

Executive Summary of Recommendations

The Political Status &  External Affairs Subcommittee recommends that Governor-Elect Calvo and Lt. Governor-Elect Tenorio reactivate the work of the Commission on Decolonization in order to fulfill their intentions of conducting a political status plebiscite during their term of office."

As the international community has embarked on the third decade to focus attention on the decolonization of the remaining territories worldwide, the increased attention to the issue in Guam concides with the issuance of the 2011 White House Report on Puerto Rico which has important implicatins for the evolution of a permanent political status for the five U.S. territories.

UPDATEGuam senator: Move forward on Chamorro-only vote

See also:

Self-Determination Legislation - Opportunity for US Administered Territories?
US House Approves Political Status Education Bill
US Congressional Committee Approves Self-Determination Assistance to Territories
US Virgin Islands Delegate Clarifies Status of Political Status Legislation

Statia Coalition Government Addresses People


 SINT EUSTATIUS – On Friday, March 11th 2011 the newly installed Executive Council of St. Eustatius held its first monthly Press Conference along with the Deputy Kingdom Representative, Mr. Hans Gerritsen in the V.A. Lopes legislative Hall.

The Island Governor, Mr. Gerald Berkel opened the press conference addressing the immediate actions by the newly appointed commissioners on their first day. He used the expression” on day one they hit the ground running.” He passed the word over to Commissioner Clyde van Putten followed by Commissioner Glenn Schmidt and concluded with the deputy Kingdom representative Mr. Hans Gerritsen.

Mr. Clyde van Putten highlighted the areas discussed in the Executive Council with the Kingdom representative. He talked about the education conference for March 25 and 26th 2011 where the Minister of Education of the Netherlands, Mrs. Maria Bijsterveld would be present.

The Commissioners of Education and stakeholders of the various Territories (Saba and Bonaire) would also be participating in this conference. To assure that St. Eustatius is well prepared he announced that he would talk to his predecessor Mr. Roy Hooker, who was responsible for education for two terms.

The outcome of the elections was briefly touched. He hopes that the results of the election sends a clear message to the Dutch Government stationed in the Hague, that the people of Statia wanted change. He said that the newly formed coalition does not oppose the status but the content needs to be reviewed, areas like healthcare and taxes needs to be looked at.

Another area which successive governments talked about is proper housing for the government administration. When we talk about good governance we need to assure that civil servants have the necessary tools and good housing facility to accomplish this. The lengthy procedures of government for decision-making should be something of the past. One of their campaign promises was to assure that the general public acquire timely and active information from the Island Government through the office of the Government Information Service.

To accomplish this goal they wish to restructure the government information service to be able to have nightly TV programming. Mr. van Putten concluded that the newly formed coalition government is for all the people of St. Eustatius.

Commissioner Schmidt, described his first day as exciting, although they just went through the recent election followed by the inauguration on March 10th and immediately at work on March 11th 2011. His introductory meeting in his new capacity as commissioner with Mr. Hans Gerritsen was pleasant. In this meeting they became knowledgeable of his interest and concerns.

They hope to have a good working relationship with him to get the necessary results for the people of Statia. They talked about many issues of which Transparency in government stood out. Reviewing this topic in general and the functioning of government it must be transparent to the public. He explained about his relatively large family of which his sister and other relatives are employed at finance and other areas of government.

When certain services are to be carried out through these sectors, the people need to know that it has the Executive councils approval. Another important topic was that of the governing programme of the government. Mr. Glenn Schmidt explained that the coalition parties are in the process of putting a committee together to complete the governing programme. He gave a time frame of 60 days in which the programme will be completed. Thereafter it will be presented to the Island council who will hold the Executive Council accountable for carrying it out within 4 years.

The Deputy Kingdom Representative, Mr. Hans Gerritsen opened his address by congratulating the Island Governor, Mr. Gerald Berkel for the good flow of the elections. He also extended his congratulations to the newly appointed commissioners for the accomplishments of their parties. They briefly talked about the role of the Kingdom Representative, with the chief responsibility to look at the governments on the islands with the objective that there is good governance.

Listening to the steps to be taken by the commissioner with regard to transparency in government was of an important and positive nature. He mentioned the Dualism, which is the change in the ground rules. He indicated in the Executive Council Meeting the urgency of the appointment of a Griffier (recorder) responsible for the preparations of everything surrounding the Island Council meetings.

It is customary to host a press conference after each visit of the Kingdom Representative to inform the general public of the points that were discussed. Although these press conferences are usually short in nature, the government will enlighten the public more detailed on these topics through the Government Information Service weekly press conferences.

30 March 2011

Political Analyst Questions Direction of Bermuda - UK Relationship


A Changing Relationship?

by Walton Brown

The British once proudly proclaimed, “The sun never sets on British soil” so vast was its colonial empire. The Irish refrain was: “Because God doesn't trust them in the dark.” Trust has been a difficult matter to countenance when involving the UK and its colonial territories since British public pronouncements have often varied wildly from its actions. In this light, the comment last week by Andrew Rosindell, chairman of the UK Overseas Territories Parliamentary Group, that his government wants a “modern relationship not a colonial one” beggars belief.

Britain's credibility regarding Bermuda was vanquished when, during our two most significant struggles for social justice the fight to end racial segregation and the quest for universal suffrage it sat by and made no demonstrable effort to lead. And this is despite signing the UN Charter pledging, under Article 73, it was a “sacred trust” to promote our well-being. This pattern continued for decades. In 1999 there was a re-packaging of the UK-colony relations under New Labour with the seductively labelled “Partnership for Progress” White Paper. All one had to do was actually read the document to see the proposed new relationship had virtually nothing to do with partnering and everything to do with a series of unilateral decisions imposed by the British.

If the UK government is serious about a modern relationship with Bermuda and the other colonies then their actions must be based on a coherent set of principles and they must cease navigating the waters of opportunism and expediency. A good place to start could well be to fix the “democratic deficit” mentioned by Mr Rosindell. The reality is that Bermudians in Bermuda have neither full political rights here nor in the UK: we have no say, for example, in Britain going to war and we do not make our own decisions in the international arena. Mr Rosindell's answer is to form a standing committee of the UK Parliament where Bermuda could have representation. While this may be helpful, it does little to reduce the democratic deficit.

If the UK government is serious about a modern relationship they will end the strategy, bordering on a conspiracy, to encourage Bermudians to acquire a British passport by denigrating the Bermuda passport. Until 2006, Bermuda passport holders could travel without a visa to most countries in Europe and many around the world. This was because of the efforts initiated by former Immigration Minister Sir John Sharpe in the 1980s. A visa regime was imposed on Bermuda for the Schengen countries in Europe solely because in 2006 the UK government incorrectly informed the European Union that Overseas Territories citizens did not have the “right of abode” in the UK. This was four years after the same UK government granted full UK citizenship to all of its colonial subjects. Further, the British have imposed the ridiculous policy of requiring Bermudians to hold a British passport to secure their residency in the UK. If we are British we are British. A British woman born and raised in Liverpool is British whether or not she has a British passport.

A modern relationship should start with respect for the powers the Bermuda Government holds under our Constitution. If those powers are to change it should be the result of a negotiated agreement between the two governments. It certainly should not be singular action by the UK based on what they have referred to as “contingent liability”.

If Mr Rosindell embodies what we can look forward under the relatively new British Government then we have much to be concerned about. When he referred to “Britain fulfilling its responsibilities as the mother country” that comment should have sent a collective shiver felt by all, save for the colonial-minded. One can only speak of the “mother” country with their being a concomitantly clear sense of the child in tow immature, in need of protection and guidance and certainly not equal.

One simply cannot have a modern relationship with a 19th Century ethos.

Walton Brown is a social and political commentator. Follow his blog on: http://www.respicefinem1.blogspot.com/.
He can be contacted at walton@researchmix.com

28 March 2011

British Ban Island Journalists in Turks and Caicos Islands

 Press freedom under attack by British 'interim' government which instituted direct one-man rule from London in 2009, abolished democratic institutions, and recolonised the colony.


Two journalists banned from (interim) government press conferences

Written by Richard Green
FP Turks and Caicos

Turks and Caicos Islands Attorney General Huw Shepheard has banned outspoken radio talk show hosts Robert Hall and Devon Williams from attending government press conferences and will do the same to any other journalists who “behave unprofessionally or who associate themselves too closely with illegal activity.”

Hall, who hosts the “Expressions” talk show on government-run Radio Turks and Caicos (RTC), and Devon Williams, CEO of privately owned Blaze 97.5 FM, were both banned because of their actions in the March 8-12 protest that included an illegal blockade of Airport Road on Providenciales, Shepheard said.

Williams, who is also spokesman for Turks and Caicos Islanders United for Justice and Equality (TCIUJE) which planned the blockade, was one of the leaders of the protest and was arrested with several others for obstruction. Hall covered the event as an RTC journalist, but he also took the microphone during the protest and spoke in support of protesters’ demand for the interim government to set a date for elections. However, he urged them not to block the main road to the airport but to conduct peaceful demonstrations.

The blockade caused two American Airlines flights to be canceled, but traffic was quickly routed to another airport entrance to get travelers to and from their flights to this British Overseas Territory. His Excellency the Gov. Gordon Wetherell supports the attorney general’s actions.

“There is an ordinance today, particularly in the case of public broadcasting, which has actually been infringed in this case,” Wetherell said at a press conference March 23 with Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials. “As custodian of the law, the attorney general wrote to the RTC in pursuance of that.”

Asked if other journalists had to fear similar action, the governor said, “I don’t see why that should affect anyone in this room. I don’t think you have anything to worry about.” On March 11, Hall hosted a special afternoon edition of “Expressions” with protest leaders and others. Hall said the program was “brought to you by” the TCIUJE. That program caught the attention of the attorney general, who spoke with RTC station manager Chris Jarrett that day and followed the conversation with a letter to Jarrett, which Hall read on his show March 21.

“I expressed the concern that Mr. Hall had departed from the requirements in the broadcasting ordinance that impartiality is preserved as respects issues of political controversy or current public policy, Section 5.2(c) of the ordinance, and I have heard further that the overall coverage of the protest may also have fallen short of the statutory requirement of impartiality,” Shepheard said.

The attorney general said he was awaiting recordings of the broadcasts from Jarrett.

“In the meantime, I think it is important that I reemphasize the government’s policy in relation to journalistic activity,” Shepheard said. “The government clearly recognizes that TCI’s media have a key role to play in reporting and critically assessing government policies on behalf of the TCI public, and the government welcomes the full engagement of TCI’s many journalists and their robust questions.

“Although the standards set out in the broadcasting ordinance only apply directly to public broadcasters, those of decency, accuracy and responsibility at least are hallmarks of professional journalism, whether in public service broadcasting or elsewhere. Accordingly, journalists who either behave unprofessionally or who associate themselves too closely with illegal activity such as by blocking the Airport Road will not be invited to government press conferences. However, they will continue to receive all government press releases.”

As to what Hall said shortly after 2 p.m. on the radio, “I’m yet to see or hear what that concern is,” Hall said.

Hall said he thought the interim government “would have at least said or wrote to me citing what infractions I may have committed, if indeed I did commit any infraction, and give me an opportunity to respond to them. I’m still waiting. But nevertheless, they have made their decisions. I’m not angry about it.”

Hall’s program is still on the air.

Hall said he didn’t associate with those who illegally blocked the road, pointing out that he encouraged protesters to remove the blockade because of the inconvenience to tourists and the chance of slowing medical emergency responses.

On March 22, Williams received a letter from Shepheard saying Williams too was banned from government press conferences.

“The government has decided that, while it is perfectly content to receive other journalists at its press briefings, you will no longer be permitted to attend,” Shepheard told Williams.

In a press release early March 24, Williams said, "While I am deeply and profoundly offended by the tone and content of the AG’s correspondence, my significant concern is about the danger which it embodies and signifies and the rather serious implications which it has for the wider Turks and Caicos Islands in general and this country’s media in particular."

While both Hall and Williams have regularly attended government press conferences as journalists, they vigorously voice their opinions during press conferences and on their radio shows.

A Commission of Inquiry in early 2009 revealed allegations of corruption in the Progressive National Party’s (PNP) elected government that had plunged the country deep into debt. The elected government and parts of the Constitution were suspended, and the governor took over what was initially envisioned as a two-year direct U.K. rule to right the country’s finances and weed out corruption.

But when the government's financial troubles were worse than expected, and criminal and civil investigations into corruption were not complete, the U.K. decided that elections would not be held as scheduled in July 2011. The U.K. then extended its control indefinitely, but the governor says the U.K. hopes to restore local government with elections sometime in 2012.

However, the U.K.’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office insists that elections won’t happen until the TCI revises and strengthens the country’s Constitution, addresses past government mismanagement and gets the country’s finances in order.

Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee has expressed concern that allegedly corrupt former government officials might seek office if elections were held before completion of criminal investigations.

A number of former PNP officials under investigation, including former Premier Michael Misick, participated in and supported the protest and demand for elections, while the opposition People’s Democratic Movement has spoken out against the demonstration.

Maritime Boundaries Commission Set in St. Kitts & Nevis over borders with French/Dutch overseas entities


The governance of the maritime area within the OECS is characterised by unresolved maritime boundaries and related disputes.

By Erasmus Williams, CUOPM

BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, FEBRUARY 24TH 2011 (CUOPM) – St. Kitts and Nevis has set up a Committee to settle disputes and uncertainties regarding the twin-island Federation’s maritime boundaries.

Minister of Tourism and International Transport, Sen. the Hon. Richard Skerrit has informed the Cabinet that St. Kitts and Nevis has overlapping or disputed maritime boundaries with the Netherlands Antilles (St. Eustatius), Venezuela, The French Antilles (St. Barthelemy), Antigua and Barbuda, and Montserrat (effectively, the United Kingdom).

(Editor's Note: The five-island 'Netherlands Antilles' ceased to exist on 10th October 2010, with St. Eustatius, nearby Saba and more distant Bonaire becoming partially integrated 'public entities' of the Dutch Kingdom. Future border disputes involving St. Eustatius or the other new integrated parts of the European Union are now to be discussed with the Dutch Kingdom which has initiated direct ties with the three islands. This power was formerly exercised by the previous central government of the Netherlands Antilles in Curacao. That central govenrment has now been now dismantled, and Curacao and Sint Maarten have become two new autonomous countries associated with the Dutch Kingdom. See also http://www.normangirvan.info/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/corbin-caribbean-self-determination.pdf ).

“The Cabinet of Ministers was asked to support a proposal to engage the relevant countries to begin a process of resolution of our maritime boundaries,” Minister of Information, Sen. the Hon. Nigel Carty said following the weekly Cabinet Meeting. He said that Government believes that there are clear benefits to the resolution of the country's maritime boundaries.

“Firstly, it will definitively establish the maritime space over which St. Kitts and Nevis will be able to exercise various rights as a matter of international law. For example, a stable basis will be provided for the better management of fisheries and other marine resources. Secondly, the settlement of the maritime boundaries will give rise to better control and monitoring of shipping of dangerous and illicit commodities through our waters. There are of course other benefits,” said Minister Carty.

He said that the Cabinet approved a committee consisting of a wide range of skilled persons that will spearhead the negotiation process for the settlement of our maritime boundaries. Cabinet Secretary, Mr. Joseph Edmeade said the names of the Committee members will be made public once the individuals have agreed to serve.

Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Heads of Government in recent years have been giving consistent focus to the subject of the delimitations of our countries’ maritime boundaries. The governance of the maritime area within the OECS is characterized by unresolved maritime boundaries and related disputes.

West Papua: Theological Declaration of Churches in Papua



INDONESIA: Theological Declaration of Churches in Papua


Dear brothers and sisters

We, Papuan Church leaders send you as our partners, our theological statement issued recently as reflection of our faith over the worsening Human Rights situation in Papua.

The recent document issued by ministry of Home Affairs in Jakarta on January 13, 2011 which support election process of Papua People's Assembly (Majelis Rakyat Papua) heavily guarded by TNI (Indonesian Army) and Red & whites militias (which gave no room and freedom to Papua communities) as Kairos, moment of truth to issue this theological statement.

We thank you for your continued support and participation in our pastoral ministry here.

May God continue to bless us and our work.

Elly D. Doirebo M.Si
Deputy Chairperson of Synod of Evangelical Christian Church of Papua

Rev.Dr. Benny Giay
Chairperson of Synod of Papuan Christian Church

Rev. Socrates Sofyan Yoman MA
Chairperson of Fellowship Papuan Baptist Churches


Today on January 26th, 2011 we, Leaders of churches in the Land of Papua, along with Christian congregations, gather to declare our stance and position with regard to the state of government and its development policies pursued in the Land of Papua since annexation of Papua by the Unitary Republic of Indonesia, specifically with the introduction of the Law No. 21/2001 regarding the Special Autonomy for Papua.

As Churches, we are deeply concerned over the condition of our peoples, especially the indigenous Papuans, owners of this land, whose fate has been cornered to uncertainty amid development policies staged by the Indonesian Government in the Land of Papua. Such development policy is more characterized by physical structures/infrastructural development and to promote the interests of Indonesia in the Land of Papua.

The implementation of Special Autonomy for Papua has been inconsistent and inconsequent is a strong indication of insincerity of the Indonesian Government which led Papuans to view that OTSUS has FAILED. MRP, as a manifestation of the Special Autonomy with its members hastily selected and further exacerbated with the government's ignorance of Ii point recommendations produced by the grand meeting of MRP (Papuan Peoples' Assembly) itself, is therefore considered as an insult to the people of Papua, as people created in the image of God. The Churches also question the letter issued recently by the Minister of Home Affairs No, 188.341/1 l0/SJ regarding clarification pertaining to Special Regulation for Papua Province dated 13 January 2011 which further annihilate the right and existence of indigenous Papuans in their own motherland.

We see such situation as Kairos, a momentum for Churches to speak and express our stance and deep concerns in the form of the following Theological Declaration.

First, we are convinced that these processes repeat the same old process of annexation of Papua into Indonesia which is legally and culturally a flaw. The process of the Act of Free Choice (Pepera) in 1969 has been the root of problem on democracy and legality for the people of Papua. Ever since its integration into Indonesia, Papua has become a troubled territory under the authority of the Indonesian government.

Second, Papuans have undergone a 'Silence history of suffering' or memmoria passsionis leading to Genocide. The discourse of genocide has long been voiced by so many observers who are deeply concerned over the very existence of Papuans. The term genocide perhaps does not meet the criteria set forth by the UN, or other nations, or by Indonesia. But from our own view as victims, genocide is indeed taking place through the conditioning staged by Jakarta in the forms of ideology and development policies that are against the indigenous Papuans. Transmigration policy and unrelenting military operations are, in our view well-planned programs to eventually annihilate indigenous Papuans. Papuans are positioned as "the other" and as such warrant surveillance, control, and civilization. Papuans are not equal citizens of Indonesia. Some observers in Jakarta view this as an internal colonialism or disguised slavery against Papuans.

Third, we, churches of Papua acknowledge our own failures and sins for being silent for too long over demonic and destructive nature of the development policy and modernization on indigenous Papuans, which according to observers in Jakarta as internal colonialism and disguised slavery. Papuan churches have misarticulated the Scripture which states: "the government is the Lord's representative on earth, worthy of respect." Up until now, this has caused us incapable of playing our prophetic role.

Fourth, to respond to the challenges faced by Papuans, we, the churches are determined to return to our roots, to our Christian traditions, namely to the Scripture and church history. Thus, we view the sufferings of our Papuan people from the biblical perspective (Matthew 16:3b) "signs of times" and see it as theological and missiological challenges. This implies that the Lord is sending us, Papuan churches to His people who are traversing a dark history of suffering and oppression. It is therefore, as churches in Papua we want to hear to regularly raise questions and communicate with the Lord "what do you have in mind with regard to the behavior of those who indulge in disguised slavery against our people? Do you agree and applaud them?"

Fifth, consequently we want to view this critical position of churches in Papua in expressing the grievances of Papuans in the land of Papua is an integral part of our calling to spread the good News commanded by the Holy Scripture. The Scripture and church history are our basis for action. In this mission, the church is sent to shepherd the Lord's people, keep the image of the Lord to be free from abuse (John 10:11; 21:12, 16, 19). As shepherds, we are obliged to listen to the voices of our sheep (congregation); in this light we raise our voice because "our life boat is drowning; the candle of our people is being put off in the name of development and territorial sovereignty."

Sixth, with regard to development policy and current government administration, we hereby declare: (a) that the Indonesian government has FAILED to promote the welfare of indigenous Papuans especially since the Special Autonomy was passed. Therefore we urge the government to immediately halt the whole process of election of members of the MRP (Papuan People's Assembly) taking place currently and respond to the 11 point recommendation made by the MRP grand meeting; (b) and as a solution, we urge the Indonesian government to open itself and hold a dialogue with indigenous Papuans to be mediated by a neutral third party; (c) we are appalled by the attitude exhibited by indigenous Papuan state officers who are ignorant of the rights of their own people.

Seventh, we urge our Papuan communities to stand up, to work on your own salvation, and express the truth before the present tyrant state authorities, who is on a rampage of internal colonialism, ethnic cleansing (genocide), and disguised slavery against your own Nation.

Eight, to our Papuan communities, in Indonesia, and anywhere else, do pray for us in solidarity to make us stand firm in embracing today's challenges in Papua that are full of pain and tears.

End of this declaration.

Leaders of Churches in Papua
Elly D. Doirebo M.Si
Deputy Chairperson of Synod of Evangelical Christian Church of Papua

Rev. Dr. Benny Giay
Chairperson of Synod of Papuan Christian Church

Rev. Socrates Sofyan Yoman MA
Chairperson of Fellowship Papuan Baptist Churches

About AHRC: The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation that monitors human rights in Asia, documents violations and advocates for justice and institutional reform to ensure the protection and promotion of these rights. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.

22 March 2011



21 de marzo de 2011


El señor Presidente del ATENEO PUERTORRIQUENO, el Dr. José Milton Soltero Ramírez, el Director de la Sección de Historia del Ateneo, el Lcdo. Daniel Nina, con la colaboración del Archivo Nacional de Teatro y Cine del Ateneo invitan al público en general a participar del DIÁLOGO DE ESCRITORES NEGROS Y NEGRAS CONTEMPORÁNEOS: COMO REPENSAR LA HISTORIA Y SU NARRATIVA DEL SIGLO 19, este próximo sábado, 26 de marzo de 2011, en la Biblioteca del Ateneo a las 5:00 de la tarde.

Sobre la razón de este Diálogo, el Lcdo. Nina se expresó: “Ya terminó la concepción de que los negros del siglo XIX solo servían para la esclavitud. Los recientes trabajos de José “Chuco” Quintero sobre la música y la danza de los negros y los de Roberto Ramos-Perea sobre la intelectualidad y la literatura negra del siglo XIX y principios del XX, han demostrado claramente que hay una nueva visión del rol del negro y la negra en los entendidos sociales e históricos, como creadores de productos culturales trascendentes y también como literatos e intelectuales en el mismo siglo XIX y que éstos se transfieren a una literatura negra contemporánea en Puerto Rico. Dialogar sobre ese viaje de narrativas se hace imperioso. Ya no somos esclavos.”

Para la activa participación en este diálogo han sido invitados los escritores e investigadores la Dra. Marie Ramos, el Lcdo. Ebenecer López Ruyol, el Prof. Héctor Bermúdez, el Prof. Juan de la Matta “Prietusco”, el Prof. Roberto Ramos-Perea y Lcdo. Daniel Nina. El diálogo comenzará puntual a las 5:00 de la tarde en la Biblioteca del Ateneo y la entrada es libre.

Para mayor información: 787-977-2307 y 787-722-4839.


Northern Marianas Should Reassess Commonwealth Political Status, Says N. Marianas Lawmaker


Representative Stanley T. Torres says that the  CNMI should ‘reassess’ US ties.

By Emmanuel T. Erediano 
Marianas Variety

 THE commonwealth and federal governments need to sit down again and assess their political ties, according to Rep. Stanley T. Torres. He noted that his colleagues are finally considering his political status bill that has been with the House Committee on Judiciary and Governmental Operations for more than one year now.

House Bill 17-7, which Torres introduced on Jan. 22, 2010, proposes to create a commission that will revisit the Covenant and look at an “alternative” political and economic status for the islands. Chaired by Rep. Ralph S. Demapan, Covenant-Saipan, the committee plans to hold a public hearing on the measure at 6 p.m. on Monday next week at the multi-purpose center in Susupe.

In an interview yesterday, Torres, Ind.-Saipan, said the timing is “very right to bring this proposal up because it appears that the federal government has been screwing us for a long time.” With all the problems the commonwealth is now suffering due to federal restrictions, Torres said it’s about time to reassess the islands’ political relationship with the U.S. as established by the 1976 Covenant.

“The feds give us money but instead of letting us make the best use of it ourselves, they put a lot of restrictions,” Torres said.

H.B. 17-7, he added, will bring the CNMI and the federal government back to the negotiating table which he hopes will make the U.S. “realize” the “hardship” it has imposed on the commonwealth. Once the new political status commission is formed, Torres said it can renegotiate the exclusive economic zone that, he added, the federal government “took” from the CNMI people.

The second Marianas Political Status Commission proposed by Torres will consist of 11 voting members and the presiding officers of the Legislature as non-voting ex-officio members. They will reexamine the political status of the NMI as commonwealth of the U.S. and the federal interpretation of the Covenant.

The panel members will also asses how the local and federal government lived up to their obligations under the Covenant. They will also look at a future political and economic status for the NMI that includes but is not limited to complete independence from the U.S., free association, or statehood.

“I invite the people to attend the public hearing and bring up their frustration about our political relationship with the U.S.” Torres said.

 See also:  International Governance Expert Discusses Changes in Northern Marianas Covenant

21 March 2011

Am. Samoa Governor Argues for Self-Government


By Fili Sagapolutele
Samoa News

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa - American Samoa appointing its own chief justice and associate justice was a topic raised during a meeting earlier this month in Washington D.C., and the decision was for both the territorial government and the Interior Department to conduct their own separate reviews, and research before another meeting is called for further discussions.

Gov. Togiola Tulafono said publicly that one of the issues he planned to raise with the Interior Department officials is the issue of having American Samoa appoint its own chief and associate justices and other justices of the High Court - all subject to legislative approval.

Speaking on his weekend radio program, Togiola said one of his last meetings in Washington was with Interior Assistant Secretary for Insular Areas Anthony Babauta and Office of Insular Affairs director Nikolau Pula to discuss two issues, including this one.

Togiola said he informed the Department of the Interior (DOI) officials that the territory is not fully self-governing, because of this last remaining issue dealing with the two top posts of the Judicial Branch, which are currently appointed by the Secretary of Interior.

Togiola says he believes that this is one reason why the United Nations has kept American Samoa on the list of world colonies, because there is still this issue - the justices being appointed by Interior.

While the DOI officials agreed with American Samoa's argument for full self-government, the officials prefer to keep the current arrangement, said the governor, adding that he did point out that American Samoans are being called up in the military to fight for democracy in other countries, while the territory is not given a fully democratic-self government.

He said the outcome of the meeting was that both sides are to conduct their own review and research on this matter, with a meeting to be called later for further discussions.

Togiola says that even if the territory appoints its chief justice and associate justice, American Samoa will still remain under the jurisdiction of the Interior Department.

While in the nation's capital, one of the meetings attended by the governor, held on Mar. 1, was the Interagency Group on Insular Areas (IGIA), whose online link on the Office of Interior Affairs (OIA) website provided Briefing Papers for the 2011 Senior Plenary Session of the IGIA.

One brief deals with this issue that American Samoa would like to appoint its own chief justice and associate justices, an authority which the Secretary of Interior has exercised for six decades.

For background information, according to the briefing paper, OIA provides American Samoa Government (ASG) with an annual operations grant totaling US$22.7 million which funds ASG's education and health systems and the High Court, whose share of the annual ASG operations grant is approximately US$855,000, of which OIA withholds US$346,500 for the direct payment of salary and benefits to the chief justice and associate justice, who are OIA career-service employees.

"So long as ASG's executive and legislative branches have preferred to maintain this system for the High Court, a practice with which the other insular areas dispensed decades ago, Office of Interior Affairs has been willing to continue this assistance and to exercise this authority," according to the briefing paper provided by Joseph McDermott with OIA's Policy Division.

"However, it is OIA's policy to promote insular self-government and local responsibility. Concerning this particular issue, OIA has determined that the ASG operations grant should be held constant, thereby encouraging American Samoa Government leaders to assume greater responsibility, both fiscal and managerial, for more aspects of ASG's functions," the briefing paper states. It also says that OIA does not have additional budgetary resources to provide more funds to American Samoa Government for its operations, including the High Court.

Moreover, Office of Interior Affairs officials will need to discuss with the governor of American Samoa and other American Samoa Government leaders how ASG can set aside the additional funding needed to pay for more associate justices and associate judges.

These discussions should include the need for additional personnel vis-à-vis ASG's education and health priorities and how these priorities might affect the current distribution of ASG's operations grant; and the possibility of adopting the practices of Guam, the U.S.Virgin Islands and Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas judicial systems, namely, applying local rates of pay and increasing local authority over appointments, thus making funding available for more High Court employees, it says.

The briefing paper also noted that the 2010 Constitutional Convention decided against including a proposed amendment to the territory's Constitution that would give American Samoa the authority to appoint its own justices.

"In November 2010, American Samoans voted down the entire packet of proposed amendments," the briefing paper concluded. District Court Judge John Ward II and District Court Judge Elvis Patea have already been designated as acting associate justices of the High Court, as the judicial branch has seen a rise in case load.

19 March 2011

Montserrat's Chief Minister named chair of OCTA ministerial conference

BRADES, Montserrat (GIU) – Chief Minister of Montserrat, Reuben Meade, on Monday accepted the chairmanship of the Overseas Countries and Territories Association (OCTA) ministerial conference.

Speaking in New Caledonia at the European Union and OCT Forum, which is the annual gathering of representatives from all of the OCTs and EU member states, the chief minister said it was “both an honour and a privilege to serve the OCTA family in this office. I see my election not only as a serious responsibility but as an opportunity to support the diverse agenda of the OCTs.”

Meade said the targets set by the EU to be achieved by the year 2020 provide “the basis for hope in the OCTs, if we can fully benefit from such an agenda.”  These include:

i. Employment of 75% of their 20 – 64-year-olds.
ii. Investment of 3% of EU’s GDP in Research, Development and Innovation.
iii. Reduction of greenhouse gases by 20% below the 1990 levels (conditioned on international agreement).
iv. Achieving 20% energy from renewable and 20% increase in energy efficiency.
v. Reduction of the school drop-out rates to below 10% and at least 40% of 30 – 34-year-olds completing tertiary education or its equivalent.
vi. Reduction in the levels of poverty and social exclusion by committing to 20 million fewer people at risk of poverty and social exclusion.

However, he said “we must strive for simplicity above complexity; social justice and order above discrimination and pride; and, a cleaner and more sustainable environment above destruction and greed.
“It is no doubt a challenging time to be the chairman of OCTA. We must face the:

• effects of protracted global economic and financial decline;
• falling levels of disposable incomes of our people; and
• increasing challenges of war and natural disasters and their demand on scarce resources.

“There is a need for open discussion about where we all are today. A discussion about what needs to be done individually and collectively to achieve a sustainable future and a realistic allocation of resources to make that future happen. That discussion will include pushing for progress on the [Economic Development Fund] EDF 10 programmes. We continue to face many difficulties in the finalization of the frameworks for the funds to be released,” Meade stated.

He said the OCTs are encountering “the continuous changing of the goal posts in the development of the relevant documentation and processes. We must strive to develop an understanding with the relevant officials in the relevant directorate to overcome these difficulties.”

Meade reiterated his commitment to working with all the OCTs and the European Union to build and focus efforts on a sustainable future and hoped that the Brussels meeting, he is to chair later this year, will show that substantial progress had been made and OCTs “would feel much better about the future of our people.”

Calls for integration of EU and OCT resources for sustained growth

BRADES, Montserrat (GIU) – Chief Minister of Montserrat Reuben Meade has expressed his disappointment at the absence of several key European Union representatives at the EU/OCT Forum now ongoing in New Caledonia and called for more resource integration to reach the established goals.

During his first intervention at the forum, the chief minister said missing from discussions, among others, are members of the EU environment directorate, which is one of the key areas up for discussion in the New Caledonia meetings. He supported a suggestion from the British Virgin Islands to hold all future forums in Brussels, rather than the present practice of rotating the venue dependent on which nation was at the helm.

He noted that many had travelled for miles to “work collectively to build a stronger future” for those they represent. However, he said “some EU directorates relevant to current OCT projects are not attending this Forum as well as regional EU delegations… due to budget considerations.”

“The presence of these personnel is vital at our annual Forum. It provides the opportunity for the OCT’s to dialogue with the Commissioner, the Task Force and the Delegations to share information and in some cases, to plan the way forward for a speedier progress of the SPD, programmes and projects, to which all are in agreement. Given the importance of this issue, I support the intervention by the British Virgin Islands that future fora should be held in Brussels. This would give the opportunity for all players in the partnership who are involved in facilitating the support to OCTs to be present and can share critical information. Given the scarcity of resources, we have to be mindful of the cost effectiveness of hosting these fora outside of Brussels,” Meade said.

The chief minister, who is the incoming chairman of the Overseas Countries and Territories Association (OCTA) Ministerial Conference, said Montserrat is confused by the various pronouncements coming from the European Union.

On the one hand, the joint position papers (JPP) and the political resolutions (PR) speak to partnerships, mutual benefits, and common policies but yet “some of us seem to be under constant threat of losing our economic base and have our reputations undermined by policy directives, activities and pronouncements by the European Union.”

He added that they expected the economies of the OCTs and their way of life should “be protected by our most senior partner(s).”

“We commit to standards of accountability, transparency and good governance and the [European Union] Commission commits to a package of assistance. The goals of our partnership are noble, the standards we aspire to are laudable and the Commission’s support demonstrates their continued commitment to us.

“I dare say that this is a partnership where the member states can suspend or remove our Constitutions, veto our laws, prevent us from borrowing and determine who we have economic and social relationships with. This is a situation that can make political and administrative governance difficult, if not impossible. As a consequence, scarce resources must be diverted from critical programmes into areas where we have had no record of a problem or the volume and quantum of the transactions is miniscule. This is all happening at a time when development and budgetary aid are stagnant or falling, economic activity forecasts are gloomy (notwithstanding short term recovery) and there are both a subtle and overt pressures for OCTs to live on declining budgets.

“This may very well spell disaster for many OCTs that have one or two sector economies, lack natural resources and where government expenditure dominates economic activity. The JPP and political resolution provide a consensus for consideration. However this need for consensus probably masks some of the more specific and serious sustainable development issues of individual countries,” the chief minister’s statement read.

Meade said the potential power of the EU/OCT Forum must be highlighted with the organs of the EU able to transform the economies of the OCTs.

“This underscores the need for balance in using standard policy directives across the diverse range of circumstances within the OCTs. I wish to emphasize the need to integrate and harness the resources and potential of the OCTs for the mutual benefit of the EU/OCT family. It is the only way that we can use our combined economic potential to achieve long term sustainability for all of our peoples,” he said.

Meade also welcomed Bonaire, Curacao, St Eustatius and St Maarten to the OCTA family and wished them well as they developed their governing structures.

Anguilla Honours Its Revolutionary Leader James Ronald Webster


Aspire To Leadership, Webster Tells Youth

Anguilla’s Revolutionary Leader, James Ronald Webster, has called on the island’s young people to prepare themselves for leadership. He was at the time delivering an address on the national holiday on Wednesday, this week, to mark his 85th birthday.

Speaking at the ceremony at the Webster Park, he said there was a need for a committed and invigorated group of young people to turn Anguilla’s challenges into opportunities for economic and social growth. He asked them to look at his example in which he emerged from a poor and little known, but ambitious, youth to become the revolutionary leader and first Chief Minister of Anguilla. The address, in which he also expressed a desire to be given an opportunity to fully retire from public involvement to meditate in private, follows:


Address of James Ronald Webster

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen and the Youth of Our Nation

It is with great pleasure that I extend sincere thanks to all of you on this grand occasion, and I bid you a most cordial welcome. I assure all of you that your presence here, in demonstration of your love and respect for me, is greatly appreciated.

I am indeed happy today to be celebrating my 85th birthday, a special milestone in my journey. I take this opportunity to give Almighty God thanks and praise for sparing my sinful life to see such a ripe age, and for the hope of an even longer existence.

It is said, and probably true, that the first thirty years of anything, be it life, a career or a vocation, are worth all the remaining years. Yet in those precious years, we make mistakes; buthave opportunities to correct them; and we seek to learn and achieve on a road to near perfection, in an imperfect and difficult world. Thanks to the varied experiences of those first thirty years, which help to shape our destiny and mine in particular.

As we reflect on the past years, particularly from 1967-1984, during my term of office, we have much to rejoice about.We have lived, and continue to live, in a country which is peaceful, and where our people enjoy harmonious living despite the many political, social and economic challenges and changes that have come our way.

There were many ups and downs in the early years of our revolution. However, with trust, patience and steady focus on our journey, we eventually obtained legal separation from St. Kitts and are successfully coping with nation-building.

Despite the pressures exerted by St. Kitts, Britain and from other sources, along with our scarce natural resources, wehave remained undaunted. We have made, and are making, every effortto ensure that each young person receive quality education and have hope for a brighter future.

During the revolutionary years, we were able to protect and respect the rights of our citizens; show respect for the sovereignty of our neighbours; and demonstrate how a people can live in love, unity and peace. We also safeguarded the resources of our country for future generations of Anguilla and I hope that this practice, which may have since been allowed to fail, will now continue. Throughout all of those difficult years of our revolution, we remained resolute in our commitment to our island and to Almighty God, our Heavenly Father.

As a young nation, looking towards independence,Anguillians must continue to have faith in God and love our neighbours. If we, as nation, adhere to the rights and wishes of our people, and as family and friends live in peace and share each other’s pains, we will continue to grow from strength to strength, moving steadfastly and united towards a new frontier. The road travelled since 1967 has been long, sometimes eventful and lonely, but we made it, and will continue to succeed, God being our helper.

At this juncture in our history, we are faced with social, economic, constitutional and other problems, some caused by ourselves. We must use the energies and talents we have to confront and overcome these challenges, whether internal or external. We are matured men and women and must demonstrate a sense of responsibility, strength, unity and, where necessary, patience and compassion in dealing with various situations.

We must keep in our thoughts that we are a people struggling for the same cause in the name of freedom and prosperity for all the inhabitants of our lovely homeland. We fought a revolution in 1967 in which there was no bloodshed and avoided a civil war, so to speak. Let us now concentrate on promoting peace, unity and love among ourselves.

There are great challenges ahead. As we continue struggling to reach a safe harbour we cannot afford to sit idly by. Just recently, Anguilla was blessed with a high per capita income, with Anguillians thereby enjoying a more comfortable standard and quality of life. This is what we desire for our homeland – to be a just, caring, prosperous and equitable society.

It is therefore with deep regret that the joys and splendour we had are no more in our grasp. The table has turned in the opposite direction. Today, instead of being surrounded by, and enjoying, the bounty that was ours at the commanding heights of the economy, we have high unemployment, economic stagnation and unbalanced budgets, to mention a few. We also have, most unfortunately, growing crime, with the highest prison population per capita in the Caribbean.

It will take a group of dedicated and invigorated young people, men and women, to turn Anguilla’s challenges into opportunities for economic and social growth and discipline. We are a maturing society, and with national maturity must come responsible governance and political finesse by our leaders.

Among the relevant imperatives which tend to be overlooked by some of us, are good and wise leadership, dedication, honesty and goodwill. With the varied problems facing Anguilla, the stage should now be set for young men and women to come forward to make a decisive commitment to political involvement and leadership.

I always felt that active participation in the political process is vitally important. This is because I think that political involvement is a powerful vehicle by which a people are able to choose their path to personal, public, social and economic development.

It is a Government’s responsibility to inspire its people to improve their standards of living, to create the necessary opportunities for them and to guard their individual rights. Public life is a crowning career for young men and women and it is a most worthy ambition. Clean politics and leadership must be seen as an honourable adventure for those wishing to work towards nation-building.

Seeking political office is an enormous national commitment. But only well-qualified persons in terms of education, dedication and integrity, and with the right leadership charisma, should be selected for public office at the highest level. This holds true whether it is by the ballot box or other forms of legal appointment.

It is here that I wish to emphasise a special appeal to the young people of Anguilla. Aim high. Whatever task comes your way, do it well for you never know what opportunity or calling awaits you. You must be ready to seize every opportunity when it presents itself.

I can only speak about myself as a prime example. I never went to College. My parents were poor, my father being a humble fisherman and my mother an ordinary housewife. As a boy, I travelled to St. Maarten in search of employment and got a job with a wealthy couple. They had no children of their own. They adopted me and I started working on their estate as a shepherd boy, and took on greater responsibility over the 27 years of my service for them. They eventually died and left a fortune for me.

Some years later, I returned to Anguilla. As fortune would have it, I ended up being the Leader of the Anguilla Revolution and the first Chief Minister. That has earned me global recognition. I set out to steer Anguilla along a path of self-determination, political stability, prosperity, prudent fiscal management and a peaceful and safe social environment. My trust was in Almighty God to guide me and through Him, all things were made possible. I rejoice in the fact that He used the foolish toconfound the wise and made the impossible possible.

I am not a John the Baptist, or Stephen, or a martyr in any way. I kept going because there were people who believed in, and trusted, me; people who were looking to me to change the course of history for Anguilla. They followed me and were willing to put their time, energies and entire selves where their trust and faith lay. Many of them are now dead, but their memories will always remain with us. Thankfully, some of them are present here today, among this vast crowd. To you, and those who have passed on, I offer eternal thanks and call for a round of applause.

I am aware that, in addition to the resolve and involvement of my peoplein the early years of political development in Anguilla, there is a debt of gratitude owed to a number of other people. They are our friends and supporters in and outside Anguilla whose help I also graciously and gratefully acknowledge today.

We are gratified that Anguilla has reached this moment in our history, where we are free from oppression and domination from St. Kitts, and on a path for further self-determination in these post revolutionary years.

I am appealing to all Anguillians, old and young, to bury their differences and ill-will and to seek to be united again. Let us make this emerging nation a land of glory and opportunity; a land where we can say with pride and joy that we are Anguillians; a land in which paradise has been regained, with God being our great leader.

I am grateful to the Government of Anguilla for honouring me with this full national holiday for the second time. I am also grateful toall who organised this celebration and all of you who are now here with me celebrating my 85th birthday. Many thanks, above all, to our Heavenly Father, above all, for His bounteous gift of long life to me.

I am a humble man but I believe, as an individual, that I have faithfully and honestly done my part in serving my people and country to the best of my ability, with God’s guidance. My active political career is over, but my life is not ended. I trust that despite all the gratitude and recognition being paid to me today, and later on, that I may be given an opportunity to spend my last moments quietly to meditate on, and look forward to, my eventual exit from this life, and to that grand and glorious reward that awaits me and all who remain faithful and true to God, our Father.

I offer my heartfelt thanks and love to all.
May the Good Lord bless and keep you always.


A Message from the Youth

Submitted by Shellecia Brooks
National Youth Ambassador Corps

Happy Birthday Mr. Ronald Webster

Ronald Webster, the Father of our Nation, is undoubtedly the greatest of Anguilla’s revolutionary leaders.

I will briefly examine five characteristics of Mr. Webster which enabled him to achieve such a feat. I will then look at how young people (that is me and you, this present and future generation) can emulate and utilize these characteristics to better our lives, the lives of others and contribute to Anguilla’s development.

A quote by Henry Kissinger states that ‘the task of the leader is to get his people from where they are to where they have not been. Real leadership skill involves getting people to do something they have never done or are not even sure is possible.

Ronald Webster did this when he successfully brought Anguilla from a state of being referred to as the ‘backwater of the Caribbean’ through a complete social, economic and political metamorphosis. If we know our history, we know this was no easy task.

Mr. Ronald Webster possessed vital characteristics which made him such a successful leader. The most noteworthy of these are his faith, his vision, his determination, his charisma and the fact that he was a good shepherd.

I will deal with each characteristic in turn.

Firstly, his faith. Articles, books and quotes about Mr. Ronald Webster often compare him to the biblical character Moses and indeed like the story of Moses, Mr. Webster came and ‘delivered Anguillians out of the hands of the Kittitians. He was a man who stood by the scriptures and his faith. Memorable quotes include

‘Let the world know that Anguillians are men who place their trust in God Almighty. He goes on later to say ‘our strength is in the people of Anguilla who, by their courage will always stand as free men….Have faith in your God and your Government and we will overcome.

Secondly his vision. Mr. Webster had a vision of a better Anguilla. His primary objective and burning desire was the advancement of the wellbeing of the Anguillian people. He instilled in the minds of the people that their goals were achievable whatever the odds. He advised them ‘our battle will not be won by force but by your support under the Almighty hand of God.’ It was through this vision he was able to lead Anguillians to freedom.

Thirdly he was Determined. He had a Will of steel/unflinching resolve (often referred to as stubbornness). He never accepted a compromise. Mr. Webster stubbornly resisted any proposal which would give St. Kitts even a semblance of control over Anguilla. For example, when some Anguillian leaders signed the 1967 Barbados agreement, which would put Anguilla back under the umbrella of the St. Kitts Government, Webster refused to sign despite open threats from the British officials who were present.

Mr. Webster explained at a political meeting ‘Britain cannot bribe away the spirit of the Anguillian people with a few miles of tarmac road, a few water pipes and an airstrip.

This is a fantastic example of his leadership role of striving against difficult odds, yet remaining resolute and determined in the face of adversity during the revolution.

Fourthly, he was Charismatic. Indeed, he was revered by most. ‘He was the light of the revolution and people followed him without question. To quote Jerimiah Gumbs: ‘when Mr. Webster says act, do not question him. And the late John Thomas: ‘when Mr. Webster is wrong he is right. And when he is right, he is double right.’

Fifthly, he was a good shepherd. It was the destitute and forgotten people of Anguilla, an island once regarded as “a backwater of the Caribbean”, that he was prepared to give his life for in their liberation from the feared Bradshaw regime in St. Kitts.

All of these qualities contributed significantly to his emergence as leader of the Anguilla revolution of 1967. Mr. Webster refused to crawl when he had the vision to soar and a conviction to make the changes he wanted to see.

Walter Lippman said ‘The final test of a leader is that he leaves behind him in other men, the conviction and the will to carry on.

Today I urge everyone, particularly young people to remember the extraordinary and dramatic events of 1967 and the years that followed. Let us seek as young people to take up the mantle of leadership and emulate the characteristics that our great revolutionary leader Mr. Ronald Webster exemplified.

Have Faith

Anguilla was and remains a primarily Christian society. As we move forward, as youth we must put God first in our lives and in our country’s development. Let us continue to encourage our youth to attend church and to practice faith and the lessons taught in the bible.

Follow your Vision

Without a vision a people and a nation will perish. Young people must be included now in drafting this vision for Anguilla as we move forward in Anguilla’s development. Young people you must also have a vision for your personal life and the role you wish to play in Anguilla’s development. Always seek to make a positive difference. If you have a vision to make a positive contribution in sports, youth or community advocacy, in public service, through the ministry or as a political leader, do not let anyone belittle or undermine that vision. Like Ronald Webster, follow through with your vision regardless of what adversity you may face.

Remain Determined

Many argue that young people show little interest in anything, lose interest quickly and do not follow through on action and initiatives. The youth of Anguilla have so much promise, so much knowledge and so much creativity and talent. Let us, like Mr. Webster show determination and unflinching resolve in our initiatives. If we would like to see youth representatives on all public and private boards let us fight for that. If we would like to see the creation of more youth friendly spaces and parks, let us fight for that. We must stand firm and resolute and indeed have a will of steel to ensure the youth voice is heard.

Youth must also demonstrate determination in the pursuit of our education and our goals. Remember success requires hard work and commitment.

Display Charisma

There are some young persons who have a natural charisma. That is, others are drawn to them and others look to them for leadership and advice – thus they are able to influence many. Sometimes after observing young people, I pull a young person aside and say ‘you are a natural leader’ – use those leadership qualities for good and not evil. Like Mr. Webster, use the skill of charisma to improve Anguilla in some way.

A Good Shepherd

There are also some youth who are good shepherds. John Quincy Adams said ‘If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more - you are a leader. Indeed he could have also said you are a good shepherd. Many of us will find ourselves in leadership positions. This role may be in youth organizations in our schools, churches, NGO’s or in the public or private sector. The important thing to remember is to be humble and to always put the needs of those who you have been entrusted to lead first. If we all did this, youth and adults alike we would certainly create a better Anguilla.

In conclusion, youth of Anguilla, we should never forget the role played by Mr. Ronald Webster in Anguilla’s development. We should also never forget the unity displayed by the Anguillian people as they stood resolute for a better future. Faith, vision and determination and a genuine love for Anguilla must be the foundation on which youth will continue to build to ensure continued positive development for Anguilla. The present and future generations of Anguillians must and will continue to take Anguilla forward.

Thank you Mr. Webster for laying such a strong foundation for Anguilla’s Youth. Happy Birthday and We love you.

Cayman Islands Constitutional Commission Opens New Website


Official Statement
Constitutional Commission Press Briefing 2011

Launch of Constitutional Commission website

Thank you for attending today’s press briefing.

A primary function of the Constitutional Commission is to promote understanding and awareness of the Constitution and its values and to publish reports, discussion and information papers and other documents on constitutional matters affecting the Cayman Islands.

Today we are pleased to announce the official launch of the Commission’s new website http://www.knowyourconstitution.ky/. This new website will serve as an important, interactive resource tool for residents and visitors offering educational materials for teachers, downloadable copies of the Constitution, and discussion papers on constitutional matters and legislation submitted by our legislators, citizens and organisations.

The website includes several key sections:

• A Learning Centre for everyone who wants to know more about the Constitution. It includes information on government, the constitutional negotiations and national celebrations. It also features some work by our next generation of civic leaders. The section provides links to websites for the other United Kingdom Overseas Territories constitutions and allows teachers to post school projects and lesson plans.

• The Constitution belongs to the people of the Cayman Islands so it is critical that every citizen understands and protects its provisions. The only way our citizens can carry out this important responsibility is to get involved and to learn the constitution. The Get Involved section provides visitors with networking links to other constitutional institutions, the Governor’s office, Cabinet Office, Legislative Assembly, Judicial
Administration, Cayman Islands Government, local non-governmental organizations and regional and international institutions. We invite the public to visit this section and to share your ideas, concerns and questions with us.

• The Commission supports open and transparent public discussions so that everyone in the community is aware of our work. The Publications link allows the public to read and print copies of all of our reports, minutes of our meetings and laws.

• The Media section lists news items and multi-media reports that have either been produced by the Commission or the printed or electronic media. Videos will be posted regularly so that the public can view important events relating to the Constitution and good governance.

• The Galleries section includes pictures of events involving the Commission including the historic signing of the new Constitutional order and the Governor’s Reception to mark Constitution Day in July 2010.

• For persons seeking answers to key questions, we have developed an easy to read Frequently Asked Questions section. The Commission plans to continue to expand this section so that we can add any question that would make it easier for everyone to learn the provisions of the Constitution.

• The website also allows persons who wish to contact us to send us a message via email. We believe the website is a significant achievement towards fulfilling one of our functions to promote understanding and awareness of the Constitution. We invite all residents to visit the site regularly and to send us any feedback or questions you may have.

We would like to thank Mr. Jason Webster from the Constitutional Secretariat’s office and the hard working team at GIS Marketing and Communications, specifically Cornelia Olivier who designed the site. We would also wish to acknowledge the individuals and organisations that have submitted documents for posting to the site. It is this level of support and interaction that we encourage so that we can continue to keep constitutional issues at the forefront of the national dialogue.

In closing, the next phase of the Commission’s work now moves to the district level. We are planning to hold a series of district meetings in partnership with the elected district representatives beginning in April. These public meetings and discussions will allow us to meet residents and to explain our work and to answer any questions about constitutional matters. The dates and locations for the meetings will be released shortly once all of plans have been finalized.

We thank you for attending today’s press briefing and we are now available to respond to any questions you may have at this time.

17 March 2011

ACLU Asks Justice Department To Intervene In Serious Human Rights Abuses In Puerto Rico


Letter Cites Allegations Of Extreme Police Misconduct And Suppression Of Free Speech

CONTACT: (212) 549-2666; media@aclu.org

WASHINGTON – The American Civil Liberties Union sent a letter to the Department of Justice (DOJ) today urging it to intervene in serious human rights and civil liberties abuses reported to be occurring against the people of Puerto Rico at the hands of the territory’s government. The ACLU asked that DOJ conclude its ongoing investigation of allegations of serious incidents of police violence and the suppression of free expression – including numerous reports of violent attacks against peaceful protesters and racially motivated police abuse – and take action to end these egregious practices.

“At a time when our nation is riveted by the power of peaceful demonstrations and their importance to our democracy, the horrific abuses reported to be taking place in Puerto Rico have flown too far under the radar,” said Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union. “It is nothing short of shocking to think that these breathtaking incidents could occur unchecked in America, and any abuses must be stopped.”

According to the letter signed by Romero, police abuse has escalated and free expression has been under threat since Gov. Luis Fortuño came into power two years ago. University students at peaceful protests have been subjected to violent attacks and arrest, while female students have been inappropriately touched by police officers during the protests. Government proceedings have been closed to the public and protesters at the legislature have been pepper sprayed, beaten and shot at by police. Tens of thousands of workers have been fired and their criticism of government policies repressed.

The ACLU’s letter, addressed to Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez, details many examples of allegations of police abuse and speech suppression, including:

• violence against student protesters, with students being beaten, maced, shot at with rubber bullets and sexually assaulted by police;

• violence against protesters on the steps of the legislature after government proceedings were closed to the public;

• racially-motivated beatings of members of minority communities by police officers;

• the execution of a man lying on the ground following an argument with a police officer over a traffic violation;

• the unsolved murder of a man of African-Puerto Rican descent, suspected to be an extrajudicial killing by police officers;

• the fabrication of drug-related charges against over 100 residents of a housing project in the city of Mayaguez;

• the violent and inhumane eviction of members of the Villas del Sol squatter community, including the denial of fresh water to the community for eight months;

• numerous incidents of abuse of the homeless by police officers; and

• the de-certification of the Puerto Rico Bar Association and legal action against bar members designed to stifle political dissent.

The letter concludes: “[T]hese allegations raise troubling questions about the Puerto Rican government’s commitment to the human rights of its citizens and the First Amendment’s protections of freedom of assembly, expression and the right to petition the government. We hope that DOJ will soon conclude its investigation and intervene into these unconstitutional practices.”

The letter called on the Civil Rights Division of the DOJ to release a report of its findings.

The full text of the letter to the Department of Justice can be found below:

March 10, 2011
Mr. Thomas E. Perez
Assistant Attorney General
Civil Rights Division
United States Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530-0001

Re: DOJ Investigation into allegations of abuses by the Puerto Rico Police Department

Dear Assistant Attorney General Perez:

As you know, beginning around May 2008, the ACLU of Puerto Rico began reporting allegations of a pattern and practice of violent police misconduct against the citizens of Puerto Rico to the Department of Justice. These incidents have increased both in their frequency and intensity and other recent actions also raise troubling questions about the Puerto Rican government’s commitment to First Amendment protections. We are writing today to urge you to bring your team’s investigation to a close and issue your report and findings. We hope that DOJ will soon be able to intervene and provide some remedies to help end the Puerto Rico Police Department’s abuse against the Puerto Rican people.

While we understand you have been briefed on this investigation, for background purposes, a few of the allegations of abuses bear repeating:

• Villa Cañona:

Between 2007 and 2008, residents of Villa Cañona, in the town of Loiza, Puerto Rico, an African-Puerto Rican community dating back hundreds of years, were victims of police aggression, which were, in part, racially motivated. Residents became prisoners of their own community. The ACLU denounced the ongoing abuses, while taking on the case of Evelyn Rivera, a single parent of two minors, one of whom is afflicted by severe brain damage. This Villa Cañona family was a victim of abuse on three different occasions.

• Miguel Caceres case:

In October 2007, a police officer executed a man in the town of Humacao, Puerto Rico, during an argument between Caceres and the police officer over a traffic violation. Caceres was shot four times to the back in broad daylight while he lay on the sidewalk. Many citizens looked on and the incident was filmed.

• Jorge Polaco de Jesús case:

Also in October 2007, police officers shot to death a young 26 year old man of African-Puerto Rican descent; a resident of Carolina, Puerto Rico. The precinct involved is the very same implicated in the Villa Cañona community abuses. Mr. Polaco was taken away by the officers, allegedly to get the young man immediate assistance at a hospital located five minutes away. He arrived at the hospital DOA one and a half hours later, with 7 bullet wounds to the back and one bullet to the front left shoulder. The circumstances of Jorge Polaco’s death suggest an extrajudicial execution, but no official local or federal investigation has been conducted, despite ongoing requests. One of the two officers was transferred and has very recently been implicated in the coma-inducing beating of another citizen. The second officer left the jurisdiction within a month and is now an officer in a southern state.

• Mayaguez false prosecution cases:

In 2007, a group of police officers were found to have fabricated drug-related charges against many residents of a housing project in the City of Mayaguez, Puerto Rico. While an FBI sting put several of these officers behind bars, the practice continues. It is believed that over 100 citizens are still behind bars as a result of these fabricated cases.

• Dominican Community claims of police abuse (known incidents 2008 through the present):

Dominican leaders, the ACLU, and other civil rights advocates, have for many years denounced incidents of extreme police abuse motivated by national origin and racial profiling in several locations known to be predominantly Dominican communities, specifically in the Santurce sector of San Juan, Puerto Rico.

• Villas del Sol Community human rights abuses (2009 – 2010):

The government attempted to forcefully evict the residents of Villas del Sol, a squatter community comprised mostly of indigent families of Dominican origin. Police officers violently attacked members of the community, which mainly consisted of female heads of households and children, beating them, using pepper spray, tasers and in some cases tossing the women over concrete barriers. The water was also turned off for approximately eight months, while two epidemics simultaneously afflicted Puerto Rico – the AH1N1 virus and the Dengue hemorrhagic fever. After the situation was brought to the attention of the Department of Justice and the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights, the Puerto Rican government reinstalled the community’s running water supply.

• Police abuse against the homeless population (known incidents 2008 through 2010):

The police have engaged in many incidents of abuse against the homeless community, including obstructing a federally funded needle exchange program and arresting and physically abusing its participants. Many of the homeless are beaten, maced, and later charged with possession of drug paraphernalia or violation of municipal ordinances. The ACLU has also exposed the practice of humiliating the homeless, stripping them naked, and taking them out of town, sometimes in unmarked cars, and dropping them off at random locations.

In addition, since Governor Luis Fortuño came into power two years ago, police abuse has escalated and now free expression is under great threat. We have reported that university students at a peaceful protest have been subjected to violent attack and arrested by the hundreds, while female students have been inappropriately touched by police officers. Government proceedings were closed to the public and protestors at the legislature have been pepper sprayed, beaten and shot at by police. Tens of thousands of workers have been fired and their criticism of government policies repressed, while the legislature and federal courts suppress lawyers’ rights to speak out against their government. Specifically, the following are some of the most recent allegations of events:

• Puerto Rico’s Governor Luis Fortuño has made the troubling statement that he will not allow protests and expression from what he calls the “extreme left.” In what seems to be enforcement of an anti-First Amendment policy by the university’s Chancellor, massive police forces have been deployed at the University of Puerto Rico to suppress student protests over fee hikes.

• Starting in the summer of 2010, students of the University of Puerto Rico have been involved in a strike in opposition to an enrollment fee imposed by the UPR administration, after massive administration cuts to the university’s budget. In order to quash the peaceful protests, the government of Puerto Rico activated the Riot Squad Unit, who joined the elite SWAT unit on several occasions, resorting to extreme police brutality against protesters. Students have been mercilessly beaten, maced with pepper spray, and shot at with rubber bullets. Police have also applied torture techniques on immobilized student protesters, including the illegal use of nightsticks to provoke serious and permanent injuries, and the application of pressure in the neck, eye and jaw of the protesters to provoke pain and cause unconsciousness. At most events young women are the first to be targeted for police violence and have also been sexually harassed, groped and touched by police.

• At the University of Puerto Rico all forms of expression have been prohibited, through a Resolution issued by UPR Chancellor Ana Guadalupe; a resolution which Governor Luis Fortuño ordered armed police officers to enforce. The resolution, which was to be in force for a period of 30 days, has since been extended twice and is still in effect. On February 9, 2011, a group of students participated in civil disobedience on campus, consisting of a paint-in. During the paint-in, students peacefully and without interrupting the educational process, painted messages of protest in a limited area of the street at the front of the main library, in defiance of the Chancellor’s absolute prohibition on any form of protest. Students immediately came under extremely violent attack by members of the police force’s heavily armed SWAT and Riot Squad teams.

• On June 25, 2010, the President of the Puerto Rico Senate cut off public access to legislative sessions, even though it is constitutionally mandated that all sessions are open to the public. On June 30, 2010, at a protest at the steps of the Capital Building over the closing of access to legislative sessions, protesters were beaten, pepper sprayed, and shot at by the Puerto Rico police. A member of the legislature’s minority party was beaten and her arm broken as she was trying to enter the session; while many other young women were beaten. In one case, a mother who attempted to shield her young daughter from physical abuse was also beaten and dragged.

• In another troubling development, the Puerto Rico Bar Association, an organization viewed as a forum for dissent against the government, was recently de-certified through legislation, which the governor signed into law. In addition, some Bar Association members, with close ties to the majority party, filed what has been described as a “politically motivated” class action against the Puerto Rico Bar Association. Although a court order prohibited the president of the Bar informing lawyers that they could opt-out of the lawsuit, which could destroy this 171 year old institution, he did so anyway, and was thrown in jail by the federal judge hearing the case. He stayed in jail for four days until poor health forced him to pay a $10,000 fine so he could be released for medical treatment.

• In addition to the debacle and related violence at the University of Puerto Rico, in the past two years, legislation has been passed that would prohibit protests at construction sites, at any government building that renders educational services, and other locations rendering government services, under penalty of criminal prosecution.

Clearly, these allegations raise troubling questions about the Puerto Rican government’s commitment to the human rights of its citizens and the First Amendment’s protections of freedom of assembly, expression and the right to petition the government. We hope that DOJ will soon conclude its investigation and intervene into these unconstitutional practices.

Thank you for your consideration. We hope to hear from you and your investigation team soon. Please feel free to contact me if you need any further information.

Anthony D. Romero
Executive Director