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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center

With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i


Pacific Church Leaders Support Self-Determination For Tahiti
Pacific Conference of Churches calls on Forum Leaders to do the same

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, Feb. 25, 2013) –Pacific church leaders say it's time for the region to support moves towards independence by the indigenous people of Tahiti, or Maohi Nui.

A proposal to endorse the re-inscription of Tahiti on the United Nations Decolonization Committee's list will be on the agenda at the Pacific Conference of Churches' annual general assembly in Solomon Islands this week, despite opposition from France, New Zealand and Australia.

PCC acting general secretary and Tahiti native, Reverend Francois Pihaate, told Radio Australia's Pacific Beat program that it was time Pacific Island Forum Leaders showed their support for the move.

"They should not try to 'play it safe' by dodging the real issue and trying to cover up by inscribing words of encouragement - this brushes aside the human rights struggles of the people of Maohi Nui," Reverend Pihaatae said.

"For too long Maohi Nui has been fighting for her freedom and it's time we, as a Pacific family, stand up with a united voice to offer our support."

A delegation from the World Council of Churches will visit the French-held territory in April for talks with authorities, churches and the people to listen to views on self-determination.

The council will also send a delegation to the PCC general assembly.

When the UN was founded in 1945, one of its first initiatives was to engage in a proper decolonisation process, establishing a list of territories yet to be decolonised.

French Polynesia, of which Tahiti is the economic and political centre, was included on the list.

France succeeded in having French Polynesia withdrawn from the list two years later.

The PPC proposal comes after Tuvalu, Nauru and Solomon Islands recently agreed to back a move for French Polynesia to be relisted on the UN decolonisation list.

Radio Australia: www.abc.net.au/ra
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