Pacific Islanders call for justice on climate and human rights

Many strong voices from Pacific, Melanesian, New Zealand and Australian civil society met in Cairns, North Queensland to raise concerns on climate change and human rights that are affected communities across the Pacific region.

MEDIA RELEASE

Pacific Islanders call for justice on climate and human rights

Wednesday 5 August 2009

Many strong voices from Pacific, Melanesian, New Zealand and Australian civil society met in Cairns, North Queensland to raise concerns on climate change and human rights that are affected communities across the Pacific region.

The group is calling for immediate greenhouse gas emissions cuts to ensure that people across the Pacific can remain on their islands and ensuring ongoing cultural identity that is intimately tied to land.

Throughout civil society in the Pacific, there is recognition of the linkages between climate change and self-determination: The right to determine your own future and that of your land. Ultimately this is a question of survival.

Reverend Tafue Molu Lusama from Tuvalu said “We do not want to loose our identity, and our identity is strongly tied down to our land. Loosing our land literally means our death as a 'distinct' people on the face of this planet. You do not want to be responsible for that, so act urgently to avoid that happening.”

Pelenise Alofa Pilitati from Kiribati says “To Australia and New Zealand, please show me that you are strong caring big brother in the Pacific! Save the Pacific Islands by cutting the carbon emission.”

Mikaele Maiava, Pacific Youth Warrior from Tokelau said, “My dream is to live a safe, healthy and happier world. A healthy environment is the key to this. WE are responsible to ensure that our children and generation to come live in that world. The industrial world should realise that if they do not cut their emission, our world would be in an unhealthy and unhappy situation. Who would like to live in a world like that? Definitely not me.”

Paula Makabory, West Papua human rights campaigner said, “Recognising the importance of primary forests to the global community, we are concerned about the threat to West Papuan forests by large scale planned oil palm plantations and illegal logging and mining. We call on the Pacific Island Forum countries to raise our concerns about the threat to West Papua forests with the Indonesian government and impose a moratorium on all logging, proposed plantations and carbon trading.”

For interviews:

Pelenise Alofa Pilitati (I-Kiribati) mobile 0451 174509

Reverend Tafue Molu Lusama (Tuvalu) mobile 0400 540 704

Mikaele Maiava (Tokelau) mobile +685 7273269 (Samoa number)

Paula Makabory (West Papua) mobile 0402547517

Marstella Jack (Federated States of Micronesia) mobile 0405 025 250

For more information:

Maria Tiimon, Pacific Calling Partnership 0424 700 499

Notes

This civil society meeting coincides with the fortieth meeting of the Pacific Island Forum and demands that Pacific Leaders endorse the following calls:

    * Australia and New Zealand commit to emissions reduction cuts of at least 45% on 1990 levels by 2020
    * Australia and New Zealand commit to sufficient funding for adaptation IN ADDITION to overseas development aid, that is delivered at the grassroots level
    * Recognise that technology transfer to mitigate and adapt to climate change is a human right to ensure the survival of all Pacific peoples
    * To act on all of the concerns with regard to human rights abuses in West Papua, as agreed at the 37th Forum meeting held in Fiji in 2006:

“Leaders welcomed the establishment by the sovereign authority, Indonesia, of the Papuan Peoples Assembly (MRP) and the moves towards the full implementation of the 2001 special autonomy law and the development of Papua. Leaders expressed concern about reports of violence in Papua and called on all parties to protect and uphold the human rights of all residents in Papua and to work to address the root causes of such conflicts by peaceful means. They also urged the Indonesian authorities to bring to justice the perpetrators of serious crimes in the Province of Papua.”

This statement is endorsed by Pacific Calling Partnership, Cairns and Far North Environment Council, Friends of the Earth Australia, Australia West Papua Association, CAN Pacific, Pacific Conference of Churches, West Papua National Coalition for Liberation, Kiribati Australia Association.