NEW YORK, 06 OCTOBER 2017 (THE GUAM DAILY POST) — More than a dozen island residents testified before the United Nation’s Fourth Committee during the General Assembly in New York on Wednesday echoing the governor’s request for a visiting mission to the island and urging assistance to help with decolonising the island.
The group that included members of Prutehi Litekyan and Independent Guåhan and several lawmakers each shared their message petitioning the UN to take action and use its influence to ensure cooperation by the U.S. for genuine decolonisation.
“Decolonisation is absolutely crucial for our people and our environment,” said Tiara Naputi, who accused the U.S. military of having “no respect” for Guam’s environment and contaminating the island’s largest drinking water source.
“The U.S. Department of Defense is both the nation and world’s great polluter,” Naputi testified. “Their toxic legacy is left throughout the island and region.”
The UN has a mission to eradicate colonialism by 2020 and petitioners who appeared before the body this week requested their support for Guam and 16 other non-self-governing territories to exercise their rights to self-determination.
Melvin Won Pat-Borja said Guam is “someone’s territory.”
“As long as our island is a military asset, Guåhan will always remain a target,” Won Pat-Borja said as he and other parents have struggled to explain to their children what a nuclear attack could mean for the island.
“There is no solace in promise of more violence,” he testified.
Victoria Lola Leon Guerrero urged UN members to “keep their promise” to the people of Guam.
“This body was created to give a voice to all nations, big and small. Colonisation has stripped the people of Guåhan of our voice,” Leon Guerrero said. “Help us attain fundamental rights to be independent to protect our natural resources, to protect our homeland and live in peace and prosperity.”
The governor and members of the delegation have requested that the UN send a visiting mission to Guam to shed new light on the territory’s pursuit for self-determination.
Prutehi Litekyan has opposed the military’s proposed plans to build a live-fire training range complex on sacred land and said construction of the range would destroy natural and historic resources.
Rear Adm. Shoshana Chatfield, commander of Joint Region Marianas, recently wrote to lawmakers and said the firing ranges at Northwest Field will remove 89 acres of limestone forest and 110 acres of disturbed limestone forest, and that DOD is committed to restoring 219 acres of limestone forest to compensate for the loss of vegetation.
Samantha Barnett testified, “When land is stolen, culture is threatened and we lose the ability to tell the history of our people.”
Vice Speaker Therese Terlaje told the committee that the situation on Guam is urgent as the island’s land and ocean are increasingly under threat, and access and control of resources are being impeded by the delay in decolonisation.
The Guam lawmaker referred to the recent effort by the federal government to invalidate the Chamorro Land Trust Commission that was established for native inhabitants on island.
“It is ironic and unjust that the U.S. is allowed years of inaction on decolonization but may suddenly and unilaterally, after 40 years, attempt to dismantle a program that safeguards a homeland for the native inhabitants in its territory,” Terlaje said.
She requested that the Fourth Committee adopt a resolution demanding the immediate decolonization of Guam before any more resources are lost…PACNEWS [/restrict]