23 Aug 2013

Decolonisation trend offers hope says Hawaii independence campaigner

5:21 pm on 23 August 2013

A Hawaiian independence campaigner, Leon Siu, says French Polynesia's reinscription on the UN decolonisation list has given the movement a huge boost.

Mr Siu is among those working towards the restoration of Hawaii as an independent nation.

They say Hawaii was officially recognised as independent in 1843 and it has been illegally occupied by the US since the 1890s

Mr Siu who acts as the Minister of Foreign Affairs for the Hawaiian Kingdom says about 100,000 people in Hawaii understand there is a problem with its status and about 30,000 believe the solution is independence.

LEON SIU: As we look around the world, particularly in the 20th century, with the League of Nations and then later the United Nations, particularly the United Nations, after World War II, recognised that there were several colonial states, mostly European, and that many countries should be listed and they were listed as non-self-governing territories. And Hawaii was listed as that, as well. So the United Nations recognised that Hawaii was not part of the United States. Since 1946, since the founding of the United Nations, at the beginning of the United Nations there were 56 founding members. Today there are 193, which means that, along the way, all of these other countries have come into existence. So the trend has been, in the 20th century, to organise and to create these separate states, independent nations, on par with any other nation. So we are actually in the momentum of states being created. We're sort of the last ones to be left. As you know, French Polynesia was recently reinstate to the list of non-self-governing territories so it gives us not only great hope, but it actually gives a huge boost to our efforts, as well.

SALLY ROUND: Do you think it's more difficult for you because you are, at the moment, part of a very powerful nation?

LS: Yes and no. Actually, there have been many, many contributions by the United States towards our society as far as infrastructure and all of that. We are a modern country. On the other hand, we don't have self-determination. That is, the Hawaiian people would like to have their country back in order to govern ourselves. On the one hand, the United States has been very beneficial, but on the other hand, they still are occupying our nation unlawfully, so we are in the process of informing the world about this and trying to bring international pressure to cause the United States, who fully understands its position, by the way... They've actually admitted their wrongdoing a number of times, particularly in 1993 by issuing an apology for taking our country unlawfully.

SR: What is the importance for you of coming to this Pacific Islands Development Forum?

LS: Well, one of the things we would like to do is to reintroduce ourselves into the Pacific Islands. Because right now, and for the last 100 years, we've been represented by the United States and all of its interests. And the United States has basically forgone the interests of our people as a Pacific Island people. What we'd like to do is to re-engage with the Pacific islands like we had 100 years ago to learn and bring about a Pacific Island approach to how we can operate our society.