Civil rights experts at Guam decolonization conference

Posted on Aug 19 2019


HAGÅTÑA, Guam—Experts from around the Pacific and Caribbean will be in Guam next month for a conference that will focus on decolonization and human rights.

The special international conference, “Fanhita: Our Continuing Quests for Decolonization,” will bring together a wide array of civil rights pioneers, from elected officials to scholars to community activists—from Australia, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, American Samoa, the CNMI, Palau, and West Papua—to share the experiences of their community or territory in seeking self-determination or decolonization with the hopes of increasing local awareness and building a broader network of solidarity.

Among the presenters are former CNMI representative Felicidad Ogumoro and former Palau president Johnson Toribiong.

Other invited presenters Lt. Gov. Tregenza Roach of the U.S. Virgin Islands; Rex Rumakiek, secretary of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua; Sandra Creamer, chief executive officer of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women’s Alliance; Carlyle Corbin, former minister of State for External Affairs of the U.S. Virgin Islands; Mililani Trask, founder of Na Koa Ikaika o Ka Lāhui Hawaiʻi; Dan Aga, former director of the American Samoa Government Office on Political Status, Constitutional Review and Federal Relations; Leland Bettis, former director of the Guam Commission on Self-Determination; and Wilma Reveron-Collazo, Puerto Rican human rights lawyer.

“These are individuals who have made a profound impact in their respective communities on issues of human rights and decolonization. Like Guam, they come from nations that are colonized or have been colonized, and as our island continues its quest for self- determination, we hope this conference will generate a deeper interest and understanding of this process,” said Melvin Won Pat-Borja, executive director of the Guam Commission on Decolonization.

In collaboration with the University of Guam, the Commission on Decolonization will host the Fanhita conference on Sept. 12 and 13 at the Sheraton Laguna Guam Resort. It will be open the public; however, those interested in attending must register with the Commission on Decolonization.

“This will be a great opportunity for our people to learn from a very diverse and influential panel. We are reaching a critical moment in our history,” Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero said. “It’s imperative that we have a solid foundation as we move forward because what we do next will define our future.”

Panel presentations will focus on the following topics:

1) Solidarity between U.S. territories.

2) Decolonization and indigenous peoples

3) Davis v Guam case

4) Micronesian and wider Pacific allies

5) U.S. federal negotiations

The conference will be broadcast live on PBS Guam and recorded for rebroadcast.

This conference is made possible through funds provided by the U.S. Department of the Interior for increasing public education in Guam about self-determination and possible future political status options. It is also supported by local Guam government funds, and made possible through collaboration with the University of Guam and the three political status task forces: Statehood, Free Association, and Independence.

The co-chairs for the conference are Dr. Michael Lujan Bevacqua, assistant professor of Chamorro Studies at the University of Guam, and John Reyes, vice president of Business Intelligence at the Bank of Guam and member of the Commission on Decolonization.

For those interested in attending the conference, email or contact the Office of the Commission on Decolonization at 475-9545. Seating is limited. (PR)

Press Release
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