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Azerbaijan hosts Decolonization Conference in Baku

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Azerbaijan hosts Decolonization Conference in Baku

Azerbaijan recently hosted French Polynesia’s Right to Decolonization: Challenges and Perspectives” inside of the Azerbaijani Parliament together with BIG, otherwise known as the Baku Initiative Group, whose stated aim is to support “French liberation and anti-colonialist movements.”  The group’s executive director Abbas Abbasov, who met the Polynesian delegation at the sidelines of the conference, vowed “continued support of the fair struggle of peoples seeking liberation from colonialism.”  

“We are isolated today due to the colonial policy of France,” the party’s secretary general, Victor Maamaatuaiahutapu, told the conference.  “Politically, we are a young nation, and we need Azerbaijan’s support,” he added. “France seeks to isolate us because it wants to continue nuclear tests on our territory.”  Huseynly said the “imperfection of international legal mechanisms hampers the liberation of French colonies”.

MP Zahid Oruj, Chairman of the Human Rights Committee of the Azerbaijani Milli Majlis (Parliament), highlighted that BIG, established on July 6, 2023, in Baku, marks the beginning of a new wave against exploitation that has affected regions including the Caribbean, South America, and the Indian and Pacific Oceans for over 150 years.

“We believe that this movement will be successful and will finally give the oppressed peoples the freedom they deserve. By ending the 44-day war with victory, we have become a shining, unparalleled example for oppressed peoples around the world. The brilliant victory of Azerbaijan plays an important role in the revival of the Polynesian movement for independence. Neo-colonialism is doomed,” he declared.

Azerbaijani MP Nizami Safarov highlighted that the decolonization discourse is far from over for many regions of the world: “French Polynesia remains a stark example, with the French government only establishing a compensation commission for nuclear testing in 2010. Despite the devastating impact of these tests, including increased radiation-related illnesses, French President Emmanuel Macron has yet to issue an official apology.”    

The Central Committee of the World Council of Churches (WCC) concurs with Azerbaijan that French Polynesia should be liberated from French colonialism.  A public statement adopted by the Central Committee calls on French authorities “to fulfil their obligations and provide all necessary means for the economic, social and cultural development of the Maohi people” and “urges France to compensate all those affected by nuclear testing and radioactivity” in the vicinity.  It also invites Christians everywhere to pray “for the people and the churches of Maohi Nui as they embark on their peaceful and just struggle for self-determination.”

In 2013, the UN General Assembly voted to add French Polynesia to its list of territories that should be decolonized, affirming the right of the islands’ inhabitants to “self-determination and independence”. French Polynesia joined 16 other territories on the decolonization list, including the British-ruled Falkland Islands and the US Virgin Islands. The UN resolution called on the French government to “facilitate rapid progress” towards self-determination. It was passed by consensus in the 193-member UN assembly.


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