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ABC RADIO AUSTRALIA Updated April 19, 2010 09:04:31
The Taiwan-based Robin Hood International Human Rights Legal Defense Fund is raising funds for an appeal against last year's decision opposing the U-S federalisation of the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands (CNMI) immigration system. This new suit is claiming that the CNMI and its indigenous people were subjected to genocide by the political agreement between the US and the CNMI known as the covenant. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the National Chamorro Association of the Mariana Islands and the native Chamorros and Carolinians. There's a also a second suit filed by the group with the United Nations' International Court of Justice.
Presenter: Geraldine Coutts
Speaker: Glenn Manglona, President, National Chamorro Association of the Mariana Islands
MANGLONA: My group is made up of the indigenous Chamorros and what we felt was proper to file a lawsuit on behalf of our group through this Robin Hood International Legal Defence fund. Well, here's the situation: we're looking at the Convenant provision and we felt that the US did not disclose that after World War Two the people of the Northern Marianas Islands were wards of the war by conquest. And we are US nationals and we felt that the US negotiators did not disclose that to our forebearers and manoeuvred the CNMI negotiators to enter into a Convenant which we felt that the US Congress did not have an authority to enter because in the US constitution there is a process to allow a delegate to sit in the US Congress.
COUTTS: Well can I just say that the Governor of CNMI disagrees. He says that the Covenant was for the good of all and it was the right thing to do at that time?
MANGLONA: Well we're looking beyond the Covenant, and by the Covenant it actually they misled our negotiators here that it's better for us to be US citizen. We are already a US national, right after the war, but they did not disclose that to our negotiators.
COUTTS: Okay Mr Manglona, can we actually get to the details of the suit. You are using the word genocide, so how many people died, according to your claims?
MANGLONA: Genocide does not necessarily mean that people died. They have deprived the people of the Northern Marianas with their god given indigenous right to claim their nationality as Chamorro citizens and they have misled the people here and to us that is considered genocide.
COUTTS: And so it's got nothing to do with the Japanese violations and duties as you said and the failure to protect the Chamorros and Carolinians?
MANGLONA: Yeah, they did not protect the Chamorros and Carolinian by allowing them to maintain their US national with Chamorro or Carolinian citizenship.
COUTTS: So what are you asking for in both suits? Firstly the one that you have got before the court and the other before the United Nations. So firstly, what are you actually asking for? What do you want?
MANGLONA: We want to maintain our US national and we want to maintain our Chamorro and Carolinian citizenship.
COUTTS: And so are both the suits the same and the second one the United Nations asking for the same thing in the International Court of Justice?
MANGLONA: Well, because in the Covenant, it gives us the right to have a case filed with the US court, but we felt that since the Japanese and the US are part of the United Nations, we felt that it is proper to file it with the International Court of Justice.
COUTTS: So will you be happy with dual citizenship to continue the way you are under the US protectorate and also have Carolinian and Chamorro nationhood recognised?
MANGLONA: Yes ma'am, that is what we want, because we should be entitled to all the benefits accorded to US nationals.