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Futa Helu calls for more political empowerment

9th NFIP Conference opens: Futa Helu calls for more political empowerment

The 9th Nuclear Free and Independent Pacific (NFIP) Conference was officially opened last night in the Kingdom of Tonga, jointly organized by the Human Rights and Democracy Movement in Tonga (HRDMT) and the Pacific Concerns Resource Centre.

Over a hundred delegates from around 26 countries and territories in the Pacific, together with partner organizations from Europe, gathered at the Queen Salote College for a lively opening start to the weeklong conference.

Chief guest and Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Tonga, The Honorable Noble Tu’ivakano told delegates that no issue related to the conference theme of ‘Economic Empowerment for Human Rights and Good Governance’ could be isolated.

“Peace, security, stability, freedom, human rights and poverty eradication are indivisible, interrelated and interdependent. The lack of one will affect the others,” Honorable Tui’vakano said.

“We not only need security from armed conflict, but also from hunger, sickness, unemployment and lack of freedom.”

In the keynote address, Professor Futa Helu, the Director of the ‘Atenisi Institute and the Deputy Chairman of the HRDMT, stated the need for economic empowerment to go hand in hand with political empowerment.

Professor Futa Helu said Pacific countries were talking more and more about economic development but ignoring the political empowerment of their people.

“Governments today want to stir up interest in economic empowerment rather than political changes. They don’t want to have their power eroded, or talked about or paraded before the people. Even our government here in Tonga has conducted economic reform without a political reconstruction program,” Professor Futa Helu said.

The NFIP Movement has been meeting every three years since 1975. It brings together Pacific NGOs, churches, activists, community groups and political parties working on the environment, decolonization and self-determination, peace and demilitarization, human rights, and sustainable human development.

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