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World Nations Condemn Great Britain’s Direct Rule Over Turks and Caicos Islands

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The world is still only receiving trickled news of the British take-over of Turks and Caicos Islands in the Caribbean, though it commenced on August 14, 2009. The British take-over was executed under the authority of Great Britain’s Commission of Enquiry report, concluding that the earlier government of Michael Misick bred a climate of fear among its citizens.

Many countries around the world have condemned Britain’s actions citing their discontent with colonialism. Prior to August 14, 2009, Turks and Caicos Islands had its own constitution and government which is now “suspended,” for what Great Britain says will be a period of at least two years.

What makes this a sensitive subject is not necessarily that Great Britain seized the government of Turks and Caicos, alleging corruption by then Premiere Misick, but that a newly elected government had been installed since March, following Misick’s resignation. Galmo Williams had been the newly elected Premiere for five months prior to Britain’s take-over. By all accounts, world governments found Great Britain’s move to be excessive and improper.

The United Nations’ Special Committee for Decolonisation has released its report dated September 23, 2009, entitled: Report of the Special Committee on the Situation with regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples for 2009. In the report, section X (4), the United Nations addresses Turks and Caicos Islands’ direct rule by Great Britain and specifically calls for, “restoration of constitutional arrangements providing for representative democracy through elected territorial Government as soon as possible.”

On October 6, 2009, The United Nations published its declaration with respect to eradicating colonialism, “Eradication Colonialism Requires Fresh, Concrete, Creative Impetus.” This document affirms the United Nations “Second International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism (2001-2010).”

Generally, The United Nations condemns colonialism by Great Britain and it has made several resolutions and declarations to that end. But it has also specifically addressed the British take over of the Turks and Caicos Islands of August 14, 2009, as improper.

Furthermore, a team of international attorneys working on behalf of Turks and Caicos argued to The United Nations that the suspension of Turks and Caicos’ constitution, “contravenes European Union law.”

Among the most outspoken of Great Britain’s critics in this regard is CARICOM, a multi-nation Caribbean governmental body whose mission is to “provide dynamic leadership and service, in partnership with Community institutions and Groups, toward the attainment of a viable, internationally competitive and sustainable Community…” CARICOM is said to be a type of United Nations of the Caribbean.

After CARICOM’s summit in Guyana, CARICOM announced once again that it is “deeply disturbed” by Great Britain’s decision to suspend Turks and Caicos Island’s constitution.

In a statement following the summit, CARICOM announced its condemnation of Great Britain’s “…rejection…of the new Premier.” and expressed its favor, “to allow the people of TCI to elect a new government which could have adopted and implemented the measures required to improve the administration of the territory and strengthen integrity in public life was, regrettably, a lost opportunity.”

Many Turks and Caicos Islanders are asking questions as well. What will happen during this two year period of governance by Great Britain? What will happen at the end of the two-year period? Why has Great Britain suspended its citizens’ right to a jury trial? Governor Gordon Wetherell, now in charge of the islands’ government, has been quoted as follows, “The constitutional right to trial by jury is also suspended with immediate effect. In accordance with the Order in Council, this will be for a period of two years, subject to extension or abbreviation as necessary.”

It has also been reported that another Caribbean nation, St Lucia through its Foreign Affairs Minister Rufus Bousquet, has recently announced that it joins CARICOM’s “profound concern” with Great Britain’s decision to dissolve self-governance and independence as to Turks and Caicos Islands.

With so many international communities weighing in on the controversy of Great Britain’s direct rule over Turks and Caicos, why is Great Britain still installed on the island territory? Governor Wetherell dismissed claims that the British government control is a take-over of Turks and Caicos or colonialism.

However, simple cursory reviews expose the standard of colonialism or imperialism. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy defines colonialism as “political and economic control over a dependent territory.” It further defines post-modern colonialism as a foreign entity governing that is not of the same culture or history of the territory.

It is not yet clear what position Great Britain will take in light of the world community’s views on its takeover of the Turks and Caicos government. However, the citizens of Turks and Caicos are sure to demand an answer as to Great Britain’s intentions. Great Britain will undoubtedly be taken to task if the world community has a say.

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About CBurke

  • You do know the saying, don’t you? “Britain waives the rules.” The islanders on the Turks and Caicos Islands are only the latest to suffer from British duplicity.

    Why they indulge in this is beyond me. One would have thought that screwing up India-Pakistan-Burma, Cyprus, Guyana, Iraq, the Land of Israel, Ireland, Fiji, Ghana, Nigeria and a slew of other nations would have been enough for them, but I guess not.

  • R.F.Houseman

    Much of what the UK Government is doing now could have been done with the Parliament in tack. But to take away the rights of a growing country for a few corrupt politicians was NOT the right thing to do. Democracy should alway rule not matter what.

  • Belonger

    As a citizen of this British overseas territory, I’m wondering why they took so long? A country should be able to correct it’s territory.

  • Jessup

    Belonger: you speak for a very few Belongers of TCI. Hypocrits are the British. They cannot clean up their own … Only a very few amount of people believe that cleaning up a corrupt few means having Great Britain take over and take away our self government, jury trials and other benefits for TCIslanders. Maybe just a few believe as “Belonger” does, and maybe this only includes some of his “anonymous” friends.

  • Jimmy

    How is Cem these days?

  • friend of the Turks

    Turks and Caicos are a British Colony. The British are trying to do the right thing. The investors in the Turks economy trusted that if anything went wrong on the Turks the British would step in and help fix it. Things went badly wrong and the British have stepped in to fix it.
    Just relax they’ll be gone soon enough and the Turks can again be run by local inhabitants. Hopefully this time under a better constitution that protects them from crooks like former premier Michael Misick.

  • Brenton

    THE Brits can not fix anything in TURKS AN CAICOS, the locals has to do it. The Governor now don’t know what he suppose to do and is a misfit in our country. The remove the corrupt politicans don’t need the suspending of our constitution. A BLIND MAN CAN SEE THAT, THEY JUST WANT TO STOP THE PROGRESS OF THE LOCALS, BUT ITS TOO LATE…The people just need to unite as one and hold the governor for every single problem in the country……HE NEEDS TO LEAVE, HE’S JUST AS BACKWARDS.

  • James (not Jimmy)

    What should happen is that UK should hold elections immediately. Uk does not share our culture nor our values. The “people” who proudly claim responsibility and acceptance of UK’s presence are misguided. Best to see what Islanders really want, not just a couple of clowns. They are not smarter than everyone else just because they are louder.

  • This article is part nonsense, part cliche.

    Read this article for the facts about decolonisation.

  • James

    So citing legit sources such as UN documents and CARICOM is cliche and nonsense? Since when Larry? Do your homework. Do you understand what cliche means? Citing facts is the opposite of cliche.

  • James

    ahhh…. Larry Smith is the author of his suggested reading. Seems that his article is a bit less straight — try a lot of personal opinion.

  • James

    One thing wrong with your theory Larrry. You failed to mentioned the billions of dollars raked in by tourism in TCI, not to mention off-shore banking. Speacialising in the scuba niche, it has a distinct tourism draw. To say that Britain wanted to unload Turks and Caicos? How archaic your research sir. You failed your readers terribly by missing the point. TCIslanders enjoyed many benefits of tourism and tourism dollars. How could you have missed that?

  • Jimmy

    Excellent piece Larry, far better then Burke’s nonsense for anyone who wants to get a good grounding on the story.

  • James (not Jimmy)

    Sure Larry’s piece will take you way back. This 2009 people. Part of the reason that colonialism is condemended is because a foreign entity should not lord over a different culture. This is a basic right and commonsense. That’s why the world disagrees with Larry and Jimmy.

  • STM

    RF Houseman: “Democracy should alway rule not matter what.”

    Yeah, that’s right TF. Look at Nazi Germany, or Grenada. This isn’t about decolonisation, democracy, colonialism – or as everyone well knows, the British refusing to let go.

    It’s about rule of law being set up properly so that T&C islanders can then have a stable democracy free of corruption and the stink of cronyism.

    Here’s my bet: most of the average, ordinary folks in the Turks and Caicos islands will be very happy to see the British back in this situation. The problem IS corruption: the Poms are hoping to have that clreaned up first, and they’re not doing it for themselves … they’re doing it for the T&C islanders whoa) have no real political power because to take on corrupt politicians feathering their own nests and b) because they TRULY believe that if rule of law is properly established, Turks and Caicos islanders will be able to live in stability and democracy and in a political environment free of corruption.

    I’d bet, too, that any US citizens commenting on here would be pretty quick to back the US invasion of Grenada some years back.

    At least this is about butter (or tourism dollars, more accurately), not guns.

    Also, who cares what the UN thinks. No one in the US gives a damn about them.

    Most countries belonging to the UN are struggling to run themselves, let alone comment on anyone else’s issues.

  • Friend of the Turks.

    STM is right.

    The problem in small countries is the lack of a strong opposition. Whoever is in power has too much power.

    When the Misick government approved things that the law did not allow there was not the strong opposition you find in larger countries to stop him. Everyone in the Turks is dependent on the government in some way. No one in the Turks could afford to stand up to the Misick government for fear of losing their jobs, or their government contracts, or approval of their next building project.

    You need Britain. Or alternatively become part of some other larger community with a stronger opposition that can keep the government of the day honest.

    If you don’t like the British – how about becoming part of the Bahamas?

  • Ligedua

    As an investor of property in the TCI it is troubling to see what has happened…corruption and then take over with the hopes of a clean-up???…now what can we expect? how many more years before we see our investment being able to pay dividends?

  • To Ligedua

    I think that most everyone’s goal is to make all of the investors and developers feel safe investing in Turks and Caicos. TCI is so very supportive of our tourism economy. We want certainty and we dislike anyone trying to put the message out as you have just questioned.

  • STM

    Ligedua: Your investment will be safer while the British are there. It will also be safe once they establish transparent rule of law and help establish a government that is free of corruption (or at least only suffers, like most western governments, minimal corruption).

    This is for the people of TCI amd for those who’ve put money into the place, not for some misguided attempt at re-colonisation.

  • STM

    Besides, I can’t see what the issue is in regard to being a self-governing sovereign entity that is also still part of one of the greatest free democracies the world has ever seen (despite the view of Ruvy, and some of their great past mistakes, which they’ve gone to great lengths to atone for). No, I’m not talking about America … that would be Britain.

    If the Turks are administered properly by their own people, they have everything to gain by the British returning, and nothing to lose except a government that was getting on the nose of the people it was supposed to represent.

  • STM

    And since when did Britain not have jury trials, Jessup???

    They invented the bloody things.

  • Jessup

    I would expect someone who is commenting would know that UK suspended jury trials in Turks and Caicos. You didn’t know STM. It’s public information.

  • STM

    Ah, not done away with at all Jessup … the right to jury trial is suspended, which provides simply for trial by judge alone in certain cases. Not all cases is my understanding.

    You know what those might be, and you know as well as I do the reason why.

    And to be reintroduced or extended earlier or later than the two-year period as is thought necessary.

    At least the judiciary is independent.

    Unfortunately, where there is the smell of cronyism and corruption, especially in a small country where a small group of certain people might wield most of the power and influence and money, juries are not always independent.

    Or if they start out that way, don’t always remain so.

    It’s worth noting here what this whole is about: a series of property development scandals in which some people were intent on lining their own pockets ultimately at the expense of the islanders.

    Work the rest out for yourself if you’re looking for a reason.

    As for geting the islands back on their feet in a transparent way: The English can’t always play cricket that well either, but it doesn’t mean they didn’t invent it and it doesn’t mean they won’t keep going until they can field a decent team.

  • JoseMLopezSierra

    Dear Partner,

    Now that the First Oscar – Mandela March in Puerto Rico is history, we can now begin to work on making an even bigger success of The First Oscar Mandela Protest in New York City. This year’s Puerto Rican Day Parade in New York City a week before our protest will be dedicated to our political prisoner Oscar López Rivera.

    On Monday, June 23, 2014, the United Nations (UN) will be discussing again Puerto Rico’s colonial relationship with the United States. The UN is in its third decade trying to eradicate colonialism from the world, because of the belief that it constitutes a threat to world peace. Since this date is a week later than usual, our committee decided to have 2 protests this year.

    On the Monday, June 16, 2014, the day after Fathers’ Day, we will have our first protest in the park across from the UN on 46th Street and First Avenue from 8 AM to 5 PM to show the world that we too believe that colonialism is a crime against humanity. On the same day of the hearing, Monday June 23, we will have the second one. We will have a press conference in New York City to inform the public of the latest details of these event. We will need as many people at the protest as possible to make the government of the
    United States (US) comply with the 32 UN resolutions asking the US to decolonize immediately Puerto Rico. After this many resolutions, it is obvious that the US does not want to.

    President Obama recently showed the government of the United States’ hypocrisy about human rights. In his memorial ceremony speech, he had only praise for Nelson Mandela. He, however, has refused, despite the enormous pressure from Puerto Rico and the rest of the world, to release from
    prison Oscar López Rivera who is doing exactly what Mandela did. Oscar has already spent 6 more years in prison than the 27 that Mandela served. The US is happy when other countries decolonize their colonies, but the US wants to keep hers. What kind of
    democracy is this? Obviously, those who have colonies don’t believe in justice for all.

    Please tell your friends about this important protest for Oscar López Rivera’s release from prison, and to achieve what he has spent his life on, the decolonization of Puerto Rico.

    We will have a sheet of paper so that whoever who wants to get involved in the planning of this yearly permanent event in New York City can provide us with your contact information. If you wish, you can also email me right now at jlop28vislophis@yahoo.com.

    We look forward to greeting old and new partners in our struggle to provide real justice for all!

    José M López Sierra
    Because, rights are not requested, they are demanded!