| Feb 23, 2023
Highlighting Banaban Human Rights Struggles
Banaba Exhibit Announcement
The Banaban Working Group is contributing a case study to ICAAD's Right to Life with Dignity project to ground our understanding of relocation and the implications for cultural, national and social identity.
The forced displacement of the Banaban people because of phosphate mining in 1945 has resulted in human rights violations at many levels. The experience of the Banaban people in terms of lack of legal protections, and the protracted citizenship struggles that continue to this day, is a localized policy challenge and offers a suite of lessons for impending climate-induced displacement across the region.
To support the Banaban community, ICAAD and the Banaban Womens Organization have co-created an art exhibit that bringing the struggles of the Banaban community to the global stage, providing them with a platform to share their history and demands for action from the governments of Fiji and Kiribati to safeguard their human rights.
Through 9 March, Tamaki Makaurau Auckland’s Silo 6 exhibition space is featuring handicrafts, photos and videos from Banaban artists and storytellers that highlight their culture and history.
Local Change Maker on Rabi shared: “As the Banabans commemorate 77 years this year on Rabi, the sad reality is that nothing major has happened in terms of development to uplift this community to thrive in their new home and in their homeland, Banaba.
“This exhibit not only highlights what went wrong with the Banaban story of displacement, but more importantly how policymakers, legislators, politicians and advocates can use the story of my people to craft future policies and laws that actually work for climate-induced displaced communities of the future. For us Banabans, we have a long way to go, and this project is an important step in the right direction.”
The art exhibition allows for audiences to explore Banaban history, the impacts of mining on communities, and stories of resistance.
In order to better safeguard the human rights of Banabans, ICAAD and the Banaban community have set out a series of recommendations for the governments of Kiribati and Fiji.
- The Kiribati government must take immediate action to ensure access to basic food supplies and clean water on Banaba.
- The Fiji Office of the Prime Minister should embark on an urgent fact-finding mission to Rabi to evaluate development outcomes. This trip should also include a scoping assessment to plan an election to reinstate the Rabi Council of Leaders. This should include amendments to the Banaban Settlement Act 1970.
- Both the Kiribati and Fiji governments should extend guarantees of dual citizenship for Banabans. This has not always been the case, and this guarantee is crucial for the enjoyment of a number of human rights.
- Both the Kiribati and Fiji governments should extend support to Banabans applying for citizenship, which should include reducing the application fee and simplifying processes.
- The Fiji government should establish a Ministry for Minor Ethnic Groups with a specific budget for development assistance on Rabi, Kioa, and Rotuma.
These recommendations would begin to close the gap in human rights protections that Banabans currently face. The community is asking for the public’s help in amplifying their message by sharing their story online using the hashtag #JusticeforRabi. By providing greater visibility, the exhibit aims to provide a platform for change.