Monday, June 24, 2024

Colonial oppression in Kanaky

How does France deal with opponents of its colonisation of the Pacific? Arrest them and deport them to France to face prosecution in a foreign court:

A group of pro-independence leaders charged with allegedly organising protests that turned into violent unrest in New Caledonia last month was indicted on Saturday and have been transferred to mainland France where they will be held in custody pending their trial.

Christian Téin and ten others were taken by French security forces during a dawn operation in Nouméa on Wednesday 19 June.


On behalf of CCAT, Téin organised a series of marches and protests, mainly peaceful, in New Caledonia, to oppose plans by the French government to change eligibility rules for local elections, which the pro-independence movement said would further marginalise indigenous Kanak population votes.

There are strong echoes here with France's treatment of Tahitian independence leader Pouvanaa a Oopa: they charged him with arson following public protests, imprisoned him in France, and forbade him to return to his homeland. Sixty years later they finally admitted that the entire thing was a stitch up, based on fabricated evidence, and his conviction was quashed (in the interim he had been pardoned after a demand from Polynesia's pro-independence government, then elected to the French Senate). And that's how France deals with democratic dissent in its colonies: with the tactics of an oppressive colonial empire.

In Kanaky, the arrests and deportations have (predictably) led to more rioting - it turns out that people don't like their leaders being kidnapped to a foreign country. And of course its difficult to have proper negotiations when one party is arresting and jailing the people it is meant to be negotiating with. The arrests may make France feel powerful and in control. But in practice, they've made things worse. If France really wanted a peaceful solution, they wouldn't have done it.