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New Caledonia

The Pacific Lands And Seas Are Neither Forbidden Nor Forgotten

Since May, a powerful struggle has rocked Kanaky (New Caledonia), an archipelago located in the Pacific, roughly 1,500 kilometres east of Australia. The island, one of five overseas territories in the Asia-Pacific ruled by France, has been under French colonial rule since 1853. The indigenous Kanak people initiated this cycle of protests after the French government of Emmanuel Macron extended voting rights in provincial elections to thousands of French settlers in the islands. The unrest led Macron to suspend the new rules while subjecting islanders to severe repression. In recent months, the French government has imposed a state of emergency and curfew on the islands and deployed thousands of French troops, which Macron says will remain in New Caledonia for ‘as long as necessary’.

France Losing Grip On Another Colonial Possession

Fears are growing that French security forces could remain indefinitely in New Caledonia after being sent to quell deadly violence this week over stalled moves towards full independence from France. As France loses its grip on its colonial possession following recent debacles in West Africa,  French President Emmanuel Macron flew into the Pacific Islands country on Thursday. He was seeking a political solution with local parties following the eruption of protests and violence that included gun battles, which claimed the lives of two Gendarmes (French police) and four civilians. Macron said a 3,000-strong force deployed from France would remain “as long as necessary,” emphasising a return to calm and security was “the absolute priority.”

New Caledonia: Kanak Revolt Against French Colonialism

Recently, a high-intensity revolt has been taking place in New Caledonia: looting, destruction of businesses, armed struggle against the police (molotov cocktails, live ammunition...), prison mutiny... In any other region of France, this would be front-page news. But New Caledonia isn't just any other region of France. It's a colony, and as such it's of little interest to mainland France, so it's hard to understand what's going on there. Let's try to unravel the mystery. New Caledonia is a group of islands in Oceania. Until the 18th century, the indigenous peoples of New Caledonia lived without Western interference. This situation changed in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

Why Is New Caledonia On Fire?

New Caledonia’s capital city, Noumea, has endured widespread violent rioting over the past 48 hours. This crisis intensified rapidly, taking local authorities by surprise. Peaceful protests had been occurring across the country in the preceding weeks as the French National Assembly in Paris deliberated on a constitutional amendment that would increase the territory’s electoral roll. As the date for the vote grew closer, however, protests became more obstructive and by Monday night had spiralled into uncontrolled violence. Since then, countless public buildings, business locations and private dwellings have been subjected to arson.
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