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  • Will Irvine

Kanaky Fights Back Against French Colonialism

WILL IRVINE (HE/HIM)


There are a lot of players in the colonisation game (Britain, the USA, Spain, and Japan come to mind), but perhaps amongst the most brutal and horrific are the French. Unsatisfied with ruining their own nation, the French government has decided to ruin another—the occupied indigenous nation of Kanaky (also known as New Caledonia).


Kanaky has been illegally and immorally occupied by France since 1854, just 14 years after Aotearoa was occupied by the UK. In the time since, the indigenous Kanak people have been systematically oppressed in a number of ways, including exclusion from the economy and violent crackdowns against protestors.


In the 1980s, Kanak Socialist freedom fighters rebelled, seizing control of the majority of the nation and sparking a decade-long conflict in which the French sought to erode popular sovereignty by any means possible. This conflict culminated in the signing of the Noumea Accords, which provided a means for a gradual transition towards independence.


Unfortunately, the French government has shown little regard for the accords, and held a final independence referendum in 2021, among mass Kanak COVID deaths and a total boycott by the independence movement. Then, this year, the French government decided to extend the vote to European colonists who have lived in Kanaky for more than 10 years. This decision effectively makes Kanak a minority in their own country, and dashes any hopes for a future independence referendum.


Earlier this month, widespread protests against the electoral reforms turned violent, with white settler militias clashing against indigenous protestors. The French responded by militarising the entire island and cracking down on social media, including a total TikTok ban. At time of writing, the situation is still evolving. French President Emmanuel Macron landed in Nouveau on the 22nd of May, attempting to calm tensions, but the Kanak people remain unconvinced, and a lack of trust in the French occupiers still persists.

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