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Caught On Camera: French Government Sharply Criticised For Human Rights Abuses In New Caledonia

Kanaky Aotearoa Solidarity condemn the use of police brutality to suppress Indigenous dissent in Kanaky. Footage has surfaced exposing French security officers pushing a handcuffed Kanak man to the ground before kicking him in the head, rendering him unconscious. This was gratuitous violence against an already incapacitated individual who posed no threat to the officer.

"The perpetrators of the violence cannot also be the peacemakers” , says spokesperson Jessie Ounei. “This is evident in the harassment of our young unarmed Kanak being brutalised by police officers. Furthermore we express concerns around the legitimacy of their detainment, their transfers and treatment by forces who are now evidenced as carrying out extrajudicial violence. There needs to be an Independent party of observers during this time while we await demilitarisation to ensure that Police officers and French forces are not abusing Kanak”.

Given the entire premise for the protests are the repeated violation of agreements and abuse of power, there's every reason to believe that the apprehensions of Kanak are without due cause, and of course this unacceptable treatment at the hands of French legitimises such concerns. French state violence against Kanak is not an exception to the rule, it is the rule – and is yet another reason why further delays to self-determination of Kanak are unacceptable.

The culpability for this egregious situation extends beyond the officers to the French Ambassador, Ministers and President Macron. It's clear that the unjust use of paramilitary force is premeditated by the French government. The dis-framing of Kanak resistance as thuggery; the erasure of French government misconduct; and the banning of social media - a crucial tool of citizen reporting, have all been carried out at the highest levels of the French government. These acts are easily recognisable by Indigenous peoples as a recipe for state violence. They were utilised as the precursors to state violence at Standing Rock, at Ihumātao, in Gaza and we are seeing the same tactics in Kanaky.

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We echo the concerns of Kanak regarding the increased deployment of the French military, and the likelihood of continued state violence against Kanak. France is the aggressor here, and they have created the tension through their abuse of power. They therefore have no legitimate or moral grounds upon which to hold a role of restoring peace.

The New Zealand response to the growing human rights crisis in Kanaky has been paltry. Kanaky is not only a regional partner but our closest Pacific island neighbour. We call upon Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters to impress upon the French ambassador to Aotearoa our expectation that human rights are upheld in Kanaky and are crucial to the maintenance of peace and stability within the Pacific region. If France are unable to do so, the French ambassador should be expelled.

We further call upon the Human Rights Commission in Aotearoa to engage the French ambassador on the abuse of Kanak human rights defenders and violation of their Indigenous rights within our Pacific region.

Our call to President Macron remains the same: France must demilitarize their response, withdraw all legislative and political measures which violate the inherent Indigenous rights of Kanak, and engage under the stated terms of Kanak peoples on a political solution to France’s continued denial of the inalienable Kanak right to self-determination.

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