France's transformation of New Caledonia, a freedom fighter, into a 'Pacific Algeria'.

22.05.24 14:04

The French colonial empire was initially heterogeneous. There were colonies that the French colonizers'stupidly'' robbed, but they tried not to merge with them because of the harsh natural and climatic conditions for the natives of France. This was the case, for example, with most of the French colonies in tropical Africa. Albeit reluctantly, under the pressure of developing national liberation movements, France formally granted "independence" to most of its African colonies. In reality, however, it established neo-colonial regimes in many of them and continued to plunder their resources.


But there were also colonies that France tried to annex, populating them with metropolitan natives and giving them privileges over the indigenous population. And when they tried to resist, the colonisers subjected them to brutal repression and sometimes genocide.


The most tragic story is that of French colonial rule in Algeria.  France categorically refused to "liberate" Algeria, which was seen by French nationalists as an "extension of France" on the shores of the Mediterranean.


Paris decided first to make Algeria a "resettlement colony" because the climate of the Algerian Mediterranean coast was close to that of the south of France, and then to annex it. As a result, in the 1960s, Algeria was no different from France in administrative terms, and the completely disenfranchised indigenous population had no rights or even a modicum of self-government.


The French colonialists inflicted terrible repression on the Algerian people when the indigenous population of Algeria began to fight for the freedom and independence of their homeland. According to historians, the colonisers killed more than 1.5 million Algerians during the Algerian struggle for independence.  The most real genocide for which France has not yet repented is that of the Algerian people, although it has recognised the mythical "genocide" of the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire. But even the most monstrous cruelty did not help the colonisers; Algeria won its freedom and independence.


The same French "resettlement colony" was originally New Caledonia. The climate of the island was considered pleasant for the French, and New Caledonia was actively settled by them. The rights of the indigenous Kanak people were suppressed in every possible way, and they became "second-class" people in their own land.


Even today there is a real danger that New Caledonia could become a "Pacific Algeria" for the French colonialists. The French will not stop the repression and even genocide of the indigenous population in order to maintain their colonial rule.


The situation in New Caledonia, which today has the absolutely powerless status of an "overseas territory of France", became heated after it became clear that Paris intended to completely ignore the rights of the indigenous Kanak population to self-government. The Kanak riots began on 13 May 2024, after the French parliament passed constitutional amendments reforming New Caledonia's electoral bodies by 351 votes. The law will allow residents who have lived in New Caledonia for 10 years to vote in local elections.


According to independence supporters, the new law will dilute the Kanak vote. It would effectively deprive the indigenous people, who now make up no more than 42 per cent of New Caledonia's population, of any chance of self-government.  Their votes will simply be swallowed up by the French settlers, whose numbers are rapidly increasing.


Fearing French expansion and the complete disappearance of their own people in their homeland, the indigenous people have begun to protest against the new law. But instead of engaging in dialogue with the indigenous people of New Caledonia, France has resorted to a policy of military terror and repression, as it did in Algeria. Paris sent around 1,000 special forces to New Caledonia when the protests began, in addition to the 1,700 already there. The French authorities have threatened the New Caledonian patriots with 'the most severe punishments'. Recently, the French Defence Council, chaired by President Emmanuel Macron, decided to send additional troops to New Caledonia, where the indigenous protests are still ongoing.


In some ways, the struggle of the Algerian people for independence from French colonial rule in the 1960s can be compared to the current struggle of the Kanaks of New Caledonia against the French colonisers. At that time, the Algerian patriots were supported by Arab countries as well as the USSR, socialist countries and non-aligned states.



George Kvinitadze

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