ILPS statement of solidarity for a sovereign Kanaky-New Caledonia

Issued by the Office of the Chairperson
International League of Peoples´ Struggle
July 19, 2018

The International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS) expresses its solidarity for the struggle for self-determination and liberation of the people of Kanaky-New Caledonia against French colonial rule and imperialist plunder.

France annexed this Melanesian island chain in the Southwestern Pacific Ocean in 1853 and turned it into a penal colony starting in 1864. French convicts were shipped to New Caledonia including thousands of communards after the defeat of the Paris Commune in 1871, among them Louise Michel who later on worked with the indigenous Kanak people to fight for liberation from French colonial rule even after the communards were granted general amnesty in 1879.

A Kanak revolt erupted in 1878 where over a thousand Kanaks were killed. Over the course of the next few decades, the Kanak population was decimated by massacres, displacements, colonial army raids and looting of their lands, which led to malnutrition and deadly diseases introduced by the settlers. Reserves were created, and the Native Code established a two-tier justice system. By the early 20th century the Kanaks had become a minority in their own land.

new caledoniaIn 1942, the US set-up a military base in Grande Terre, the main island in New Caledonia where 40,000 American troops were stationed. In 1946, the United Nations included New Caledonia in its list of Non-Self-Governing Territories. The Kanaks lost even more land with the rise in nickel production in the 1950s and 1960s as more migrants were brought into New Caledonia.

Kanak nationalists engaged in electoral and mass struggles from the 1950s onwards demanding full independence. Militant protests peaked in the évènements of the 1980s but ended following the assassination of several leaders including Pierre Declercq, Éloi Machoro, Jean-Marie Tjibaou and Yeiwéné-Yeiwéné and the bloodbath of Ouvéa in 1988 when 19 activists were gunned down or executed.  Independence leaders and the French government signed the Matignon Accords in the same year, promising progressive autonomy and independence at a later date. Some 10 years later, the Nouméa Accord of 1998 once again put off independence by postponing the referendum for self-determination by another two decades.

This historic referendum is finally scheduled for November 2018. But French imperialism appears determined to keep New Caledonia – which accounts for 15% of the world’s nickel reserves and 7% of the world’s nickel production – under its boot. The local puppet administrators are systematically disenfranchising Kanak voters while agitating the settler population to vote against independence.

The ILPS calls on all anti-imperialist forces of the world to support the just, heroic, and longstanding albeit relatively unknown, struggle for self-determination and liberation of the people of Kanak-New Caledonia.

The peoples of Kanak-New Caledonia must be free and independent!
Down with imperialism and all reactionaries!
Long live a Sovereign Kanak-New Caledonia!

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