Martyn Bradbury: Shallow NZ media coverage of Kanaky crackdown focused on white tourists

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Most mainstream NZ media - with few exceptions - have been focused on getting scared Kiwi tourists back home
Most mainstream NZ media - with few exceptions - have been focused on getting scared Kiwi tourists back home, very few have actually explained what the hell has been going on. Image: APR

COMMENTARY: By Martyn Bradbury

The coverage by the New Zealand media over the brutal crackdown in New Caledonia by the French on the indigenous Kanak people as they erupted in protest at France’s naked gerrymandering of electoral law has been depressingly shallow.

To date most mainstream NZ media (with the exception RNZ Pacific, Māori media and the excellent David Robie) have been focused on getting scared Kiwi tourists back home, very few have actually explained what the hell has been going on.

This sudden eruption of protest follows a corrupt new draft law French law allowing French people to vote after only 10 years living there.

A typical NZ media headline during the New Caledonia crisis
A typical NZ media headline during the New Caledonia crisis . . . trapped Kiwis repirted, but not the cause of the independence upheaval. Image: NZ Herald screenshot APR

This law is a direct attack on Kanak sovereignty, it’s a purely gerrymandering response to ensure a democratic majority to prevent any independence referendum.

While no one else is allowed in there, as Asia Pacific Report reports the French are using heavy handed tactics…

Pacific civil society and solidarity groups today stepped up their pressure on the French government, accusing it of a “heavy-handed” crackdown on indigenous Kanak protest in New Caledonia, comparing it to Indonesian security forces crushing West Papuan dissent.

A state of emergency was declared last week, at least [seven] people have been killed — [five] of them indigenous Kanaks — and more than 200 people have been arrested after rioting in the capital Nouméa followed independence protests over controversial electoral changes

In Sydney, the Australia West Papua Association declared it was standing in solidarity with the Kanak people in their self-determination struggle against colonialism.

Don’t stand idly by
We should not as a Pacific Island nation be standing idly by while the French are giving the indigenous people the bash.

We need to be asking what the hell has France’s elite troops being doing while no one is watching. The New Zealand government must ask the French Ambassador in and put our concerns to them directly.

Calm must come back but there has to be a commitment to the 1998 Noumea Accord which clearly stipulates that only the Kanak and long-term residents prior to 1998 would be eligible to vote in provincial ballots and local referendums.

To outright vote against this as the French National Assembly did last week is outrageous and will add an extra 25,000 voters into the election dramatically changing the electoral demographics in New Caledonia to the disadvantage of indigenous Kanaks who make up 42 percent of the 270,000 population.

This was avoidable, but the French are purposely trying to screw the scrum and rig the outcome.

We should be very clear that is unacceptable.

Our very narrow media focus on just getting Kiwis out of New Caledonia with no reflection whatsoever on what the French are doing is pathetic.

Republished from The Daily Blog with permission.

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