Statement Prepared by Eloi Machoro of the Kanak Nation (New Caledonia) for Presentation at the Third General Assembly of the World Council of Indigenous Peoples
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DOCUMENT: MACHORO.TXT


          STATEMENT PREPARED BY ELOI MACHORO OF NEW CALEDONIA
         FOR PRESENTATION AT THE THIRD GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE
                  WORLD COUNCIL OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLES

     1. GEOGRAPHICAL BACKGROUND

     NEW CALEDONIA IS PART OF THE MELANESIAN ARCHIPELAGO, WHICH 
     CONTAINS THE INDEPENDENT COUNTRIES PAPUA NEW GUINEA, THE 
     SOLOMON ISLANDS, VANUATU, FIJI AND TONGA. NEW CALEDONIA IS 
     THE SOLE TERRITORY IN THIS GROUP OF COUNTRIES THAT REMAINS 
     THE COLONY OF A EUROPEAN POWER. IT IS LOCATED 1,500 KM TO 

     THE WEST OF AUSTRALIA, AT ABOUT THE SAME LATITUDE AS 
     TOWNSVILLE.  THE MAIN ISLAND, SOME 200 KM LONG AND 30 KM 
     WIDE, CONTAINS THE CAPITAL, NOUMEA; IN ADDITION THERE ARE 
     THE THREE SMALLER LOYALTY ISLANDS.  
     
     2. A BRIEF HISTORY 
     
     FRANCE CLAIMED POSSESSION OF NEW CALEDONIA IN 1853. SINCE 
     THEN, FRANCE HAS SENT SETTLERS THERE; IT HAS ALSO USED PARTS 
     OF NEW CALEDONIA AS PENAL SETTLEMENTS. THE BEST LAND WAS 
     THUS TAKEN FROM THE INDIGENOUS KANAKS AND GIVEN TO SETTLERS 
     OR USED FOR PRISON AREAS.  
     
     THIS WAS NOT PASSIVELY ACCEPTED BY THE KANAKS, WHO REVOLTED 
     IN 1878 AND AGAIN IN 1917. BUT THE FRENCH GOVERNMENT USED 
     THESE REVOLTS AS A PRETEXT TO CRUSH THE KANAKS AND TAKE MORE 
     LAND FOR FRENCH SETTLEMENTS. MANY KANAKS WERE DEPORTED FROM 
     NEW CALEDONIA TO QUEENSLAND AND TAHITI. OTHERS WERE SENT TO 
     OTHER PARTS OF NEW CALEDONIA POPULATED BY DIFFERENT 
     INDIGENOUS GROUPS. THIS CREATED TENSIONS AMONG DIFFERENT 
     KANAK GROUPS CLANS ETANGERS WHO HAD BEEN TRANSPORTED FROM 
     OTHER PARTS OF NEW CALEDONIA.  
     
     AT THE SAME TIME THE FRENCH EMBARKED ON A POLICY OF CULTURAL 
     GENOCIDE, REPLACING THE NATIVE CULTURE WITH FRENCH WAYS. THE 
     CATHOLIC CHURCH COLLABORATED WITH THE FRENCH GOVERNMENT IN 
     TRYING TO ELIMINATE THE KANAK CULTURE. UP UNTIL NOW ALL 
     EDUCATION HAS BEEN IN FRENCH, IGNORING THE 36 KANAK 
     LANGUAGES SPOKEN IN NEW CALEDONIA. YOUNG KANAKS ARE EVEN 
     TAUGHT THAT THEIR ANCESTORS WERE THE GAULS! ONLY THE 
     PROTESTANT EDUCATION IS BILINGUAL. 

     THE ONLY CULTURE RECOGNIZED AND MAINTAINED BY THE GOVERNMENT 
     AND THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IS FRENCH CULTURE; INDEED, THE 
     FRENCH NEVER RECOGNIZED A KANAK CULTURE.  
     
     3. COMPOSITION OF-THE POPULATION 

     THERE ARE ABOUT 160,000 PEOPLE LIVING IN NEW CALEDONIA 
     TODAY.  THIS INCLUDES:  
     
          (a) 60,000 KANAKS 

          (b) 25,000 "CALEDOCHES" - DESCENDANTS OF THE SETTLERS 
              WHO HAVE BEEN IN NEW CALEDONIA FOR SEVERAL 
              GENERATIONS.  

          (c) OTHERS:  

              i)   NATIVE PEOPLE FROM OTHER FRENCH COLONIES - 
                   MARTINIQUE, REUNION, GUADELOUPE, WALLIS AND 
                   FUTUNA ISLANDS, TAHITI.  
     
              ii)  FRENCH CITIZENS FROM VIETNAM, ALGERIA, 
                   VANUATU, WHO WERE EXPELLED FROM THESE 
                   COUNTRIES AFTER INDEPENDENCE.  
     
              iii) DESCENDANTS OF THE LABOURERS FROM NEW 
                   HEBRIDES, JAPAN, JAVA, AND INDONESIA, WHO 
                   WERE IMPORTED TO PROVIDE THE FRENCH SETTLERS 
                   WITH CHEAP LABOUR.  
     
     4. POLITICAL STATUS OF THE TERRITORY  
     
          (a) OWNERSHIP OF LANDS AND MINERALS IN 1853 FRANCE TOOK 
              POSSESSION OF ALL THE LAND. SOME WAS GIVEN TO 
              SETTLERS AS PRIVATE PROPERTY, SOME WAS ALLOCATED TO 
              THE KANAKS AS "RESERVES". BUT THESE RESERVES REMAIN 
              FRENCH PROPERTY. THE REST OF THE LAND WAS KEPT FOR 
              THE STATE AND THE TERRITORY ADMINISTRATION.  
     
              ALL MINERAL DEPOSITS BELONG TO THE STATE. NEW 
              CALEDONIA IS THE THIRD MOST IMPORTANT EXPORTER OF 
              NICKEL. THERE ARE ALSO SIGNIFICANT DEPOSITS OF 
              CHROME AND OTHER MINERALS.  
     
              FRANCE ALSO LAYS CLAIM TO ALL SEAS WITHIN 200 MILES 
              OF NEW CALEDONIA. THIS AREA CONTAINS VAST 
              QUANTITIES OF MINERAL-BEARING "NODULES" AN 
              IMPORTANT ENERGY RESOURCE FOR THE FUTURE. IT 
              POSSIBLY ALSO CONTAINS LARGE PETROLEUM DEPOSITS. 
              FRANCE HAS ALSO MADE ARRANGEMENTS WITH THE 
              AMERICANS AND JAPANESE FOR COMMERCIAL FISHING.  
     
              IT IS ALWAYS FRANCE THAT MAKES THESE DECISION; THE 
              EXPLOITATION OF NEW CALEDONIA'S MINERAL RESOURCES 
              PROVIDES MONEY FOR THE FRENCH, BUT ONLY POLLUTION 
              FOR THE KANAKS.  
     
          (b) STATUS OF LANDS 
     
              THE KANAKS LIVE ON LANDS WHICH THEY WORK IN ORDER 
              TO LIVE, BUT WHICH BELONG TO THE FRENCH GOVERNMENT. 
              THIS SYSTEM OF "USUFRUIT" IS REMINISCENT OF THE 
              MEDIEVAL SERF SYSTEM. ALL PEOPLE WHO ARRIVED AFTER 
              COLONIZATION CAN OWN PROPERTY BUT THE KANAKS, 

              AS A COMMUNITY, HAVE NO SUCH RIGHT. HOWEVER, THE 
              GOVERNMENT DOES ALLOW INDIVIDUAL, KANAKS TO OWN 
              LAND. THIS HELPS DESTROY THE UNITY OF THE KANAK 
              COMMUNITY BY ENCOURAGING SOME INDIVIDUAL KANAKS TO 
              INTEGRATE INTO EUROPEAN-STYLE SOCIETY. 
              
          (c) STATUS OF THE PEOPLE 

              TWO TYPES OF LEGAL STATUS ARE RECOGNIZED: 
     
              i)   COMMON LAW STATUS FOR FRENCH "NATIONALS" 
     
              ii)  SPECIAL STATUS FOR THE KANAKS 

              THESE ARE NOT EQUAL BEFORE THE LAW. FOR EXAMPLE, IN 
              "MIXED  MARRIAGES" THE INDIVIDUAL WITH "SPECIAL 
              STATUS" LOSES IT AND  GAINS "COMMON LAW STATUS". 
              THIS IS YET ANOTHER MEANS OF SUPPRESSING THE 
              IDENTITY OF THE KANAK PEOPLE. ALL CHILDREN OF SUCH 
              MARRIAGES HAVE "COMMON LAW" STATUS, AND LOSE ANY 
              CLAIM TO SPECIAL LAND RIGHTS. EVEN THE CHILDREN OF 
              MIXED DE FACTO RELATIONSHIPS HAVE COMMON LAW 
              STATUS.  
     
          (d) POLITICAL POWER - STILL HELD BY FRANCE 
     
              SINCE NEW CALEDONIA IS A FRENCH TERRITORY, IT IS 
              GOVERNED BY A REPRESENTATIVE OF FRANCE - THE HIGH 
              COMMISSIONER. 
     
              A LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY IS ELECTED DIRECTLY BY THE 
              NEW CALEDONIA POPULATION AND ELECTS IN ITS TURN AN 
              EXECUTIVE COUNCIL WHICH IS PRESIDED OVER BY THE 
              HIGH COMMISSIONER. THE REPRESENTATIVES OF THE 
              POPULATION MAY THUS MAKE LAWS, BUT ONLY THOSE LAWS 
              WHICH AGREE WITCH THE FRENCH CONSTITUTION.    
       
              THE HIGH COMMISSIONER IS AT THE SAME TIME PRESIDENT 
              OF THE LOCAL EXECUTIVE COUNCIL AND EXECUTIVE OF THE 
              FRENCH GOVERNMENT 20, 000 KILMOTRES AWAY. SO IN NEW 
              CALEDONIA WE SAY THAT THE HIGH COMMISSIONER "HAS 
              TWO HATS". BUT HE IS PRIMARILY A FRENCH EXECUTIVE, 
              EXERCISING POWER IN SUCH VITAL AREAS AS 
              IMMIGRATION, SECONDARY EDUCATION, DEFENSE, POLICE, 
              COMMERCE, TELECOMMUNICATIONS AND MEDIA, HEALTH, AND 
              THE BUDGET. IN OTHER WORDS, ALL IMPORTANT ISSUES 
              ARE DECIDED BY FRANCE.  
     
     5. THE CURRENT POLITICAL SITUATION 

     THERE ARE THREE MAIN GROUPS IN THE TERRITORIAL ASSEMBLY:  
     
          (a) THE RIGHT WING, HOLDING 15 SEATS, OPPOSE 
              INDEPENDENCE  WHICH WOULD THREATEN THEIR WEALTH. IT 
              IS A COALITION WHOSE POLICIES COINCIDE WITH GISCARD 
              D'ESTAING AND JACQUES CHIRAC IN FRANCE AND IS 
              SUPPORTED BY TWO MAIN GROUPS - THE WEALTHY 
              LANDOWNERS, AND THE IMMIGRANT POPULATION, BECAUSE 
              THEY CLAIM TO GUARANTEE THE AVAILABILITY OF WORK 
              FOR IMMIGRANTS. MOST OF THE FRENCH OFFICIALS ALSO 
              SUPPORT THIS PARTY.  
     
          (b) THE CENTRE, WITH 7 SEATS, SUPPORTED BY THE 
              "CALEDOCHES".  THE CENTRE SUPPORTS GISCARD IN THE 
              FRENCH PARLIAMENT;  IT FEARS INDEPENDENCE BECAUSE 
              THE CALEDOCHES WOULD LOSE THEIR LAND. THEY CLAIM TO 
              BE AS "CALEDONIAN" AS THE KANAKS; BUT THEY ALSO 
              LIKE TO SEE THEMSELVES AS FRENCH.  
     
          (C) THE INDEPENDENCE FRONT, WITH 14 SEATS. IN THE 1978  
              ELECTIONS, THEY GAINED 82% OF THE KANAK VOTE. IT 
              COMPRISES FIVE PARTIES, WHO ALL WANT INDEPENDENCE 
              FOR NEW CALEDONIA, THE KANAKS' HOMELAND. FOREMOST 
              AMONG THEM IS THE UNION CALEDONIENNE, WHICH WAS THE 
              FIRST PARTY CREATED FOR THE KANAKS IN THE 1950'S. 
              THIS FRONT AIMS TO GAIN COMPLETE INDEPENDENCE - 
              INDEPENDENCE IN THE CHOICE OF TRADING PARTNERS, 
              CURRENTLY IMPOSED FROM ABOVE BY FRANCE, 
              INDEPENDENCE IN THEIR POLITICAL ALLIANCES. ABOVE 
              ALL, THE KANAKS WANT TO BE THEMSELVES, WITH THEIR 
              OWN CULTURE, AND OWNING THEIR OWN LAND.  
     
              FRANCE CLAIMS THAT THE MAJORITY OF NEW CALEDONIANS 
              DO NOT WANT TO BE INDEPENDENT. THIS IS ONLY TRUE 
              BECAUSE FRANCE STACKS THE VOTE. SINCE THE 1950'S, 
              IT HAS ORGANIZED IMMIGRATION FROM THE FRENCH 
              TERRITORIES AND ENROLLMENTS OF TEMPORARY ARMY 
              PERSONNEL, IN ORDER TO SWAMP THE NATIVE VOTE. IN 
              THIS WAY IT MANIPULATES THE ELECTORATE, 
              CONTRAVENING THE UNITED NATIONS PROCLAMATION WHICH 
              RECOGNIZES THE RIGHT OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLES TO SELF 
              DETERMINATION.  
     
     6. CONCLUSION 
     
     I HOPE THAT THIS BRIEF STATEMENT WILL SHOW YOU THAT THE 
     INDIGENOUS PEOPLE OF NEW CALEDONIA HAVE MANY OF THE SAME 
     PROBLEMS AS THE OTHER INDIGENOUS PEOPLE OF THE WORLD. WE ARE 
     READY TO SUPPORT THEM IN THEIR STRUGGLE AGAINST THE 
     IMPERIALISM OF THE GREAT NATIONS, FOR THE SURVIVAL OF THEIR 
     OWN RACE AND CULTURE AND FOR THE POSSESSION OF THEIR LANDS.  
     WE SUPPORT THE AUSTRALIAN ABORIGINES IN PARTICULAR AND WE 
     CLOSELY FOLLOW PROGRESS OF THEIR STRUGGLE. WE FIND IT EASY 
     TO IDENTIFY OURSELVES WITH THEIR POSITION. LIKE THEM WE ARE 
     THE BLACKS OF THE SOUTH PACIFIC. LIKE THEM WE ARE FIGHTING 
     FOR THE POSSESSION OF OUR LANDS AND FOR THE RECOGNITION AND 
     SURVIVAL OF OUR CULTURE, FOR JUSTICE AND FOR THE RIGHTS OF 
     MAN.  
     
     WE HAVE FOUND THAT WORDS SUCH AS THE RIGHTS OF MAN ARE 
     COMPLETELY MEANINGLESS WHEN THE IMPERIALIST POWERS MEET TO 
     DISCUSS ISSUES LIKE NICKEL IN NEW CALEDONIA AND URANIUM IN 
     AUSTRALIA.  
     
     WE EXPRESS OUR REGRET AT NOT BEING ABLE TO TAKE PART IN THIS 
     CONFERENCE AS DELEGATES BUT HOPE THAT THIS WILL CHANGE AT 
     THE NEXT MEETING.  
     
     IN CONCLUSION, I CAN SAY THAT, IF THE INDIGENOUS PEOPLE ARE 
     DIFFERENT FROM ONE ANOTHER IN MANY RESPECTS, THEY ARE UNITED 
     AS BROTHERS AND SISTERS IN A COMMON BATTLE.  

     
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