New Caledonia “Riots”

Kanaky solidarity rally France

“Anything that happens in New Caledonia is of interest to the nickel industry”, the Financial Review reports. The French government is pouring soldiers and police into Kanaky (New Caledonia). Kanaky possesses an estimated 25% of the world’s known nickel reserves and accounts for approximately 6% of global nickel production.

The French state maintains the fiction that “New Caledonia” is part of France, in truth it is a colony. France seized Kanaky in 1853, drove Indigenous Kanak people from their land, introduced diseases, perpetrated massacres, confined Kanak people to “reservations”, and sought to replace the Kanak population with European migrants. Today, three major companies exploit Kanaky for its nickel reserves, all are ultimately owned by multinationals with their roots in France.

Nickel is a key component of the lithium-ion batteries used in electric vehicles, and the electric vehicle industry is expanding rapidly. China is rapidly becoming a centre of electric vehicle manufacture and threatens to out compete European car markers. French capitalists fear that an independent Kanaky could decide to sell the rights to its nickel mines to Chinese capitalists rather than French ones.

This is why the French state is trying to undo its past promises to “New Caledonia”. In 1998 France signed the Nouméa Accord, which promised greater Kanak political power and the possibility of Independence. Under the terms of the Nouméa Accord, voting in provincial elections was restricted to people who had resided in New Caledonia prior to 1998, and their children. France is now seeking to undo this process. A recent constitutional amendment would expand the franchise to recent French settlers, further marginalising Kanak people, and heading off the prospect of a successful independence referendum.

The French state is intent on maintaining control over its last Pacific colony, and Australia implicitly supports France in this aim. As anarchists the path is clear, we must support the struggle against colonial rule.

Cover Photo: A Kanak solidarity rally in France. Source: Union Communiste Libertaire.