25 Apr 2006

Pacific leaders urged to help address Goro conflict in New Caledonia

10:49 am on 25 April 2006

The Pacific Concerns Resource Centre, PCRC, is calling on Pacific leaders to address the conflict between the Goro Nickel company and Kanak Rheebu Nuu activists in New Caledonia.

Rheebu Nuu members blocked roads and wrecked 10 million US dollars worth of equipment at the Goro Nickel site to show their dissatisfaction with aspects of the project.

French police cleared the blockades and arrested some of the activists.

The PCRC says it strongly condemns the use of violence by the French state in New Caledonia against Kanak Rheebu Nuu activists and PCRC spokesperson, Ema Tagicakibau, says action is needed.

"We would like to call on the Pacific leaders, who have a vision of the Pacific as a region of peace and we believe that they should get serious about this vision which is part of the Pacific Plan and try to address the concerns of the landowners of Kanak, so that they can avoid the lesson of Bougainville."

Ms Tagicakibau says Kanaks have expressed their environmental concerns for years, but the New Caledonian authorities did not address the issue.

She says the recent use of violence by the Kanaks has to be seen in this context.

Work at the Goro site has been suspended for nearly three weeks, but the company says they are planning to resume the operation at the site partly next week .