Call in French Polynesia to act on Pouvanaa rehabilitation

12:26 pm on 28 January 2019

There is a call in French Polynesia to act on the rehabilitation of the late anti-colonial leader Pouvanaa a Oopa who died in 1977.

Memorial to Pouvanaa a Oopa in Papeete, French Polynesia.

Memorial to Pouvanaa a Oopa in Papeete, French Polynesia. Photo: RNZ Pacific/ Walter Zweifel

Last year, the French court of revision quashed the eight-year jail sentence given to him in 1959 for fomenting unrest.

The historian, whose work was instrumental in overturning the conviction, Jean-Marc Regnault has written an open letter, calling for the plaque on the Pouvanaa statue in front of the assembly building in Papeete to be changed.

He said the plaque should state not only that Pouvanaa was imprisoned but also that he was wrongfully convicted.

Mr Regnault has also called for school children to be taught that Pouvanaa was innocent, yet that he was jailed and sent into exile for 15 years.

In his research, Mr Regnault established that there were two plots against Pouvanaa, with the French state viewing him a communist and the local elite fearing for its privileges.

To eliminate him from the political scene, it emerged, police fabricated testimonies or they extracted under threat of violence comments to incriminate Pouvanaa.

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