Thousands rally in Tahiti over nuke legacy

6:26 am on 19 July 2021

Several thousand people in French Polynesia have joined a march demanding France own up to the damage caused by its nuclear weapons tests.

Anti-nuclear protest in Tahiti

Anti-nuclear protest in Tahiti Photo: FB Tavini Huiraatira

The rally was organised by nuclear veterans group and the pro-independence opposition to mark the day in 1974 when fallout from an atmospheric nuclear test covered all of French Polynesia.

The protest under the banner Maohi Lives Matter came a week before the French president Emmanuel Macron is due for his delayed first official visit to the territory.

A pro-independence parliamentarian Moetai Brotherson said over the years the French tests had contributed to the death of thousands of people yet France refused to apologise for that.

France has ruled out an apology and its government told a roundtable on the nuclear legacy in Paris earlier this month that it never told lies about the testing programme.

The pro-independence leader Oscar Temaru said France had denied the reality for decades, adding that he fought against France's lies which he likened to terrorism.

In 2018, Mr Temaru's Tavini Huiraatira Party and the dominant Maohi Protestant Church alleged that the weapons testing amounted to a crime against humanity and referred all living French presidents to the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

Anti-nuclear rally in Papeete

Anti-nuclear rally in Papeete Photo: FB Association 1933