Cartoons urging New Caledonians to vote no for independence from France in this weekend’s referendum have been accused of “deep and ridiculous racism towards Pacific Islanders, especially Pacific Islanders. [indigenous] Kanak people ”, in a brief presented before the highest judicial body of France.
An urgent appeal against the retransmission of the animations, which have been broadcast on television in New Caledonia and online, has been presented to the Council of State in France.
The cartoon clips are by Le Voix du Non, a grouping of various anti-independence parties, with topics such as the future of passports, the environment, education, health and money under an independent New Caledonia. .
They have been accused of portraying non-whites in a degrading and humiliating way, presenting them as having no command of the French language and with accents “that signify their primitive and uneducated state,” the 12-page legal appeal has alleged.
The call by the pro-independence FLNKS, the Non-aligned Lets Build party and an individual, Lueisi Waupanga, a member of the Polynesian community, to the Council of State follows the failed calls to the Superior Audiovisual Council (CSA) to stop the broadcasts. .
The legal appeal is signed by four New Caledonians, including Professor Mathias Chauchat, a law professor at the University of New Caledonia. The appeal argues that the animations violate CSA broadcasting rules and are racist, degrading and humiliating.
“Is this how you see us after 30 years?” Waupang said on appeal. “Ordinary yam and cassava growers, unable to think for ourselves, generally unable?”
The referral to the Council of State alleges that the animations represent a hierarchy of races, with the mestizo settlers (Caldoches), then the Pacific Islanders, and finally the people of Kanak. The authoritarian character no kanak in the animations warns that independence will deplete services such as health, education and the police and speaks French with a cultivated accent, while the pro-independence characters speak in clearly childish voices.
Philippe Wakaine, a retired civil servant, said the animations, which began airing on November 29, are “truly degrading, the way Kanaks, long-term settlers (Caldoches) and Pacific Islanders are portrayed. , especially through its accents. They are making fun of us. “
In response to requests to cancel the animations, Les Voix Du Non’s campaign manager Christopher Gygés said that “no particular community was targeted.” He told France.tv in Noumea that the goal had been “to simplify complex matters by using the colloquial language of all communities.”
In response to questions from The Guardian, Le Voix Du Non sent an interview given by Gygés to Radio Rythme Bleu (RRB), in which Gygés said he was very surprised by the reaction.
“We wanted to win over those who could abstain, we wanted a serious message without taking ourselves too seriously. I observe that the pro-independence people lack a sense of humor … what really bothers them is the message. To justify their non-participation in the survey, they are finding enemies everywhere ”.
Asked about the controversy caused by the cartoons, Gygés said he was “very surprised” and said that “there was absolutely no racism.”
“We didn’t go too far … I am concerned about a society that does not have a sense of humor.”
This Sunday’s referendum was to be the country’s third and final vote on independence, and support for independence has grown in recent years.
The run-up to the vote has been tense. France has rejected calls from the FLNKS and Pasifika parties to postpone the referendum, due to the usual grieving responsibilities of the Kanaks and islanders, who suffered most of the 277 deaths and 10,700 Covid cases in the territory. The FLNKS has urged the people not to participate in the vote.
The campaign against independence from France has been marked by racism in the past. When the pro-independence parties formed a governing coalition with non-Kanak centrists in 1982, the city of Nouméa was covered in anonymous pamphlets announcing the “Planet of the Apes.”
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism