Cartoons urging New Caledonians to vote no to independence from France in this weekend’s referendum have been accused of “deep racism and ridicule towards the people of the Pacific Islands, especially the people of the Pacific Islands. [indigenous] Kanak people ”, in a brief filed with the highest judicial body in France.
An urgent appeal has been filed against the broadcast of the animations, which were broadcast on television in New Caledonia and online, with the Council of State in France.
The cartoon clips are directed by Le Voix du Non – a grouping of various anti-independence parties – with themes such as the future of passports, the environment, education, health and money under one News -Independent Caledonia.
They have been accused of depicting non-whites in a degrading and humiliating manner, portraying them as having no command of the French language and with accents “which signify their primitive and uneducated state,” alleged the legal appeal of 12. pages.
The appeal of the independentist FLNKS, of the non-aligned party Lets Build and of an individual, Lueisi Waupanga, a member of the Polynesian community, to the Council of State follows unsuccessful appeals to the High Audiovisual Council (CSA) for stop broadcasts.
The legal action is signed by four citizens of New Caledonia, including Professor Mathias Chauchat, professor of law at the University of New Caledonia. The appeal argues that the animations contravene the CSA broadcasting rules and are racist, degrading and humiliating.
“Is this how you see us after 30 years?” Waupang said in the appeal. “Common yam and cassava farmers, unable to think for ourselves, generally incapable?” “
The referral to the Council of State alleges that the events depict a hierarchy of races, with the Métis settlers (Caldoches), then the Pacific Islanders and finally the Kanak people. The authoritarian non-Kanak character in the animations warns that independence will exhaust services such as health, education and the police and speaks French with a cultivated accent, while the separatist characters speak with typically childish voices.
Philippe Wakaine, a retired official, said the animations, which began airing on November 29, are “really degrading, the way the Kanaks, longtime settlers (Caldoches) and Pacific Islanders are portrayed, especially through their accents. They make fun of us.
In response to calls for the cancellation of the animations, the campaign director of Voix Du Non, Christopher Gygés declared that “no particular community was targeted”. He told France.tv in Noumea that the aim had been to “simplify complex issues through the use of a language familiar to 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 at the reaction.
“We wanted to win over those who could abstain, we wanted a serious message without taking ourselves too seriously. I see that the separatists lack humor… what bothers them is really the message. To justify their non-participation in the ballot, they find enemies everywhere.
Asked about the controversy over the cartoons, Gygés said he was “very surprised” and said that there was “absolutely no racism”.
“We didn’t go too far… I’m worried about a company that doesn’t have a sense of humor. ”
This Sunday’s referendum was to be the country’s third and last vote on independence, with support for independence increasing in recent years.
Preparations for the vote were difficult. France refused calls from the FLNKS and Pasifika parties to postpone the referendum, due to the customary mourning responsibilities of Kanaks and Islanders, who suffered the majority of the 277 deaths and 10,700 cases of Covid in the territory. The FLNKS urged people not to participate in the vote.
The campaign against independence from France has been marked by racism in the past. When the independence parties formed a government coalition with the non-Kanak centrists in 1982, the city of Noumea was covered with anonymous leaflets announcing “The planet of the apes”.