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Archbishops speak out on Kanaky

The three Archbishops of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia have spoken out in support of the Kanak people's right to self-determination and reiterated the Kanaky New Calendonian churches' call for calm in the face of the current political and social unrest.

Taonga News  |  29 May 2024  |

Archbishop Sione Ulu'ilakepa, Archbishop Don Tamihere and Archbishop Justin Duckworth have released a statement on the political and social unrest taking place in Kanaky New Caledonia, joining their voices for peace and justice with those of churches across the Pacific region.

The Archbishops' full statement follows below.

Archbishops and Primates of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa New Zealand and Polynesia

Statement on Kanaky, New Caledonia

As Archbishops and Primates of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia we note with concern the difficult and turbulent social and political situation in Kanaky New Caledonia and take this opportunity to state that we as church leaders in the Pacific region:

– Reaffirm the right of the people of Kanaky-New Caledonia to self-determination in accordance with the United Nations Charter and relevant resolutions;

– Recognize the ongoing difficult and turbulent social and political situation in New Caledonia since Monday 12 May 2024, following the adoption of the constitutional bill by the French National Assembly which aims to expand the electorate for provincial elections in Kanaky-New Caledonia,

– Deplore the loss of life and injuries resulting from the ensuing unrest, which includes the deaths of six individuals, among them three young Kanaks killed by white militias and two gendarmes killed trying to keep the order,

– Note with sadness the deployment of 1,000 soldiers to reinforce security, reminiscent of the martial measures experienced in 1985 that led to loss of lives,

– Reaffirm the importance of decolonization and self-determination as enshrined in the United Nations Charter and relevant UN resolutions,

– Reiterate the call for calm by religious and customary organizations, and note the willingness of the French government to engage in dialogue through a proposed videoconference with political parties and the possible sending of a dialogue mission to New Caledonia.

We acknowledge the statement by the Pacific Conference of Churches (PCC) on 16 May 2024, which expresses deep solidarity with the people of Kanaky in this time of crisis in which the churches of the Pacific region;

• Condemn the violence and loss of life that has occurred in New Caledonia since the adoption of the constitutional bill;

• Call for immediate cessation of violence from all parties and urges the respect for human rights and the rule of law;
• Urge the French government to reconsider the constitutional bill and to postpone or withdraw it to allow time for meaningful negotiations with relevant stakeholders;

• Call upon the French government to engage in an inclusive dialogue with all political parties and representatives of the Kanak people to address their concerns and aspirations, including the prospect of self-determination;

• Encourage the French government to facilitate the arrival of a regional dialogue mission led by the Pacific Islands Forum to support the negotiation process and the restoration of order through the provision of regional peacekeeping contingent under the Biketawa Declaration of the Pacific Islands Forum;

• Call on the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) and the Pacific Islands Forum (FIP) to keep Kanaky-New Caledonia on the United Nations’ list of countries to be decolonized and to include it in the agenda of their upcoming meetings;

Finally, as we ask for the support of our Church and our global church family, we:

– Call on Anglicans across Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia to keep Kanaky New Caledonia and its peoples in their prayers and to amplify the voices of Kanak people calling for peace and justice

– Invite the Anglican Communion to engage in prayer and solidarity actions to support the voice of the people of Kanaky; and

– Request the World Council of Churches (WCC) through its Commission of Churches on International Affairs, to prioritize this issue and engage with the French Government and the United Nations Committees on Decolonisation (C24 and 4th Committee) in both its Geneva and New York offices.

Signed by

Archbishop Sione Silongo Ulu’ilakepa (Bishop of Polynesia)
Archbishop Don Tamihere (Bishop of Aotearoa)
Archbishop Justin Duckworth (Senior Bishop of the New Zealand Dioceses)