July 14: Kanaky and Ma’ohi Nui Freedom Sunday

July 14: Kanaky and Ma’ohi Nui Freedom Sunday

The Pacific Conference of Churches (PCC) is the ecumenical body that supports Christian churches and communities throughout the Pacific region.  Advocating for the rights and self-determination of Pasifika people is a program priority for the PCC. During the Pacific Basin Initiative, we join the PCC in inviting you to learn about and pray for indigenous Pacific communities still living under colonial rule. A special focus for July 14, which is Bastille Day, is on the lands and people of the Pacific still governed by France—the people of Kanaky, or what is commonly called New Caledonia, and of Ma’ohi Nui, commonly known as French Polynesia.

From the Pacific Conference of Churches:

Dear siblings and friends of the Pasifika Household of God,

Warm Pacific Greetings from the PCC Secretariat!

Thank you for your continued support and prayers for our sisters and brothers in Kanaky. 

Next Sunday, July 14th, is the National Day of France. The date commemorates the storming of the Bastille, a medieval armoury, fortress, and political prison, on July 14, 1789. The Bastille then represented royal authority in the centre of Paris and was seen by the revolutionaries as a symbol of the monarchy’s abuse of power. Its fall was the flashpoint of the French Revolution.

At a time when our sisters and brothers in Kanaky continue to suffer from the colonial political and socio-economic colonisation by France, which has led to outbreaks of violence, particularly by youth who are deeply frustrated by the French government’s duplicitous approach to Kanaky’s decolonisation, and poverty, lack of equitable development and repression of the dignity of Kanaks; and at a time when our family in Ma’ohi Nui also continues to struggle for the decolonisation process in their islands, as well as justice for 50 years of nuclear devastation on their fenua (island) and people – this national day is a mockery of the phrase “Liberty, Equality and Fraternity” proclaimed during the French Revolution, inscribed in the French 1958 constitution and today an integral part of French national heritage.

At a time when the cry of self-determination echoes from many communities within our Pasifika Household of God, the commemoration of national days and other events by colonisers are being challenged. We are reminded of our commitments made at the 12th General Assembly that:

  • We affirm that Kanaky has always been and must remain Pasifika.
  • We stand ready to support Kanaky’s pursuit of independence from France through a referendum promised by the French Republic. 
  • We commit to supporting efforts to improve the well-being of the Kanak people.
  • We will voyage together for the holistic Self-Determination of Kanaky, Maohi, West Papua, Bougainville, the Land now called Australia, Aotearoa, and other territories that seek liberation and justice.

With these commitments in mind, we humbly ask that all PCC members mark Sunday, July 14, 2024, as Kanaky and Ma’ohi Nui Freedom Sunday (noting West Papua has a special day on 1 December that we already commemorate).

The revised common lectionary texts for Sunday, July 14 are significant for reflecting on the struggle for truth, justice, and freedom and a God who loves and liberates: 

  • Psalm 24 (The Earth is the Lord’s), 
  • 2 Samuel 6:1-5, 12b-19 (David dances before the Ark of the Covenant), 
  • Ephesians 1:3-14 (God predestined the world for love and this love is for all humanity), and
  • Mark 6:14-29 (Herod’s execution of John the Baptist) 

We ask that intercessory prayers please include Kanaky, Ma’ohi Nui, and other communities struggling for decolonisation, self-determination, and the flourishing of Indigenous and vulnerable communities. 

Our most recent PCC documents on Kanaky are attached to this letter. In the days before July 14, we hope to share messages from our communities in Kanaky and Ma’ohi Nui. 

Our deep hope is that our prayers for Kanaky and Ma’ohi Nui this Sunday will be heard as a cry of the Pasifika Household of God on earth as in heaven. 

My sincere appreciation for your kind consideration of this humble request.

Statement on the ‘Question of New Caledonia’ to the Special Committee on the Situation with regard to the implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence of Colonial Countries and Peoples United Nations Headquarters – 10 June 2024

The chair, members of this august committee, petitioners, and observers.

Greetings from the Pasifika Household of God. May the grace and peace of God be
upon you all.

In June 2022, I was here as a Petitioner on behalf of faith and civil society organisations of our Pacific region, home to the French colonised territories of Kanaky, New Caledonia, and Maohi Nui, French Polynesia, to raise our concerns on the failure of the referendum process in Kanaky under the Noumea Accord, through the actions of the French Government to fast-track the third referendum, despite local, regional, and global pleas.

In the two years since, France has taken further actions that contradict its responsibilities as an administrative power to uphold one of the most fundamental principles of the United Nations Charter – the fundamental right of all peoples to be free from colonial rule. France has turned a deaf ear to untiring and peaceful calls of the indigenous people of Kanaky-New Caledonia and other pro-independence supporters for a new political process founded on justice, peaceful dialogue, and consensus and has demonstrated a continued inability and unwillingness to remain neutral and trustworthy party under the Noumea Accord.

Today, on behalf of Pacific Churches and Civil Society, we reiterate our collective concerns about the current situation in Kanaky, which we have expressed in several statements.

Recalling these statements and on behalf of the Église Protestante de Kanaky Nouvelle-Calédonie, and the Pacific Regional Non-Governmental Organisation Alliance, the Pacific Conference of Churches calls:

  1. For the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of the draft constitutional law seeking to unfreeze the local electorate roll. Noting that the Presidents of four other French overseas territories3 have called for the withdrawal of the voting changes;
  2. On the French Government to reconsider, as an essential step to de-escalating tensions in the territory, any further deployment of armed forces to Kanaky;
  3. On the French Presidency to cease any further attempts to enforce externally designed and controlled pathways to determine the political future of Kanaky, including a possible referendum in France to unfreeze the territory’s electorate roll;
  4. On other parties to the Noumea Accord to heed the repeated and non-violent requests of the FLNKS and other pro-independence voices over the last 2-3 years, to allow more conducive conditions for dialogue and negotiation for a better political agreement and to give the process all the time necessary to do so;
  5. For the establishment of an Eminent Persons Group, comprising French, Pacific Islands, and international personalities, in collaboration with the Pacific Islands Forum and the C-24, as a matter of urgency to mediate between the parties and ensure the best conditions to enable a just and peaceful dialogue process for the territory’s political future; and finally,
  6. Beyond the political dialogue process, commitments are to be made and kept for culturally appropriate community trauma healing for all communities in Kanaky and for community dialogue processes, particularly between Kanak and Caldoche, for peacebuilding as well as nation-building.

The very fact that Kanaky New Caledonia is an agenda item in this meeting and that of the 4th Committee is a reminder that their decolonisation is a matter of ‘WHEN’, not ‘if’ – and a ‘when’ that needs to be sooner rather than later.

May God’s blessings of justice, love, and liberation be with all the people of Kanaky as they seek their own equality, liberty, and fraternity.

Oleti Atrqatr (Thank you in the Kanak Drehu dialect).