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By Lydia Lewis, RNZ Pacific journalist

A Pacific regional network has deplored what they call increasing brutality on Kanak youth in Kanaky New Caledonia and the deployment of thousands of troops.

New Caledonia has experienced a wave of violence with Nouméa the scene of riots, blockades, looting and deadly clashes since mid-May.

France has sent armoured vehicles with machine gun capability to New Caledonia to quell violence.

In a joint statement, endorsed by more than a dozen groups, including Pacific Elders’ Voice and Pacific Youth Council, the Pacific Network on Globalisation said “liberation” was the answer — not repression.

“The people of Kanaky New Caledonia have spoken, saying yet again, any and all attempts to determine the future relationship between France and the territory, by force, and without its people, will never be accepted,” the PANG statement said.

The group wants Paris to implement an impartial Eminent Persons Group (EPG) to resolve the crisis peacefully.

They also want Paris to withdraw the controversial electoral bill that prompted the violent turn of events in the territory.

“The Pacific groups, and solidarity partners therefore strongly support the affirmation of the FLNKS and other pro-independence groups — that responding to the current crisis in a political and non-repressive, non-violent manner is the only pathway towards a viable solution,” PANG said in a statement.

A week after violence broke out in Kanaky New Caledonia on May 13, President Emmanuel Macron flew to the territory for a day to diffuse tensions.

He promised dialogue would continue, “in view of the current context, we give ourselves a few weeks so as to allow peace to return, dialogue to resume, in view of a comprehensive agreement”.

Following his departure, FLNKS representatives and other pro-independence voices were neither convinced of the effectiveness of his visit nor of the genuineness of his intentions, the PANG statement went on to say.

RNZ Pacific has contacted the French Ambassador for the Pacific, Véronique Roger-Lacan, for comment.

The news service has yet to receive a response.

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