France Blames Deadly New Caledonia Uprising On TikTok, Russia, & Azerbaijan 

Tyler Durden's Photo
by Tyler Durden
Friday, May 17, 2024 - 06:45 AM

More shocking images have come out of the ongoing unrest and riots which have gripped the French Pacific territory of New Caledonia, as additional French troops, including reports of elite security forces, are en route to help authorities restore order. 

Determined to suppress an uprising that's killed at least four people and injured hundreds, France starting Wednesday declared a state of emergency -- deploying soldiers, banning the social media platform TikTok, and granting additional police powers to authorities. Authorities say the TikTok shutdown is necessary to thwart the rioters' ability to organize and instigate.

The upheaval was sparked when France passed legislation that would expand the privilege of voting in local elections to all citizens who've lived in New Caledonia for more than 10 years. The territory's pro-independence factions see that move as a deliberate effort to weaken the power of the indigenous Kanaks. 

But instead of focusing on finding a way forward through the archipelago's complex and historic tensions, Paris authorities are now highlighting a 'foreign hand' which has allegedly fueled the anti-France violence. According to a fresh Thursday report in Politico:

French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin said that the violence, which has claimed the lives of three indigenous Kanak people and a police officer, had been actively supported by Azerbaijan.

“This isn’t a fantasy,” he insisted on Thursday. “I regret that some of the separatists have made a deal with Azerbaijan.” However, “even if there are attempts at interference, … France is sovereign on its own territory, and so much the better,” he added.

And of course, the name Russia was quickly invoked as also allegedly 'interfering':

Speaking to POLITICO, a French intelligence official granted anonymity to discuss sensitive issues of national security, said that “we’ve detected activities from Russia and Azerbaijan in New Caledonia for weeks, even a few months. They’re pushing the narrative of France being a colonialist state.”

But the more obvious reality is that the territory has large wealth disparities between those of native and European descent. The French government has invited proponents and opponents of independence to talks in Paris, in what could signal the new voting law could be suspended. 

"Protests turned violent Monday night, with shots fired at security forces, vehicles torched and shops looted in the worst unrest the French overseas territory has seen since the 1980s," reports France24. More than 130 people have been arrested so far. Among the injured: 64 gendarmes and cops. 

"Shots were fired at the gendarmes using high calibre weapons and hunting rifles,” French High Commissioner of the Republic Louis Le Franc told reporters on Monday. The many arson targets have included car dealerships and a bottling facility. Crude roadblocks have been set up on highways and supermarkets and shops have been looted. Some proprietors are surrendering their inventory without resistance while begging the rioters to leave their buildings intact. 

An arson attack utterly devastated this dealership in Noumea, New Caledonia (AFP via Telegraph)

“The police station nearby was on fire and a car was too, in front of my house," a woman whose family's Caledonia roots go back generations told The Telegraph. "There was non-stop shouting and explosions, I felt like I was in a war. We are alone. Who is going to protect us?” 

Some citizens are banding together to take security into their own hands: This neighborhood installed a barrier to keep rioters out (Théo Ruby, AFP via France24)  

For now, the state of emergency covers the next 12 days. It empowers authorities to conduct searches, seize weapons, impose house arrests and restrict individuals' movements. Public gatherings are banned and a curfew has been imposed. The initial focus of troop deployments: securing the territory's ports, and its international airport, which is closed amid the violence. An additional 500 police officers are being sent to the territory.

"No violence will be tolerated," said French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal, noting that the new state powers "will allow us to roll out massive means to restore order." The dead include a 24-year-old French gendarme who succumbed a gunshot wound to the head after he took his helmet off to speak to residents.

Located about 900 miles east of Australia, New Caledonia is one of the remaining vestiges of the French empire. It comprises several island groups, including the 240-mile-long, 25-mile-wide main island, which is also called New Caledonia. Its surrounding barrier reef is the second-largest in the world, behind Australia's Great Barrier Reef.  

via Brittanica

New Caledonia is the world's fourth-largest producer of nickel, behind Indonesia, the Philippines and Russia, and accounts for 7% of world production. However, its nickel industry is on the ropes. Its three processing facilities are near financial collapse, owing to the ongoing political strife that predates the current crisis, as well as high costs, reported in February. That's prompted negotiations for French bailouts.

Earlier this month, our own Congress passed legislation that would effectively ban TikTok in the United States unless Beijing-based parent company ByteDance sells it.

France's banning of TikTok on New Caledonia should stand as a reminder that, for all the US government's screeching about the popular platform being a Chinese weapon that targets Americans' information, the US ban is really about information control.