Colonial Grip

The latter half of the 20th century was good news for the colonised and independence was cherished as the most prized blessing. For some, however, even the 21st century could not bring the relishes of freedom. New Caledonia is one such territory. Colonised by France, it is a bitter reminder of the dark ages of imperialism. This week brewed trouble in the Pacific territory of Caledonia and France now has its forces deployed to check and put down the pro-freedom protests happening there. An attempt by France to enforce a new voting law in Caledonia is what has sparked the protests. Already sidelined by an inflow of French people, the local Kanak community wants freedom from France.

The colonial mindset and ways are all alike across the world. What India has tried to do in Occupied Kashmir is about an equal reflection of how France is seeking to give an impression of compliance and democracy in a territory that is nothing but under occupation against the will of the locals. But then what else can we expect from a country that supports Israel in keeping the status quo over Palestine? The curse of colonialism still survives for many communities and people around the world. If any spark of struggle ignites, the colony links it to one fast enemy and completely disregards the will of the people who inhabit that land.

In case of Caledonia, the blame rests with, 8700 miles away, Azerbaijan. Just because Baku has openly called out France’s colonisation of territories, the latter now links every freedom call to Baku. Azerbaijan itself claims the disputed, separated land of Nagorno Karabakh, over which two distinct blocs exist. One where India, France, and the West (generally) support Armenia and even have military ties. The other where Pakistan, China, and Turkey remain on Azerbaijan’s side.

Back to New Caledonia, the wave of protests is being seen by experts as stronger and more fierce than any in the recent past. Self-determination is a right the UN guarantees and the so-called civilised world respects but as it plays in real life, the respect for this right becomes a highly contested domain because the West mostly likes to live by its double standards. We have to watch if the Kanaks can, after all these years, break away from the colonial shackles weaved around them.

ePaper - Nawaiwaqt