This week in history – the Rainbow Warrior bombing as told to ABC’s Nightlife

Report by Dr David Robie – Café Pacific.

Journalist, media educator and author David Robie … Rainbow Warrior bombing reflections
after 33 years. Image: PMC

Pacific Media Watch Newsdesk
Pacific environmental and political journalist David Robie has recalled the bombing of the original Greenpeace flagship Rainbow Warrior 33 years ago in an interview with host Sarah Macdonald on the ABC’s Nightlife “This Week in History” programme.

Dr Robie, now professor of journalism and director of the Pacific Media Centre at Auckland University of Technology, wrote the 1986 book Eyes Of Fire: Last Voyage of the Rainbow Warrior that has been published in four countries and five editions.

LISTEN: Terrorism in Auckland in 1985

The 2015 edition of Eyes of Fire with the Rongelap
evacuation on the cover. Image: LIP

He spoke of the humanitarian voyage of the Rainbow Warrior to Rongelap Atoll in the Marshall Islands to fetch the islanders to safety in a four-voyage relocation mission.

The Rongelap community had been ravaged by the fallout and the long-term health impact of US nuclear testing.

Dr Robie was awarded the 1985 Media Peace Prize by the NZ Peace Foundation for his coverage.

His reflections were broadcast in a 23-minute programme broadcast at the weekend marking the bombing by French secret agents on 10 July 1985.

David Robie’s cover story for the Fiji-based Islands Business on the Rainbow Warrior bombing in August 1985.
Image: PMC

This article was first published on Café Pacific.

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Journalist tells of Rainbow Warrior bombing, Pacific fallout on ABC

Journalist, media educator and author David Robie … Rainbow Warrior bombing reflections after 33 years. Image: PMC

Pacific Media Watch Newsdesk

Pacific environmental and political journalist David Robie has recalled the bombing of the original Greenpeace flagship Rainbow Warrior 33 years ago in an interview with host Sarah Macdonald on the ABC’s Nightlife programme.

Dr Robie, now professor of journalism and director of the Pacific Media Centre at Auckland University of Technology, wrote the 1986 book Eyes Of Fire: Last Voyage of the Rainbow Warrior that has been published in four countries and five editions.

LISTEN: Terrorism in Auckland in 1985

The 2015 edition of Eyes of Fire with the Rongelap evacuation on the cover. Image: LIP

He was awarded the 1985 Media Peace Prize by the NZ Peace Foundation for his coverage.

He spoke of the humanitarian voyage of the Rainbow Warrior to Rongelap Atoll in the Marshall Islands to fetch the islanders to safety in a four-voyage relocation mission.

The Rongelao community had been ravaged by the fallout and the long-term health impact of US nuclear testing.

-Partners-

His reflections were broadcast in a 23-minute programme broadcast at the weekend marking the bombing by French secret agents on 10 July 1985.

David Robie’s cover story for the Fiji-based Islands Business on the Rainbow Warrior bombing in August 1985. Image: PMC

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Article by AsiaPacificReport.nz

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Blood in the Pacific: 30 years on from the Ouvéa Island cave massacre

SPECIAL REPORT: By Max Uechtritz

On Saturday, 30 years ago in 1988, I smelled death for the first time – literally.

A sickening, almost suffocating, stench assaulted my nostrils in a dank cave where 21 men – 19 Kanak militants and two French military – had been killed the previous day in what lives on infamously as the “Ouvéa Island massacre” in New Caledonia.

Our feet sunk deep into the loose layer of moist loam the gendarmes had shovelled from the jungle outside onto the cave floor to cover the blood and waste of the dead.

On what we trod it was impossible to know. I dry retched.

My ABC cameraman Alain Antoine, sound recordist Stewart Palmer and I were the very first of the first group of journalists to be allowed inside the Gossannah cave complex on Ouvéa where the Kanaks had died in an assault by French Special Forces.

We’d been flown from the capital Nouméa in a French military helicopter. As we’d scrambled onto the Ouvéa tarmac we bumped into a giant Kanak prisoner sporting red shorts, yellow T shirt and manacles being led the other way by French military (pictured below).

A Kanak militant being led away in handcuffs by French securiuty forces on Ouvéa Island in May 1988. Image: revolutionpermanente.fr

-Partners-

A few days earlier on the main island I experienced for the first of many times in my career the shock of having a cocked, loaded gun pointed at me. We’d happened upon the helicopter evacuation of a French officer wounded in an ambush. He later died.

Not worth shooting
A frightened, angry adrenalin-charged soldier raced up to our car screaming and pointing his automatic weapon before being calmed by a superior who chose to believe we were civilian journalists, not rebels and not worth shooting.

They were tense days.

The Ouvéa event is still cloaked in controversy (French President Emmanuel Macron visited Ouvéa yesterday for the 30th anniversary but, under pressure from families of the dead, refrained from laying a wreath at the graves of the 19 Kanaks).

The action and its context is described by respected Pacific author David Robie in Pacific Journalism Review (2012, pp. 214-215):

“I wrote the following in my book Blood on their Banner[1989, pp. 275-278] – the “blood” being that symbolised by the Kanak flag as being shed by the martyrs of more than a century of French rule:

“Mounting tension as the French security forces were built up in New Caledonia to 9500 for the elections finally erupted on Friday, 22 April 1988, two days before the poll. Kanak militants, arguably the first real guerrilla force in the territory, seized a heavily armed Fayaoué gendarme post on Ouvéa, in the Loyalty Islands.

“Armed with machetes, axes and a handful of sporting guns hidden under their clothes, they killed four gendarmes who resisted, wounded five others and seized 27 as hostages.

“They abducted most of their prisoners to a three-tiered caved in rugged bush country near Gossanah in the north-east of the island; the rest were taken to Mouli in the south.

As almost 300 gendarmes flown to Ouvéa searched for them, the militants demanded that the regional elections be abandoned and that a mediator be flown from France to negotiate for a real referendum on self-determination under United Nations supervision. They threatened to kill their hostages if their demands were not met.

“Declaring on Radio Djiido that he was dismayed by the attack, Tjibaou blamed it on the “politics of violence” adopted by the Chirac government against the Kanak people.

“‘The [colonial] plunderers refuse to recognise their subversive lead,’ he said. ‘From the moment they stole our country, they have tried to eliminate everybody who denounces their evil deeds. It has been like that since colonialism began.’

Appeal for calm
“(French President) Mitterrand appealed for calm and a halt to spiral of violence; (Premier) Chirac condemned the ‘savage brutality’ of the attack, claiming the guerrillas were ‘probably full of drugs and alcohol’.

“The guerrillas freed 11 hostages but remained hidden in their Wadrilla cache with the others. Another hostage, who was ill, was later released.

“[French Minister for Territorial Affairs Bernard] Pons portrayed the guerrilla leader, Alphonse Dianou, as a ‘Libyan-trained religious fanatic’. In fact, he had trained at a Roman Catholic seminary in Fiji and was regarded by people who knew him as ‘a reflective man, found of books and non-violent’. He spent hours explaining to his captives why they had been seized.

“At dawn on Thursday, May 5, French military and special forces launched their attack on the Ouvéa cave and killed 19 Kanaks in what was reported by the authorities to be a fierce battle. The hostages were freed for the loss of only two French soldiers.

“If the military authorities were to be believed, their casualties were from the 11th Shock Unit of the DGSE. (This unit was formerly the Service Action squad, used to bomb the Rainbow Warrior in Auckland Harbour on 10 July 1985).

“The assault came just three days before the crucial presidential vote, and hours after three French hostages had been freed in Lebanon following the Chirac government’s reported payment of a massive ransom.

“To top it off, convicted Rainbow Warrior bomber Dominique Prieur, now pregnant, was repatriated back from Hao Atoll to France.

Massacre ‘engineered’

Leaders of the [pro-independence] FLNKS immediately challenged the official version of the attack. Léopold Jorédie issued a statement in which he questioned how the “Ouvéa massacre left 19 dead among the nationalists and no one injured” and the absence of bullet marks on the trees and empty cartridges on the ground at the site”.

Yéiwene Yéiwene insisted that at no time did the kidnappers intend to kill the hostages – ‘this whole massacre was engineered by Bernard Pons who knew very well there was never any question of killing the hostages”. Nidoish Naisseline also condemned the action:

“Pons and Chirac have behaved like assassins. I accuse them of murder. They could have avoided the butchery. They preferred to buy votes of [Nationalist Front leader] Le Pen’s friends with Kanak blood.”

The Ouvéa assault on 5 May 1988.

The following extract sums up claims and counter claims:

According to a later report of Captain Philippe Legorjus, then GIGN leader: “Some acts of barbarity have been committed by the French military in contradiction with their military duty”. In several autopsies, it appeared that 12 of the Kanak activists had been executed and the leader of the hostage-takers, Alphonse Dianou, who was severely injured by a gunshot in the leg, had been left without medical care, and died some hours later. Prior to this report, Captain Philippe Legorjus was accused by many of the GIGN agents who took part in the operation of weaknesses in command and to have had “dangerous absences” (some even said he fled) in the final stages of the case. He was forced to resign from the GIGN after this operation, since nobody wanted him as chief and to fight under him anymore.

The military authorities have always denied the version of events given by Captain Philippe Legorjus. Following a command investigation, Jean-Pierre Chevènement, Minister of Defence of the Michel Rocard government, notes that “no part of the investigation revealed that there had been summary executions”. In addition, according to some participants of the operation interviewed by Le Figaro, no shots were heard on area after the fighting ended.

Legorjus said French Premier Jacques Chirac, who was challenging Mitterrand in the French presidential elections, wanted to stage the assault. And Pons said that he had acted throughout the drama on the orders of Chirac, who believes the “separatist” movement should be outlawed.

Radio NZ on Saturday: “The two-week hostage crisis in 1988 was a turning point in the separatist campaign of the indigenous Kanaks because it ushered in reconciliation talks, which led to the 1988 Matignon Accord.

The Accord and its subsequent 1998 Noumea Accord allowed for the creation of a power-sharing collegial government and the phased and irreversible transfer of power from France to New Caledonia.”

Whatever the truth, the blood of 1988 will stain this territory for a long time yet.

Max Uechtritz is managing director of Kundu Productions Pty Ltd and is republished by Asia Pacific Report with permission. Photos thanks to France TV Outre-Mer and revolutionpermanente.fr

References:
Robie, D. (2012). Gossanah cave siege tragic tale of betrayal. Pacific Journalism Review,  18(2), 212-216.
Robie, D. (1989). Blood on their banner: nationalist struggles in the South Pacific (pp. 275-280). London, UK: Zed Books.

Inside the Gossanah cave on Ouvéa.

Southern Cross radio comment about the Ouvéa visit on 5 May 2018 by President Macron.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Article by AsiaPacificReport.nz

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Murray Horton: Root causes of ‘Pacific’ refugee crisis need to be sorted

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Headline: Murray Horton: Root causes of ‘Pacific’ refugee crisis need to be sorted

Papua New Guinea immigration officials last week started dismantling parts of a prison camp housing hundreds of defiant refugees as an evacuation deadline loomed yesterday. Video: Al Jazeera

OPINION: By Murray Horton of the Aotearoa Independence Movement

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is to be congratulated for trying to do the decent thing by, in her words, “offering to lend a hand” with regards to Australia’s appalling treatment of refugees detained, then abandoned, on Manus Island (not to forget the others detained on Nauru).

Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull tried to swat her away by saying that he has a deal with the US to take the Manus men – I think pigs will fly before Donald Trump honours what he calls “the worst deal ever”, made by Barack Obama.

Nor do I see why there is anything stopping Jacinda from dealing directly with Papua New Guinea. After all, the Manus Island men are being detained in its country and Australia has abandoned them. NZ and PNG are two independent countries, so what’s to stop the two governments sorting out this mess of Australia’s making?

And let’s give credit where credit’s due – the John Key National government made the same offer, namely to take some of the Manus men. It got the same response from Australia. That just goes to show that NZ Tories have got more humanity (in this case, at least) than their Aussie counterparts.

And, to his further credit, Key refused to countenance creating a new category of second class New Zealanders, ones with no rights to travel to Australia. Because that’s why pig-headed Turnbull and co won’t take up NZ’s bipartisan offer.

-Partners-

The excuse given is that the Manus men could then enter Australia through the New Zealand “back door” — i.e. via the free entry allowed to New Zealanders.

That is just so much crap. There is a precedent for New Zealand cleaning up Australia’s refugee mess, namely the Clark government taking in a swag of people from the Norwegian freighter Tampa, which was famously blocked by John Howard in 2001. Not only that, NZ did the decent thing and let their families join them.

‘Back door’ myth
Hands up if you’ve heard of any of those people going to Australia via the “New Zealand back door” and becoming “terrorists”. No, I thought not. Those Tampa refugees made their lives in New Zealand and have become an asset to this country.

Australia needs to hang its head in shame (this crime against humanity has been perpetrated by both Liberal and Labor governments). If you read, heard or saw a news report about civilians imprisoned without charge, trial or hope of release, who were then abandoned without food, water, power or toilets and in imminent fear of attack and/or death by hostile locals, your first reaction would probably be that this was the latest atrocity by ISIS.

And that’s how we need to judge this – Australia is enacting a policy of state terrorism. Its “Pacific Solution” is starting to resemble the Final Solution that Australia and New Zealand fought to defeat in World War Two.

I’ve experienced a little bit of this deprivation myself – no power, water or toilet for several days after the February 2011 Christchurch quake, and it was no fun in a First World society where we had the expectation that somebody would do something about it ASAP. How much worse it must feel then on a Third World island, with no such expectation.

But if our government is serious about “lending a hand”, then it needs to look much further than the (admittedly spectacular) symptoms like Manus Island, and do something about the causes of the global refugee crisis.

Why are these tens of millions of people (of whom only a few hundred are the victims of Australia’s unforgiveable cruelty) fleeing their home countries?

Plenty will be economic refugees, they simply want a better life for their children and themselves. That is a story as old as humanity. That is why several hundred thousand New Zealanders have moved to Australia, after all. It is the same reason why my Australian grandfather moved from Queensland to Wellington – to get a job.

Global poverty, wars
The cause is global poverty and inequality. That’s a very big problem, and tiny little New Zealand can only do so much about that. But we can do our share, and we can start from the recognition articulated by the most unlikely of sources – Winston Peters – that more and more people see capitalism as their foe and not their friend.

He was talking about New Zealanders, so multiply that by the billions of people living at the coalface of global capitalism and you start to get an idea of the scale of the problem. Capitalism is predicated on a few winners and an awful lot of losers.

Not unreasonably, tens of millions of these “losers” want to move to where they think they can join the “winners” (they are bound to be disillusioned by what they discover upon arrival, but that’s another story).

Hand in glove with global poverty as a cause of refugees is war. This is a direct and immediate cause of huge numbers of people fleeing for their lives. There is nothing unusual about people running away from a big disaster, whether man-made or natural – tens of thousands of Christchurch people fled the city in the hours after that February 2011 killer quake (and plenty of them have not come back).

This is an area where the new government can deal with the root cause of the global refugee crisis – get out of other people’s wars that we’re already involved in (such as Afghanistan and Iraq); stay out of the absolute tarpit that is Syria; don’t go haring off after Donald Trump if he goes to war in Korea.

More fundamentally, build on the good work done in the 1980s (which made NZ nuclear free and out of ANZUS) and get out of the Five Eyes spy network and break the remaining military ties that bind NZ to the US Empire. Build a truly non-aligned and independent foreign policy that prioritises peace over war.

There is a direct cause and effect between war and refugees. Our “traditional allies” are very good at creating the mess via war, then expressing indignant surprise when that very same mess comes back to bite them in the bum in the form of a human tide. Libya is a textbook case – NATO military powers, with US assistance, played a vital role in violently overthrowing the Gaddafi regime in 2011 (including being complicit in his being tortured to death).

Even Iraq’s Saddam Hussein got a show trial before his enemies killed him. Funnily enough, Libya has been a failed state ever since and Europe has been inundated with refugees arriving by sea – dead or alive – from Libya. I imagine Gaddafi is laughing in his grave.

‘Charity begins at home’
So, there is self-interest for New Zealand in staying out of other people’s wars and in working to end existing wars and preventing new ones. And for those who say “charity begins at home” – I agree.

We can help our immediate neighbours on tiny Pacific islands that are threatened by inundation due to climate change. These people did nothing to cause that problem but New Zealand certainly did and continues to do – we have an obligation to open our doors to these climate change refugees.

That is not a solution to the problem (at least this government recognises there is a problem and has pledged to do something about it) but it is an amelioration of the dire effects of that problem. Even if we took in all of those affected Pacific islanders, plus the prisoners from Manus and Nauru, it would all only add up to a few thousand people. We bring in more foreigners than that every year to milk them in shonky “education” courses and to supply New Zealand employers with cheap labour.

How about we change the emphasis from bringing people in to exploit and rip them off to bringing them to help them and, as the Tampa experience shows, helping ourselves in the process? Sounds like a win-win to me.

Murray Horton
Spokesperson
Aotearoa Independence Movement (AIM)

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Article by AsiaPacificReport.nz