Supervisor Elham AbolFateh
Editor in Chief Mohamed Wadie

France Bans TikTok, Deploys Troops in Riot-Hit New Caledonia

Thu 16 May 2024 | 10:10 AM
Israa Farhan

In response to escalating violence and civil unrest in New Caledonia, France’s Prime Minister Gabriel Attal announced the deployment of military forces to secure the region's ports and airport on Wednesday.

The move comes alongside a ban on the social media platform TikTok, as the French territory faces severe protests triggered by a proposed constitutional amendment opposed by independence activists.

The High Commissioner of New Caledonia, Louis Le Franc, requested military reinforcements to safeguard Nouméa Airport.

Consequently, a curfew and TikTok ban have been implemented to curb the unrest. 

French President Emmanuel Macron declared a state of emergency in the Pacific archipelago, where riots have resulted in the deaths of four individuals, including a gendarme who was fatally shot in the head.

The French government emphasized the importance of resuming political dialogue in New Caledonia, according to a statement released following an emergency meeting.

The territory, colonized by France in the 19th century, has been experiencing what state representatives describe as a "rebellion" since the initial clashes on Monday during protests advocating for independence.

Violence continued for two consecutive nights, with hundreds injured, including around 100 police officers and gendarmes, as reported by Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin. High Commissioner Le Franc described the situation as "a rebellion."

Despite a curfew in Nouméa, violent incidents persisted into Tuesday night, featuring arson, looting, and exchanges of gunfire, even targeting security forces.

Two individuals were shot in Ducos, northwest of Nouméa, by a mechanic defending his workshop.

In light of the ongoing turmoil, leading political parties in New Caledonia, both pro-independence and otherwise, issued a joint appeal for calm and rational behavior. The statement urged residents to maintain peace and mutual respect amid the chaos.

Sebastian, a 42-year-old resident of Nouméa, shared that he and others have taken on guard duties to protect their city, acknowledging that the police cannot manage everything. "We are trying to protect ourselves, and when things escalate, we notify the police. Each neighborhood is attempting to organize its own armed security," he explained.