“A horror film, there are no other words”, loose Deborah (all first names have been changed), sitting in front of a bowl of tea and some cookies, in the parish hall of Montravel, a popular district of Nouméa. Dressed in a traditional mission dress, this Kanak woman with a gentle face is one of some 130 inhabitants of the Roh tribe, in the north of the island of Maré, in the east of New Caledonia, who were evacuated from their homeland after being the target of a real punitive expedition on November 2.
The words jostle, the gaze is lost and the hands embrace at the evocation of this evening during which, with a dozen members of her family – children, grandchildren, brothers and sisters-in-law – Deborah nestled in a rock cavity. “We stayed there crammed maybe from 6 pm to midnight. I didn’t dare turn on my cell phone for fear of being spotted ”, she confides. From her hiding place, she could hear the cries, the insults, the stone rains and the destruction with machetes and sabers. “They had come to kill us. They were at least a hundred and fifty, maybe two hundred, mostly drunk ”, testifies at his side Maurice, who also “All abandoned behind [lui], apart from two knits ”.
The assailants, some of whom were from Roh and others from nearby tribes, set fire to ten homes, six cars, a boat and a guesthouse with four bungalows. On social networks, images of houses on fire and men armed with sticks and throwing stones circulated, illustrating the outburst of violence that shook this island of 5,700 inhabitants with sumptuous landscapes.
Storekeeper in a grocery store, Maurice does not count ” go home [lui] before ten or fifteen years “, like his peers, all of whom now consider themselves “Banned from [leur] Isle “. “It’s clan cleansing, they ransacked everything. It’s a miracle that no one was hurt ”, continues the fiftieth with the beard pepper and salt, annoyed, while the attackers “Are people we know, allied clans”.
“Wash the honor” of the great chef
Dispatched there at the request of the High Commissioner of the Republic, some sixty-four mobile gendarmes and nine gendarmes from the National Gendarmerie Intervention Group (GIGN) allowed the exfiltration of the besieged families. Two flights of the company Air Calédonie were then chartered to shelter them in Nouméa, where the population and associations increased the number of essential donations. The prosecution has opened an investigation for “Deliberate destruction of property by fire or means dangerous to persons” and “Willful violence with a weapon”.
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