Pacific News Minute: France Committed to Compensating Victims of Nuclear Testing

Jul 4, 2017

Moruroa Atoll
Credit Wikimedia Commons

This week, anti-nuclear activists in French Polynesia mark a grim anniversary. Fifty-one years ago, France exploded the first of 193 nuclear bombs at Moruroa Atoll. Amid memorial masses and protest marches, the president of the territory reported a breakthrough on long-running compensation claims. We have more from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute.

French Polynesian President Edouard Fritch announced that France will immediately reconsider compensation claims which had previously been rejected. Until 2010, France maintained that no one suffered from its tests, but even after that policy changed Paris required such onerous burdens of proof that almost all claims were denied. According to a letter Fritsh sent to the heads of three test victims organizations, Annick Giardin, Overseas Mininster in the new government of Emanuel Macron, said that France is now committed to issue compensation.

Last week, the pro-independence opposition, which is closely linked to the anti-nuclear movement, launched a drive to take France before the United Nations Human Rights Commission in Geneva. Richard Tuheiava of the Tavini Hui ra’atrira told Radio New Zealand International that Emmanuel Macron inspired the drive, with a campaign speech in Algeria where he described colonialism as a crime against humanity. France conducted nuclear tests in Algeria before shifting to the South Pacific.

With final results from National assembly elections now in, a pro-independence candidate won one of French Polynesia’s three seats. As expected, anti-independence candidates took the other two seats in French Polynesia and both seats in New Caledonia. Leftist Napole Polutele retained his seat from Wallis and Futuna without a run off.