Hybrid-format event on decolonization and role of communication held

A round table discussion and press conference in a hybrid format was arranged on Thursday on the topics "Decolonization, international diplomacy and the role of communication in the modern world”, with the participation of a group of journalists, well-known bloggers and civil society activists from different African countries, as well as journalists from New Caledonia.

The event included two panel discussions focusing on international security, diplomacy, the role of effective communications and decolonization, and themes on New Caledonia as an example of colonialism in the modern world.

Addressing the event, Executive Director of the Baku Initiative Group Abbas Abbasov underlined that the French government's recent violation of fundamental human rights in New Caledonia is a further evidence of Paris government`s lack of political will to implement the UN General Assembly resolutions regarding decolonization.

Abbasov emphasized the fundamental right to self-determination and reiterated the Baku Initiative Group's support for those striving for a brighter and dignified future for their people.

"The Baku Initiative Group will continue to support the Kanak people's struggle for independence. We express our full solidarity with the Kanak people and support their fair struggle against the expansion of voter ranks. We also demand the repeal of the amendments proposed by the French authorities. We call on France to stop its neo-colonial policy and ensure Kanak people’s right to self-determination,” Abbasov stressed.

The conference’s purpose is to raise global awareness about widespread human rights violations in New Caledonia and other French colonies, and to discuss joint cooperation in the field of communication with respect to fight against neo-colonialism - the new phase of colonialism still ongoing in Africa.

The event highlighted the violence by French security forces against peaceful protests by indigenous Kanak people in New Caledonia, which has resulted in significant civilian casualties, with more than 10 civilians killed and hundreds injured and arrested.

The French government’s decision to shut down access to New Caledonia and impose an illegal curfew has grossly violated the fundamental rights of the Kanaks—the island's original inhabitants. Their freedom of expression and opinion has been severely restricted to conceal the atrocities committed by French police and gendarmerie from the world community.

The Baku Initiative Group arranged the hybrid press conference to break the information blockade and allow local officials to report on the situation on the island.

Speaking to the event, Permanent Secretary for Exterior Relations of New Caledonia Mickaël Forrest emphasized that New Caledonia is experiencing a crisis and a critical period on the political level, due to France's remilitarization of the country, which is having a negative impact on the population of New Caledonia from a psychological and social point of view. Forrest provided an insight into the colonial policy and crimes committed by France against New Caledonia, highlighted his country's struggle for independence, the obstacles created by France on this path, blocking the ongoing negotiations and settlement process.

“For small people like us, with a colonial past, it is always important to be able to talk about ourselves, to say who we are and how we are doing. In general, we are a territory colonized by France,” said M. Forrest. He also spoke about colonial policies and crimes committed by France against New Caledonia, his country’s struggle for independence, the obstacles created by France on this path, by blocking the ongoing negotiations and settlement process.

Maurice Pindard, a member of the Decolonization and Social Emancipation Movement of French Guiana, stated that France continues to commit colonial crimes and acts of genocide.

“France continues its policy of neo-colonialism by all means. The territories that France controls outside of Europe are the hideous remnants of the French colonial empire. France does not respect the rights of the people of New Caledonia, including those living in its other overseas communities and territories," he emphasised. Pindard described the colonial policy of France as involving the looting of natural resources, exploitation, violence and environmental degradation in various territories, constituting a dark page in history.

Pindar also expressed gratitude to Azerbaijan, the Baku Initiative Group, for organizing the round table and raising awareness about the colonization issue.

At the conclusion of the event, participants responded to questions from representatives of the Azerbaijani media. It was reported that France has also restricted the rights of media representatives in New Caledonia. Specifically, France is curtailing freedom of speech and the practice of independent journalism in the country.

Representatives from Azerbaijan, New Caledonia, Burundi and other African countries joined the panel discussions.

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