TikTok Ban Lifted in New Caledonia as State of Emergency Ends

Alex Sterling
Alex Sterling
4 Min Read

France has lifted the ban on the TikTok social media app in New Caledonia, two weeks after it was imposed to curb the spread of rioting. The decision follows the end of a state of emergency, which was declared due to heightened tensions and protests by indigenous Kanaks over proposed electoral reforms.

The recent unrest in the tiny French-Pacific territory, located between Australia and Fiji, has resulted in seven deaths and hundreds of injuries. The French government had suggested that TikTok was being used to spread disinformation and accused Beijing and Azerbaijan of interfering in the crisis. Many TikTok users circumvented the ban by using VPNs to access the app from outside New Caledonia.

Despite ongoing protests and an overnight curfew remaining in place, the French government chose not to extend the state of emergency on Tuesday. France has deployed around 3,500 security personnel to maintain order, and the international airport in Nouméa, the capital, will remain closed until at least Sunday. Tensions have eased since President Emmanuel Macron visited the archipelago and assured that no reforms to New Caledonia’s voting system would be imposed without consent.

New Caledonia, home to approximately 300,000 people including 112,000 indigenous Kanaks, has been at the center of this conflict. The French high commission in Nouméa stated on Wednesday that the continued presence of police and gendarmes has helped restore calm, allowing the TikTok ban to be lifted.

- Advertisement -

The ban, unprecedented in France, was criticized by several groups as an attack on freedom of communication and information. However, authorities argued that TikTok had been used to incite violence and spread hatred. French MP Claude Malhuret emphasized the issue of foreign interference, stating, “It’s time to end our state of denial – we have to protect ourselves from it.”

TikTok Ban
Censorship of Tik Tok” by A09 is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

France specifically accused Azerbaijan of supporting separatists in New Caledonia by disseminating misleading images on social media. Azerbaijan denied these allegations and accused France of “neo-colonialist policies.”

Among the seven casualties in the unrest were two gendarmes. Additionally, French World Cup winner Christian Karambeu revealed that his niece and nephew were among the deceased. He expressed hope for thorough investigations into these murders during a radio interview.

By not extending the state of emergency beyond the initial 12 days, the French government aims to further de-escalate tensions and encourage protesters to remove roadblocks, which is essential for “concrete and serious” negotiations to commence.

The pro-independence group behind the protests, CCAT, has shown no sign of ending the demonstrations completely. A recording of its president, Christian Tein, surfaced, in which he stated, “80 years of colonial economy has been brought to its knees… there’s no question of strongly loosening our grip.”

Meanwhile, the main pro-independence group, FLNKS, demands the repeal of France’s controversial voting reforms. The National Assembly in Paris recently proposed granting voting rights to French residents who have lived in the territory for ten years. Since 1998, voting in provincial and assembly elections in New Caledonia has been restricted to those who were residents at that time, despite the arrival of more than 40,000 French nationals since then.

Follow us on Google News

Share This Article
Leave a comment

Leave a Reply