Macron is being pressed to apologize for the nuclear tests carried out in French Polynesia.
As he began his first official journey to French Polynesia, French President Emmanuel Macron was under pressure to apologize for the disastrous effects of decades of nuclear testing.
Macron is to examine the legacy of nuclear testing from 1966 to 1996 as France built atomic weapons, as well as the strategic role of the South Pacific archipelago and the existential threat of rising seas presented by global warming, during his four-day visit.
Residents of the huge archipelago of over 100 islands halfway between Mexico and Australia are hoping Macron apologizes and confirms compensation for radiation victims.
The tests are still a source of profound hatred, as they are perceived as proof of racist colonial views that ignored islanders’ lives.
Macron met hospital personnel fighting Covid-19 after landing Saturday in the semi-autonomous territory, where many people are suspicious of vaccines. Macron’s 2020 trip was postponed owing to the epidemic.
He stated, “I want to make a really strong message to call on everyone to get vaccinated,” adding, “When you’re vaccinated, you’re protected and you seldom, if at all, spread the virus.”
According to a French presidential official who did not want to be identified, Macron will be “encouraging various concrete steps” regarding the legacy of nuclear tests, including the opening of state archives and individual compensation.
At a meeting with delegates from the semi-autonomous region convened by President Edouard Fritch earlier this month, French officials denied any cover-up of radiation exposure.
The discussion came after Disclose, a French investigative website, reported in March that the fallout from the 193 experiments was far more widespread than officials had recognized, citing declassified French military papers.
Since the testing concluded in 1996, just 63 Polynesian citizens have been compensated for radiation exposure, according to Disclose, who estimates that more than 100,000 people may have been poisoned in total, with leukemia, lymphoma, and other malignancies rampant.
Auguste Uebe-Carlson, president of the 193 Association of Nuclear Test Victims, said, “We’re expecting an apology from the president.”
“We anticipate him to say that it was criminal and that it is a sort of colonisation linked to nuclear power here in the Pacific, just as he recognized colonisation in Algeria as a crime.”
Female Polynesians aged 40 to 50, according to Patrick Galenon, former chairman of the territory’s CPS social security system, “had the highest thyroid cancer rates in the world.”
According to him, the CPS spent 670 million euros ($790 million) on treatment. Brief News from Washington Newsday.