Waves of anger across the Pacific

ROBERT MILLIKEN

Sydney

France caused fresh outrage in the South Pacific yesterday after it carried out its second underground nuclear test. It dashed any remaining hopes that the protests which swept the world after the test last month would change the mind of the government in Paris.

The test happened within hours of French commandos seizing and taking into custody the Manutea, a Greenpeace yacht. It was the last of four vessels Greenpeace has lost to French raids around Mururoa atoll, where the first in the series of tests took place, and Fangataufa since early last month.

Unlike two of the earlier seizures, Rainbow Warrior II and Vega, the Manutea was outside the 12-mile (20km) military exclusion zone when the commandos boarded it. French military authorities said the arrest was justified because an inflatable craft had been launched into the prohibited zone from the Manutea. Lynette Thorstensen, the Greenpeace campaign director in Tahiti, denied this, and claimed the craft came from another vessel among the international peace flotilla.

Oscar Temaru, leader of Tavini Huiraatira, the Polynesian Liberation Front, the main independence party in French Polynesia, said he had hoped the international outrage and the riots in Tahiti which followed the 5 September test might have persuaded President Jacques Chirac to abandon the rest of what is scheduled to be seven or eight tests up to May.

"My feeling today is more one of pain than anger," he said. "We had confidence in the human being of Jacques Chirac, but for the second time he has allowed his animal instinct to take over. Mururoa and Fangataufa are part of Polynesian heritage. A Polynesian has three symbols in life: land, sea and air. The French have destroyed all three. It's like losing a family member again."

The French military surprised everyone by taking the unusual step of conducting the latest test on a Sunday, strictly observed as a day of worship among Polynesians, more than 80 per cent of whom are Christians. Tahiti was deserted, with most Polynesians attending church or at home. It may have been a tactical move to pre-empt a repetition of last month's violence, when 3,000 young Polynesians burned and looted the airport and shops in Papeete, the capital.

More than 1,000 gendarmes and riot police patrolled Papeete last night. They were backed by almost five times the number of police who struggled to control the September riots. Tension was high in Papeete, but anti- nuclear and pro-independence leaders called for restraint.

Australia and New Zealand called in the French ambassadors yesterday to protest. Jim Bolger, New Zealand's Prime Minister, kept the ambassador waiting 15 minutes for a meeting lasting 10 minutes.

Mr Bolger said later: "It's just so much waste because there's no French person alive, from the French President down, who could suggest in any rational way which time and in what circumstances they would use a nuclear weapon and against whom."

Paul Keating, Prime Minister of Australia, said it would be "unceasing and unrelenting" in efforts to press France to abandon the tests.

After a meeting in Canberra with Bob McMullan, the acting Foreign Minister, Dominique Girard, the French ambassador, said he had refused to apologise for the tests. "We're doing what we're doing in a most reasonable way with the utmost precaution. So we have nothing to apologise about."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
Lena Dunham posing for an official portrait at Sundance 2015
people
Arts and Entertainment
Under the skin: Sarah Kane in May 1998
theatreThe story behind a new season of Sarah Kane plays
Arts and Entertainment
Preening: Johnny Depp in 'Mortdecai'
filmMortdecai becomes actor's fifth consecutive box office bomb
Sport
Bradford City's reward for their memorable win over Chelsea is a trip to face either Sunderland or Fulham (Getty)
football
News
Lars Andersen took up archery in his mid thirties
video
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Operations & Logistics Manager

£38000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's best performing...

Recruitment Genius: GeoDatabase Specialist - Hazard Modelling

£35000 - £43000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our award-winning client is one...

Recruitment Genius: Compressed Air Pipework Installation Engineer

£15000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of Atlas ...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Coordinator - Pallet Network

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Opportunity to join established...

Day In a Page

Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea