By Luc Tutugoro
Wednesday 26 August
Five days ago, the judge in charge of appeals decided to disallow visits to imprisoned Union President Gerard Godard, arrested and sentenced a month earlier while on strike at the Domestic Airport for the sacking of a union member.
Visits from family members were included in the ruling.
He has been accused of obstructing the movement of an aircraft at the domestic airport in Magenta, Noumea – after several protesters sought refuge from GIGN riot police
aboard a disused passenger plane.
The general strike was called by USTKE (Union of Kanak and Exploited workers) after several days of talks with the Airline company Chairman, Niddoish Naisseline.
An accord has been reached between the Union and the chairman after patient negotiations and the union member has been re-instated.
Godard was interviewed behind bars by the French newspaper “Liberation” via a letter questionaire that came and went unnoticed by the prison – and once published – sparked the Judge’s decision to ban further visits.
His interview (in French) is posted here.
This interview highlights his case at length, as well as the very origin of the strike itself – namely, social injustice and a vast inequality gap.
The interview questionnaire also describes publicly for the first time the poor conditions of Noumea’s one and only prison – the East Camp. (CAMP EST).
He claimed the prison was overcrowded and lacked the necessary personal to adaquately function as a prison.
The East Camp is in fact, a fort specially constructed in 1868 to contain the flow of french intellectual revolutionaries called the ‘Communards’ whom were systematically condemned to a life sentence and sent far away from France.
Today a bloody guillotine still remains at the prison as a reminder of that recent past.
This decision by the judge to prohibit visits from members of Godard’s family and from union members came as a great surprise to the union and also to The Labour Party – the political arm of the UTSKE – citing a breach of basic Human Rights.
Political status for Kanaky prisoners is still been denied by French law.