20 Oct 2003

Kanak hut at centre of protest in New Caledonia destroyed

4:14 pm on 20 October 2003

The traditional hut at the centre of a land dispute in Tontouta, near Noumea in New Caledonia, has been destroyed.

The hut was built illegally a month ago on privately-owned land by trade union USTKE protestors.

The protestors were occupying the land in relation to a separate conflict with a mining company in connection with a dispute over wages and conditions.

The order to destroy the hut was given after the landowner took the case to court.

An USTKE spokesperson said the protestors were shocked when the hut was bulldozed into the nearby Tontouta river.

He says the French High Commissioner, Daniel Constantin, had assured them only last Friday that the hut would remain for the time being.

But Mr Constantin said everyone had to respect the court decision.