18 Apr 2013

Documents show Britain thought about sending soldiers into Vanuatu in 1975 to prevent unrest

3:49 pm on 18 April 2013

Declassified secret documents show how Britain and France were prepared to land military forces in Vanuatu in 1975 to prevent ethnic unrest.

Colonial officials wanted to stop what they thought might become a revolution to overthrow white supremacy.

Ben Lowings reports from London.

"In 1975, a British Black Power activist, Roosevelt Brown, was holed up with his supporters in the Vanuatu national party on the northern island of Aoba. British colonial officials had at first let him into the country believing him to be a United Nations employee on holiday. They soon changed their minds, considering him a subversive, who was likely to resist their attempts to arrest him. They called for backup - which in the event, was not required. The Ministry of Defence in London drew up detailed plans to despatch a warship, a landing party, transport planes and soldiers from Hong Kong. But officials were worried about whether Indonesia and the Philippines would allow the use of their airspace. They also feared French forces in Vanuatu had equipment incompatible with the British military. It was also suspected that the French were much more eager to use lethal force."