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vendredi 26 décembre 2014

The pyres of Faaite (2)





Monette, a survivor testifies

In a previous article titled "When heaven becomes hell," I told you the tragedy that struck the small Faaite atoll in the Tuamotu Archipelago, French Polynesia.

What follows is the first part of a story that has three sequences. A story which, as you will see, raises more questions than it answers. But also a story that introduces us to a being unusual. A being for whom the words love and forgiveness have a sense that few of us are able to give them.

Saved from burning alive on the stake by the arrival of the gendarmes, Monette Tetahivi brings a moving testimony on the case of "the pyres of Faaite".

When the policemen arrived on the atoll, the  report says, four women were tied up and doused with gasoline, ready to be sacrificed. Monette Tetavahi was one of them.

Human sacrifices: the battle of Missionaries
As anyone who lived through these events from ''within', Monette has always been silent on this incredible deal. Today, plagued by memories of the tragedy, she decided to talk to tell his truth about what happened to her during those fatal days of September 1987.

For reasons best known of herself, it's to me that she has chosen to give the exclusivity of her testimony.

The happy years of Monette at Faaite
"I left my island of Tahiti to follow my tane (partner) who was from Faaite. I was 19 when we got on his atoll. We had four children together. He was a man very hardworking, a good father for our children, and he was a good husband to me. I was really happy on Faaite, it was like a Garden of Eden for me...

Monette Tetavahi, survivor of "the pyres of Faaite"
(Here Monette weeps bitterly, crying buckets, citing what she  presents as the best years of his life.)

“... We had lived wonderful eight years together. Five at Tahiti where we first met and three on Faaite (...)”.

The three priestesses of the Charismatic Renewal
“Everything changed in a few days. Three women came from Tahiti, Sylvia Alexander Rahera Teanuanua and Avehina Tekurarere. They were representatives of the Charismatic Renewal movement. My husband went back and collected them from Fakarava because he had the only large boat of Faaite that could make this journey safely. (...)

“They were sent on a mission to our homes by Bishop Hubert Coppenrath (in 1987, he was the priest in charge of the movement for the diocese, Ed). At the time, to Faaite if our Bishop or priest told us something, we did not discuss. It's not that we were afraid, but we did everything they told us (...).

The location of the pyre before the church of Faaite
“Upon arrival at Faaite, the three women have established (started up) "charismatic prayers." Although we could see there were abnormal things, but as they were recommended by His Lordship Coppenrath, nobody said anything and we all did as they wanted (...).

“For example, prayer sessions are taking place in our homes, not in church. One day, it was held at  home, but it did not ask me anything. I was not even notified. They agreed and they said everyone "It's at Monette's," and everyone came to my home (...).

“They told us to burn our prayer books, because there were things wrong in them. Even the Bible and the Gospels (...). I was not okay, so I'd hidden my Bible and my prayer books; then I took all my newspapers ( Paris Match and everything I had) and  these are  that I  burned (...).

“My husband noticed it and, for the first time, he was violent with me (...).

“Even when I went to see him in prison later, he always said he did not remember anything and he never touched me. Yet even my children remember (...).

“One day when I left the church, I heard them talking with young people. They said them: "You should not trust the politicians and elected officials. These people are "tiaporo" (devils, demons). They are more dangerous than "tupapau" (ghosts) "(...).


The memorial at the site of the pyres of Faaite


“After a few days, prayers were held throughout the day. When we were finished in a house, we had to immediately go to someone else's and start over. All day without stopping (...). In the evening he had even pray in the dark: they prohibited us to light (...).

“We were a few not to be okay, but not much. The mayor was in Tahiti, but the first deputy was there, and he thought like me and a few others. But as Monsignor Coppenrath sent the women, and  everyone seemed to agree, it was decided to say anything (...).


“Normally, they came for three days, but finally they remained two weeks. As time went on, they took the youth and my husband aside and spent time talking with them. And the more they spoke with them, the more prayers sessions became severe and the atmosphere in the village was getting weird. People were not speaking as before. As if we had become sad and we were suspicious of each other.

“After two weeks they went away. My husband took them back with his boat, him and a group of some young people. I don't know what happened during this trip, but when they returned to Faaite, they were different. I no longer recognized my husband nor the young people who were with him.

“It's as if I no longer existed for him. He spoke only to me to give me orders and criticizing me because I did not want to worship the Virgin Mary. But what I learned in church, me is that we can’t worship the Virgin. We love only God and the Eucharist... "


An article of Julien Gué
Translated from French by Monak

To find out how Monette Tetahivi lived "The slaughter of the innocents", click here.


Copyright Julien Gué. Ask for the author’s agreement before any reproduction of the text or the images on Internet or traditional press.




2 commentaires :

  1. en cette période de grande foie cultuelle commerciale de la Noël occidentale locale, je ne sais pas si cet article tombe à pic pour aider la promotion touristique de ce coin de paradis ...

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  2. Bien au contraire c parfait! Si Tahiti est débarrassée des religions ce serait un paradis.
    Au lieu de cherche a u=y construire une mosquée ce serait plus judicieux d'en faire le seul coin de Terre ou aucune religion n'y aurait un pouvoir quelconque!

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