Photo via https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qY0zE1UPV_Y
In January, after 50 years of mobilizations in one of France’s longest environmental campaigns, the proposed Notre-Dame des Landes airport in Western France was cancelled.
This huge success was built by and from the ZAD – (Zone to Defend): a 4000 acre wetland transformed into Europe’s largest open-air utopia and laboratory of alternative ways of living.
But the government sought to take revenge against those who had forced the abandonment of the airport.
On Monday, the French government violently raided the ZAD, using 2,500 riot police to evict 250 residents. They demolished all of the houses on the land that had been protected against the airport.
People around the world are aspiring to find new, just ways of living. But the French government’s message is clear: These experiments will not be tolerated.
But the repression could well backfire. In a statement, the ZAD states “In the context of widening strikes, demonstrations, and occupations throughout France, we believe the razing of ZAD will become the engine of a new revolt.”
From the ZAD Press Release issued following the evictions:
Kept at bay for years by the movement, a new attempt at eviction of the residents of the ZAD at Notre-Dame-des-Landes has begun. Starting at 3 a.m. today, the operation began deploying in all its brutality: Interminable lines of blue police vans, armored vehicles, tear gas, the first injuries and the first arrests. Gendarmes announced that reporters were strictly forbidden “throughout the operation” and blocked their access to the site. They declared that the press was prohibited from taking photos and that the media would have access only to images supplied by the Gendarmerie. The expulsions confirm the government’s pretense of re-establishing the rule of law while in fact grossly flouting the law.
The Prefecture has not even granted the inhabitants of the ZAD access to the minimum guaranteed by the law on the right to housing, in this case the right to individual procedures and the right to contest an eviction decision. Yet the residents of most areas within the ZAD have identified themselves by name on several occasions over the past few years. The Prefecture’s outrageous duplicity is visible today in all its hypocrisy: After announcing it would seek a “serene and peaceful evolution of the situation” it sends 2,500 police/army to destroy residents’ homes. We are told that a selection will be made on the basis of categories that are pure fiction and have no bearing on anything but the needs of the repressive storytelling the government has locked itself into. There is no false division here between radicals on the one hand and farmers on the other; what exists are a number of different and intertwined ways of sharing this land. Contrary to what Gérard Collomb [Minister of Interior] claims, in fact no one has been individually legalized over the recent weeks at the expense of the others. The movement as a whole has proposed a framework for a collective agreement involving all residents and all their projects. But the government could not simply admit that the proposed airport was useless; they were bent on taking revenge against those who had forced the abandonment of the project. The land is dying, the most brutal forms of economic processes are atrophying our lives, and everywhere, people aspire to alternatives to that situation. On February 10 30,000 people had committed to supporting the future of the ZAD. But the government’s political message is very clear this morning: It will allow no possibility for spaces where alternative experiments can take place.
Our anger at the terrible waste the destruction of the houses and living spaces we have built here represents is profound this morning. Our emotion at the idea that the collective experiment that is the ZAD can be endangered by a police/army assault is strong. But the ZAD will not disappear because of this. We live here, we have roots here in this countryside, and we shall not leave it. We salute the courage of the people who have already joined us on the site and have answered our calls. In 2012, the government’s destructive arrogance ultimately turned against it. In the current context of widening strikes, demonstrations, and occupations throughout the country, we believe that the razing of Notre-Dame-des-Landes will become a new engine of a revolt that will take hold. This destructive operation will turn against its perpetrators. We call on all those who can join us now or in the next few days to come to the ZAD. More than 80 assemblies are already planned all over France this evening, including in Nantes and Rennes at 6 PM. The response to these expulsions will also extend over time. A demonstration has been called in Nantes on Saturday and a convergence on the ZAD is being organized for this weekend.
— Zone A Défendre – http://ZAD.nadir.org/