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About the struggle in Notre Dame (des Landes) and its forms: test of perspective

Sunday 30 December 2012

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About the struggle in Notre Dame (des Landes) and its forms: test of perspective

The situation : An airport project is threatening a territory rich in biodiversity, enhanced by generations of farmers, who begins the struggle against this project. Some farmers, some persons continu to live and settle on the area.

On invitations from the previous ones, some abandoned houses, land left fallow are occupied and cultured, some constructions are made, par young and less young persons, with life projects (collective ones or individual). Those projects are including the will of autonomy, state the problems of food production, wage earning, of relation to progress, to institutions, and the willingness of struggle against different forms of domination : sexism, power taking (by monoplizing the word), cop control of the population, repression. What some are summarising in the verbal formula « against the airport and its world » (or « the world that goes with it »). Some are asserts to be antincapitlaists, others rather anarchists... the persons implied are various, and are claiming this diversity.

Facing the airport project, the goal is clearly the defense of a threatened territory, as well this land itself as the persons that chose to live on, in a perfect legitimate way even if its ’illegal’. On april-may, a hunger strike (28 days for the cormade who did it the longest) was, for the strikers, an extreme violence for themselves (without any violence to others), got a respite : be expected that some of the appeals before the eviction of ’legal’ occupants.

Occupation is another relevant answer to defendre this territory. The rebellion and the struggle impose themself facing the agression of the forces of DISorder, under the direction of the prefect, to ’Karcherise’ (*1) the area, meaning expulsing the inhabitants, destroy the houses (and collect the rubble and debris that could be used for the reconstruction) and emptying the area of all the ones that the power in place is qualifying hoarders, terrorists and others vampires.

The case is to lead a struggle, a hard struggle, a resistance, and not to refuge in passivity in the name of any need to respect of legality, in the name of any impotence, or also in the name of ’non-violence’ or ’pacifism’ (which are not the same things!). And i’m not talking of the infamous ’respect of persons and their property’ (i’m systematicly opposing myself to the use of the term), just like it would be possible to put on the same footing the child deaths from the multinationals crimes compared to some material damages in some of their construction sites, here or elsewhere.

Asking the question of the struggle, it’s exposing the one one regarding the force to establish, and the ways to do it.

Many answers are of course possible to those questions, widely debated between Zadists (*2), between the ’historical’ ones or the two compenents together (NB :meaning the ancient squatters and the new ones). Some action modes called ’non-violent’ can be ways for establishing this force ratio : we can recall that the succes of the non-violent action imply in the same time the choice of thematics or claims that can be widely accepted and reappropriated by the population, and the choice of actions modus operanti that can also be widely shared or at least widely supported. The modes of actions have also to avoid inciting hatred, not only or mainly for moral reasons, but also for political reasons : the blind hatred, hatred panics, when we need lucidity and political courage... It’s nethertheless that this modes of action have to be able to compete efficiently toward the goal seeked : it’s to defend an area and it’s inhabitants, not to ’turn the other cheek’ by letting ourselves being crushed.

About the defense of the land, the installation of barricades (including bleds/trenches on the roads / paths, front and back), inflamable dams (wood or hay), has (and always will) for first aim to block the passage of demolition machines,, because they are not preventing the passage of the militants, nor the mobile forces of the government (…). Jets clod of mud, cow dung (although not screened, some were able to contain some pebbles ...), pine cones and other references tear gas on bare hands-equipped robocops on me also published responses do not jeopardize the survival of these, nor even capable to make them undergo serious physical prejudices : the stoning of police vehicle (damage to property, horror!) can also be a way to contribute to the objective. Particular mention the brave climbers (on rooftops et/or trees), or « on trees residents », that led for days an exemplary resistance (in ways little known here), and it’s not finished...

There hasn’t been in my knowledge traps setting (it seem that the MP’s, that i were seeing the first day, when we were waiting for their assault, were knocking in vain the cron around the place called La Gaitée, were searching bear/wolves traps, explosives or mines... around the houses, before intruding them...), also no use of hunting weapons (with bullets for wild pigs for example...) : i have to admit that this would have causes me problem... I add that we are struggling against an invasion of a land that we are occupying, an occupying situation by some external persons (cops or other invadors...) require perhaps the use of other ways of fighting. Our parents had to do formidable choice (*3)...

The violence we have suffered, still relatively unheard/incredible, have only came from the forces of disorder. We exposed ourselves to this violences, in jeans and jackets, without protections, or almost (often lemon juice on the cotton masks and saline, it’s few !). - Psycholigical violences : defamation of people, destruction of the houses, gardens (gassing vegetables ... echo to the gassing of cows of June 2011 ... unbearable for the people taking care of them daily...). - Physical violence : fury to hit militants unable to protect themself (in wells of machines), non-motived gassing, tense fire of stun grenades (causing severe injuries sometimes, see the report form doctor Stephaine L.). Enormous risks the MP and other policemen crowd control units made take enormous risks, in order to evince, to the comrades voluntary placing themself on rooftops and/or trees, all this was to my eyes acts, not order maintaining (NB : ’maintain order’ in french language is synonimous of policing), but acts of civil war, (I mean it). They will have (or already have) to be subject of complaints. - Juridic violences : custodies, sentenced to fines, and now imprisonment (5 months for Cyril) ...

We have reasons to fear this violence. After two decrees authorizing the destruction and expulsion of Châtaigneraie, some journalists asked to a comrade living there if he was scared of what could happen if disorder forces attacked this place : « Yes, and how could it be otherwise, after what we lived, thje injuries we suffered... » he answered.

The enormous work of information led by the website and other internet tools evenually older (Acipa...*4) showed and denounced this violence, popularised the struggle. The different teams implemented (hosting, radio, communication, auto-media, legal and juridic teams, medical...) conmtinue to fully play their rôle (some daily permanences are still assuring between other things to ensure permanence of daily dressings and other injuries on November 24 and 25 ...)

Personally i consider as rather miraculous that, and by the responsability of the Zadists (not the ones of cops!), we didn’t suffer more injuries, and worst ones : I want to greet their physical courage (i already made it pubicly, in front of journalists, by texts) facing the repression. I also want to to underline their reflexion et solidarity in the organisation of the struggle, and the rôle they maintain in this furious violence tsunami against us all : their answers and actions were relevant, tailored to the objectives and in a balance almost impossible to hold.

The population didn’t mistake by the way in the exceptional support that it very quickly and spontaneously gave to the resistance, from warm clothes arriving the very first evening of the evincing of the Vache Rit for the expulsed not having anything dry anymore to wear on, vegetables and other food in abundance, up to reconstruction materials and tools, support that keeps on coming in flow without softening to the sites. A permanence of orientation hasd been organised by the Acipa. Support from all the persons who are participating regulary to care of the clothes (sorting, taking, cleaning, drying, bringing back...). Financial support. Support also thru the huge re-occupation demonstration (demo that neither was a one last stand, symnbolic gesture or any stroll in the countryside, but the participation to the illegal re-occupatio, but perfectly legitimate, of the Chateigneraie, by tens of thousands of persons who for some may have never done any illegal actions before...). Support from hundreds in front of the cops in the Rohanne’s forest the 24th and 25th of november ! Support that in itself participate in the evolution of the force ratio in favor to the resistance, feed it, protect it, gives to it a new dimension. The bead of tractors (tractors, not tanks!) chained the one to the others that are surrounding and now protecting the construction of the Chataigneraie is the symbol and the concrete way of the engagement of the agricultural world way above the concerned villages by the project (the incrustation of the tractors on site for how long as it will be necessary, has been adopted by those who its their working tool, and the mutual aid has set up to overcome this lacks). This bead seem by the way to pose a famous problem : as politic (it more difficult to hit on ’good’ farmers, the power still haven’t understood that its division attempts are not working!) as practical : remove the said tractors, apparently, for now, they do not know how to do... Support again, and with so much enthousiasm, of hundreds (thousands) of people that came to help the protection of this territory, rebuilt it. Support by creation of all those local Collectives (or Commities) Notre Dame, that gathered for the first time here this week-end (NB : 7th and 8th of december) (to the initiative of the Acipa and residents of the ZAD), with the enthousiasm of the already made and to come actions, thinknig together of the creation of future mobilsations. The support to the creation of those commity, the eventual travels for the meetings of creation (to their request) are also actions... non-violent. Support, finally, of all those collectives, coordinations... in france, in Europe and it the world, that are keeping on forging links against the Big Useless Imposed Projects, to put together tehir analysis, think on the previous victories and failures, the victories to come and the modes of struggle to put in place, on the common/mutual support that they can bring to themselves.

The struggle of Notre Dame des Landes has been activated by this movement, and will continue to be, as long as it’s true that we stregthen ourselves in our fights. All this support not only validate the relevance of the defense of the territory and inhabitants of the ZAD, by themselves and by their supporters, but also plural modes of action of this defense.

In view of this, maybe, after the abortion of the airport project, (first step to other victories, because it will thr beginning of other solutions to invent for the land, recultivation...) , will this citizen rebellion keep the image of a fight truly non-violent ? I’m not saying it to monopolize our future ’victory’in the name or to the non-violence, nor to disqualify the commitment of those who assert other philosophical or practice choices. Above our differences, we are sharing the goal of stopping the project, we are fighting togetherf, inventing collectively this actions methods. If an expression of an article (resistance always non-violent) may have shocked some, i hope that this text will will precise ma thoughts, on which i also no absolute certainty ; we can and must continue to discuss on our struggling modes, without the pending of the result of those sharing paralyses us in the mutual action.

What our ennemies didn’t achieve to do, divide us, let’s not do it by ourself !

Geneviève Coiffard-Grosdoy 17 décembre 2012

*1>> karcherising (from the high pressure water cleaning tool) is a quotation regarding an awfully famous sentence of ex-president Sarkozy regarding « cleaning » troublemakers of cities suburbs ghettos). *2>> Zadist is the name for the local squatters, Z-A-D first stand for Zone Layouts Deferred but has been rebaptised Zone To Defend by opposants. *3>> reference to nazi occupation and resistants. *4>> Stands for Citizens Association Intercommunal Populations Affected by the Proposed Airpor