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Posted: septembre 19th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Texts in English | No Comments »

On 23rd November last, near the town of Valognes, towards the northern tip of the Cherbourg peninsula in Normandy, 800 people took it into their heads to delay a train full of nuclear waste, in which action they were successful. For the first time in many years, the French anti-nuclear movement was seeing direct action at a mass level. For the first time in many years, the anti-nuclear movement was speaking without fear, in response to the thousands of Germans who have been blocking the same nuclear-waste train every year for more than twenty years.

This action, in the most densely « atomic » region of the most nuclear country in the world, proved unacceptable to the authorities. Just as the steady drip-feed of « incidents » in power stations and reprocessing plants has always been hushed up, so too has any kind of opposition to the nuclear industry.

Which is why, too, in the same part of northern Normandy, some six months later, police were given free-rein to disperse the anti high-tension wire camp at Montabot. The cost in human terms was twenty-five casualties, five of them serious. Next came a tidal wave of court-cases against nuclear opponents: five charged over the action at Valognes; a mayor (the mayor of Le Chefresne) held on remand, provoking his resignation along with that of his entire municipal council; not to mention many assorted convictions, including one actual prison sentence, for people who taking part in the battle against the Cotentin-Maine high-tension line; and many straight summonses intended to intimidate.

A further trial is to be held at Cherbourg on 9th October 2012. The three defendants are all people who spoke to the media during the action at Valognes. This is an across-the-board first for all political struggles, that the mere fact of answering reporters’ questions should be answerable before the law. The charges are: « direct provocation leading to people assembling to take up arms »; « organizing an illegal demonstration »; and « party to the destruction of private property ».

And what is the evidence to corroborate charges of so serious a nature? Two or three interviews before BFM TV (a news channel), Le Figaro (a national newspaper of a conservative bent) or France Soir (an Internet publication formerly a national newspaper), alleged to establish the defendants as self-proclaimed leaders commanding a flock of sheep-like obedience.

This is not subtle. The intention is that events such as Valognes should not in future be able to be supported by publicly formulated political demands. Those who take part must be seen as thoughtless criminals, irresponsible and crazy. There must always be seen to be leaders, in denial of non-hierarchical modes of organization. The clear expression of any sort of offensive, collective commitment is to be prevented. On our side, the purpose is just that: to provide space for an insolent connection between deed and thinking behind deed.

Beyond the dozy confines of a tribunal, such trials must always seem preposterous. Which is why we are calling for the three defendants to be overwhelmed by the broadest possible support. Why we are asking for you to be present outside the court on the day of the trial.


Support the Valognes Three Collectives

Financial support:

cheques made out to APSAJ, 6 cours des Alliées, 35000 Rennes, France
IBAN FR76 4255 9000 5541 02001473 207 BIC code CCOPFRPPXXX

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