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Posted: septembre 19th, 2012 | Author: valognes | 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.
ALL MEET: 9TH OCTOBER: 10 am
Support the Valognes Three Collectives
cheques made out to APSAJ, 6 cours des Alliées, 35000 Rennes, France
IBAN FR76 4255 9000 5541 02001473 207 BIC code CCOPFRPPXXX
Posted: septembre 18th, 2012 | Author: valognes | Filed under: Texts in English | No Comments »
In November 2011, the Valognes-Stop-Castor collective issued a call for action to disrupt nuclear industry routine. This specified that a camp would be set up for people wanting to help block a Castor freight train, (Castor stands for « cask for storage and transport of radioactive material »), en route from the reprocessing factory at La Hague at the northern tip of Normandy to the nuclear waste storage site at Gorleben in Germany, where tens of thousands of activists awaited, as they had done every year for the past twenty or so.
Like the three defendants standing trial at Cherbourg on 9th October 2012, several hundred of us answered this call and travelled to the northern tip of Normandy, known as the Nuclear Peninsula, with the intention of taking part in a concrete act of opposition to the nuclear industry. At that time, the struggle against nuclear power seemed to have reached a standstill. Facile slogans; repetitive, dully ritual demonstrations; unofficial scientific experts pitched against official scientific experts to no effect; derisory alternative energy proposals… Over the years, the anti-nuclear movement had morphed into a marketing exercise.
Then Fukushima happened. That disaster came as a reminder that the most horrendous aspects of nuclear energy are its « sustainable » dispossession of human living conditions and its capacity for stifling aspirations to freedom. What do you call life with a dosimeter or a Geiger counter strung round your neck?
By making the routine nature of nuclear waste transport visible, the action at Valognes was designed to remind us that, especially in northern Normandy1, the nuclear industry holds ordinary people under a point-blank threat. It was also intended to show that it is possible to draw on a tradition of collective and public direct action such as the anti-nuclear movement once aimed at power station building sites (at Plogoff in Brittany, Chooz in the French Ardennes, Golfech in Gascony; against the Superphénix fast breeder reactor at Creys-Malville, at Le Carnet and of course at Flamanville just nearby).
One consequence was that the camp at Valognes set out to dispel police and media clichés about masked hooligans and to publicize the nature of its actions as widely as possible. But the spectacular nature of the event was a trap. We slipped from organizing a public meeting to issuing a press release; from talking to local papers to appearing on national evening news. And in the process of explaining what we were to doing, we moved into advertising it. This slippage produced a need for spokespeople. Three people were landed with having to do this awkward job. And so were propelled into the heart of a facile, stupid-making system, under which the success of a political undertaking and the very existence of a political movement are judged according to the extent of media coverage generated.
Media exposure led to TV images, which the law is now using as evidence that the movement’s spokespeople are its leaders – and that it has leaders. The State Prosecutor’s argument is as follows: the space occupied by the defendants in the media correlates with their leadership role in the Valognes-Stop-Castor collective, making them responsible for setting up the camp and for coordinating various in-situ actions that the law classifies as misdemeanours. In order to establish its case and in order to manufacture the three defendants it needs, the judiciary has atomized our movement. It has set up scapegoats, as it does daily throughout France in every law court. The purpose is not really to criminalize the public expression of a political argument, but to protect private property and the interests of the State. Nothing new beneath the green sun of a society that is among other things a nuclear one. In this instance, French Railways are claiming reimbursement of 163,000 euros worth of damage to a railway line. And the French State, a world-class producer and exporter of nuclear energy, wants to be able to go about its flourishing trade as peacefully as it always has, with an obedient public standing by.
Valognes was an attempt to bust out of the bunker. It was meant to be a start. A few months later, a meeting held at Le Chefresne, a few dozen miles south in the same department of La Manche, invited anti-nuclear activists to join an established resistance movement against the new Cotentin-Maine high-tension line. This time, the repression was brutal. Serious casualties. One three-month prison sentence, without suspension. Since which, a succession of participants in Le Chefresne Assembly meetings been charged.
These charges are clearly a response to the many disruptions against pylon building sites in recent months, and more especially since the action at Valognes… Our collective attempts at organizing have not slowed the nuclear industry’s steamrolling and the new French government is in no way less arrogant than its predecessor.2 But our actions have established the premises for renewed opposition to nuclear power in France. One of these premises is « citizens » organizations and their illusions must be excluded. Another is that the State cannot be recognized as as a valid interlocutor for negotiating an end to nuclear power in France. Finally, we know that our focus on horizontal, hierarchical decision-making processes is what made collective direct action possible.
Neither the provincial theatre of the courthouse nor the pace of the law can compel us to forget the basis of what was done at Valognes, in a part of France shot through with cancer, undermined by the unsaid, where, more than anywhere else, the nuclear industry provides people with both a living and a dying.
In solidarity with the all defendants in the Nuclear Peninsula, this is a call to meet outside the law courts in Cherbourg in support of the Valognes Three, so that their trial is thrown open to wider debate and does not remain hidden away behind the closed doors of the law.
Collective supporting those charged in the Nuclear Peninsula
Posted: novembre 6th, 2011 | Author: valognes | Filed under: Sur les rails, Texts in English | No Comments »
Demo Thursday, 24 November at 11am
Camp 22-24 November, 2011
1. A coup won’t be enough.
After the Fukushima disaster, the fury of the French pro-nuclear lobby leads to a total denial of reality. The lobby is convinced that they are the finest and the best, and that they have a major part to play against all the other nuclear nations: they have the best know how for everything concerning nuclear power. Whilst other countries feel forced to take into account the major risks and deal with their
public opinion, France continues as if nothing has happened. Despite a situation which should weaken the nuclear industry it is clear that their power and arrogance are not seriously shaken; the industry is expanding even further.
The economic and industrial outlook for Areva is focused in the Cotentin area of France with the EPR and the High Voltage line, waste reprocessing, etc.. Faced with the enormity of the nuclear industry we can act directly on its doorstep. The trains, which from the Hague spread the radioactivity all over Europe are an opportunity to harass the industry as the Germans have done for many years.
Let’s be clear, if the actions will try to effectively blockade the nuclear waste going back to their senders, we’re not pushing at all for it to stay in la Hague. A single action with the aim to block the CASTOR train is obviously not enough to really block the industry, but this time must be used to construct a movement both locally and internationally, a relentless harassment of this industry until they stop.
2. Stop the nuclear industry.
The last thirty years, with few exceptions, opposition to the nuclear industry stuck to a symbolic confrontation, made of lobbying and calls for parliamentary democracy.
To have a chance, we must break with habits we are used to while falling asleep in the daily nuclear grind. Let’s become an artisan in stopping nuclear. Disrupting the construction site of the Very High Voltage line, Disrupting the daily routine of radioactive waste is an effective contribution to undermine the development of the nuclear industry. North Cotentin sites are one frontline of this battle. It is up to
us, to be organised, to make it visible and effective. The weakening and stopping of the nuclear industry does not just play on our ability to materially affect its interests. Discard arrogance and unquestioned evidence of its presence in our lives is definitely what we can achieve now.
3. First steps.
Practically the objective of 24 Nov. rally in Valognes is to move collectively towards the tracks and to try and occupy them. The precise locations of the assembly point for the rally and of the camp will be announced only days before the end of November to hamper the police as much as possible. This can only work if we are several hundred. Beyond this attempt to block determined mobilisation against nuclear power is what will make it a success. Particularly aware of the difficulty for many to make available these three days mid-week, this mobilisation should not stick to a presence in Valognes. Public meetings should be held wherever possible.
Nuisance actions as well as symbolic support to the Valognes camp can be organised right now. It is also possible for organisations/groups to take part in signing the call-out on the collective blog (valognesstopcastor.noblogs.org).
Through this call-out which is a process that has only just begun, we hope to build relationships of trust so that we can multiply these actions of harassment. To create an opposition movement based on a horizontal operation. Specifically, the three-day camp designed as much to allow us to anticipate an early departure of the train as to take the time to think collectively as a result, the different practices
of thinking and set them in motion. Aware of the practical difficulties of organising a camp on the edge of winter in those sweet regions, we will provide shelter, food and heat (bring tents anyway).
For this camp to be more comfortable we are in your hands, equipment and proposals, and the blog as well as email should allow us to stick together/keep in touch.
4. Have control over our lives.
By the concrete action of self-organisation, we want to do without having to entrust our future to a delegation nor to rely on electoral illusions that are sure to revive the spirits in the coming months. This is all well to create a balance of power, to have taken over our lives. A struggle against the nuclear industry can not stick to the goal of its elimination. The horror of nuclear disasters is as much about what it creates than the daily management of the people it involves. It is first in that the stop nuclear work is one of a craftsman. Because it is only
through this that we can at once be able to experience the wealth of a takeover of our lives, and provide the means to undermine the rationale for a world in need of nuclear power.
One strategy could be to re-focus the existence of the nuclear industry through the questioning of the power relationship that has thrived for years, while it shows the reality of denial.
By allowing individuals to put themselves in a position to deal with conditions that are made, the interest of the camp might be to break the “hum drum” citizen acceptance of this relationship of domination, to introduce the real challenge for people seeking to break the cycle of deprivation.
The Valognes Stop CASTOR Collective
Posted: octobre 13th, 2011 | Author: valognes | Filed under: Sur les rails, Texts in English | No Comments »
INVITATION FOR A BIG CAMP AND MASS ACTION AGAINST THE NUCLEAR TRANSPORT CASTOR IN VALOGNES (FRANCE) FROM 22ND TO 24TH NOVEMBER 2011, JUST ACROSS THE CHANNEL
The french and the english government have this common feature of being mad about nuclear power. Whereas Germany, Switzerland and Italy are stepping out of the nuclear energy, France and Great-Britain are doing as if Fukushima never happened. If we refuse to let Fukushima become, like Tchernobyl before, an accident without consequence, it is time to take action, NOW.
More than ever, it is obvious that it is only on an international level that we can think the struggle against nuclear power, because it is on this level that the contradiction between the states that step out of it and those who don’t becomes explosive. As our aim – to free ourselves of those who destroy our lives and everything alive for the last money left to make – can in no way be achieved by them, as all the governments can do is greenwash their tools of destruction, we should use this moment to make it clear that we still envision a future. For it is not only the question of energy that we are determined to take back in our own hands but our lives. That is why we invite all british comrades to join our initiative right on the other side of the Channel, in Valognes (near Cherbourg) from 22nd to 24th november 2011.
On these dates starts the CASTOR transport of highly radioactive refutes that goes from La Hague to Gorleben (Germany). This year for the first time, in coordination with the German comrades, there will be a camp and mass action in order to block this transport at its very starting point, in Valognes, just like the Germans do it in Gorleben.
LET’S MEET THERE AND DISTURB LIKE NEVER BEFORE THE QUIET ROUTINE OF THIS DEADLY INDUSTRY!