Update : For infos in English, see site of the US support committee for the Tarnac 9, featuring a ‘Letter from the parents of the Tarnac nine’. “When all the media come together in a cacophony of lies to slander a handful of young people currently languishing in jail it is very difficult to find the right tone with which to call an end to this racket and make room for a little truth. Many journalists bent over backwards to confirm the statements of the Minister of the Interior, even while the raids were still taking place. Those arrested were assumed to be guilty from the outset…”
On 11 November 1887 the prison in Illinois is preparing for the execution of Parsons, Spies, Fischer, and Engel, the Haymarket anarchists. The Haymarket Affair started in May 1886 when a mass meeting was held in the Chicago Haymarket in the course of a strike for the eight-hour workday. When the police ordered the protest meeting to disperse, a bomb was thrown by an unknown person, killing several officers. Four [sic] anarchists were accused. The drawing in Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper shows the scaffold, complete with a trap door. The balcony outside the cells was on the same level. At the back was a large box in which the hangman waited to release the rope for the trap door. At the execution Parsons could not be prevented from speaking his last words: “Let the voice of the people be heard!”
French company Connex — a fully-owned subsidiary of Veolia Environnement — owns and manages Melbourne’s rail system: part of Melbourne’s shitful, ever-deteriorating public transport system. In addition to transport, Veolia owns water — lots of water. In fact, Veolia is the world’s largest water company; in 2007, it had revenues of $47bn and employed around 300,000 people.
The French corporate sector has a thing for transport, and the French state has a thing for anarchists — to be precise, the “anarcho autonomous milieu” — especially those who tamper with the mandate to destroy the ecology the state gives the corporations which dominate the ‘public’ transport system.
The thoroughly depressing Tory Government of Jeff Kennett began the privatisation of Melbourne’s public transport system — with the grudging cooperation of the ALP and its union — in the early ’90s: that is, within a few short years of a small revolt by tram workers who for one day placed the system under workers’ self-management.
- “The 1990 tramways dispute is one of many industrial disputes in which rank and file unionists displayed the courage and daring to take control of their working situation. Workers’ self-management raised its head for a week or two. In this dispute, like many others, the union bosses sold out their members, through a deal done with the State Labor government. But the real story is how a small group of militants succeeded for a few years in setting the agenda among rank and file workers in the public transport industry in Melbourne.”
The period immediately prior to this witnessed the elimination of large numbers of jobs (train guards, tram conductors, station staff) and the introduction of a new ticketing system, the attempted closure of unprofitable lines, and a range of other measures intended to prepare the ground for privatisation and corporatisation.
And corporations like Connex.
In France, on November 11, 121 years after the US state executed four anarchists for a crime they did not commit, ten radicals were arrested by French ‘anti-terrorist’ squads. Those arrested have been accused of various crimes against property — in this instance, high-speed rail networks.
French police arrest anarchists for train sabotage
November 11, 2008
French police raided alleged anarchist cells in three cities on Tuesday and arrested at least 10 suspects following a series of sabotage attacks on the country’s high-speed rail network. Interior Minister Michele Alliot-Marie said police intelligence officers had been investigating an “ultra-left anarchist movement” for several months and had acted following the weekend’s disruption of train services. “We found that this ultra-left movement has links in five European countries and in other non-European countries,” she said, alleging that the French gang has contacts in Belgium, Germany, Italy and Greece. None of those arrested works for the SNCF state rail network, she added.
A source close to the investigation told AFP anti-terrorist officers were examining “possible links between the suspects and the German hard-left, which has claimed responsibility for actions agains trains carrying nuclear waste”. President Nicolas Sarkozy congratulated police on the arrests and welcomed “the rapid and promising progress made in the context of the inquiry.”
Despite the most intense protests by anti-nuclear campaigners for several years, a French shipment of radioactive waste arrived in Germany early on Tuesday after a 20-hour delay. Eleven lorries carrying 123 tonnes of nuclear waste arrived at the Gorleben dump in northern Germany just after midnight (2200 GMT), police said. For most of the journey from western France the waste travelled by train and was halted for half a day at the German border by three activists who had jammed their arms into a concrete block under the track. Once in Germany, around 16,000 baton-wielding police were deployed as around 15,000 demonstrators rallied along the route to try to hinder progress using tactics such as setting barricades on fire on the tracks. The train eventually arrived at its final destination on Monday, more than 14 and a half hours late and the cargo was then transferred to lorries for the final 20 kilometres (12 miles) trip to Gorleben. Along the final leg some 1,000 activists had to be removed one-by-one by riot police before the lorries could pass. Tractors had been parked across the road and activists chained themselves to tall cement pyramids. (See also : Nuclear Waste Reaches German Storage Site Amid Fierce Protests, Spiegel Online, November 11, 2008.)
Since then one of those arrested has been released without charge (French court investigates 9 over railway sabotage, International Herald Tribune (The Associated Press), November 14, 2008).
soutien aux inculpés du 11 novembre is a website in some foreign bloody language (I think French?) what will presumably provide information in English at some point for impoverished mono-linguists such as myself. In the meantime, here’s the thoughts of Comrade George:
‘Terrorism or Tragicomedy’
(Originally published in French in Libération)
On the morning of November 11, 150 police officers, most of which belonged to the anti-terrorist brigades, surrounded a village of 350 inhabitants on the Millevaches plateau, before raiding a farm in order to arrest nine young people (who ran the local grocery store and tried to revive the cultural life of the village). Four days later, these nine people were sent before an anti-terrorist judge and “accused of criminal conspiracy with terrorist intentions.” The newspapers reported that the Ministry of the Interior and the Secretary of State “had congratulated local and state police for their diligence.” Everything is in order, or so it would appear. But let’s try to examine the facts a little more closely and grasp the reasons and the results of this “diligence.”
First the reasons: the young people under investigation “were tracked by the police because they belonged to the ultra-left and the anarcho autonomous milieu.” As the entourage of the Ministry of the Interior specifies, “their discourse is very radical and they have links with foreign groups.” But there is more: certain of the suspects “participate regularly in political demonstrations,” and, for example, “in protests against the Fichier Edvige (Exploitation Documentaire et Valorisation de l’Information Générale) and against the intensification of laws restricting immigration.” So political activism (this is the only possible meaning of linguistic monstrosities such as “anarcho autonomous milieu”) or the active exercise of political freedoms, and employing a radical discourse are therefore sufficient reasons to call in the anti-terrorist division of the police (SDAT) and the central intelligence office of the Interior (DCRI). But anyone possessing a minimum of political conscience could not help sharing the concerns of these young people when faced with the degradations of democracy entailed by the Fichier Edvige, biometrical technologies and the hardening of immigration laws.
As for the results, one might expect that investigators found weapons, explosives and Molotov cocktails on the farm in Millevaches. Far from it. SDAT officers discovered “documents containing detailed information on railway transportation, including exact arrival and departure times of trains.” In plain French: an SNCF train schedule. But they also confiscated “climbing gear.” In simple French: a ladder, such as one might find in any country house.
Now let’s turn our attention to the suspects and, above all, to the presumed head of this terrorist gang, “a 33 year old leader from a well-off Parisian background, living off an allowance from his parents.” This is Julien Coupat, a young philosopher who (with some friends) formerly published Tiqqun, a journal whose political analyses – while no doubt debatable – count among the most intelligent of our time. I knew Julien Coupat during that period and, from an intellectual point of view, I continue to hold him in high esteem.
Let’s move on and examine the only concrete fact in this whole story. The suspects’ activities are supposedly connected with criminal acts against the SNCF that on November 8 caused delays of certain TGV trains on the Paris-Lille line. The devices in question, if we are to believe the declarations of the police and the SNCF agents themselves, can in no way cause harm to people: they can, in the worst case, hinder communications between trains causing delays. In Italy, trains are often late, but so far no one has dreamed of accusing the national railway of terrorism. It’s a case of minor offences, even if we don’t condone them. On November 13, a police report prudently affirmed that there are perhaps “perpetrators among those in custody, but it is not possible to attribute a criminal act to any one of them.”
The only possible conclusion to this shadowy affair is that those engaged in activism against the (in any case debatable) way social and economic problems are managed today are considered ipso facto as potential terrorists, when not even one act can justify this accusation. We must have the courage to say with clarity that today, numerous European countries (in particular France and Italy), have introduced laws and police measures that we would previously have judged barbaric and anti-democratic, and that these are no less extreme than those put into effect in Italy under fascism. One such measure authorizes the detention for ninety-six hours of a group of young – perhaps careless – people, to whom “it is not possible to attribute a criminal act.” Another, equally serious, is the adoption of laws that criminalize association, the formulations of which are left intentionally vague and that allow the classification of political acts as having terrorist “intentions” or “inclinations,” acts that until now were never in themselves considered terrorist.
See also : Anarchist arrest sweep in France: “French Anti-Terrorism Police arrested around twenty people across France today (Nov. 11th)”, Tommy, nyc.indymedia.org, November 11, 2008. From the commentary: “Minister of Interior Michèle Alliot-Marie (or MAM) has been on a crusade for at least a year against what she’s dubbed the “l’ultra-gauche” Movement (or the “Anarcho-Autonomous Movement”) [and] has continued to trumpet the arrests as a blow against terrorism, and claims that there are “around 300” members of such groups in France. She has studiously refused to link them to what the French call “l’extrême-gauche” (Communists, Trotskyists, Revolutionary Syndicalists, etc), who are helping Rail unions organise work stoppages against a possible plan to privatise the railways. It seems a transparent attempt to criminalise elements of the left and create a bogeyman to split left groups.” | RNC 8 (October 1, 2008) | October15thSolidarity.info : “online project organised by a small group of people spread around the world. We hope to provide a platform to help support those affected by the [October 15, 2007, Aotearoa/New Zealand] raids and their wider communities. We also hope to strengthen the networks of existing and future support groups.”
French anarchists linked to New York bombing
The Daily Telegraph
November 14, 2008
French anti-terrorist police are holding 10 alleged members of a violent anarchist movement suspected of sabotaging power cables on high speed TGV train lines. But it now transpires that the alleged culprits were netted thanks to information from the FBI, which allegedly linked two of them to the home-made bomb attack on an army recruitment centre in New York’s Times Square in March. Julien Coupat, 34, the suspected head of the “anarcho-autonomist” group, and his 25-year old girlfriend, known only as Yldune L, were stopped allegedly trying to enter Canada from the US illegally in January. It was claimed they were carrying anarchist texts in English and photos of an army recruitment centre in New York. Although they had left the US before the bomb attack, they had allegedly been spotted shortly before at American anarchist meetings in New York. Tipped off by the FBI, France’s domestic intelligence services and anti-terrorist police had been watching them for months in a tiny village in the Corrèze region, central France. Police also carried out arrests in the northern city of Rouen, the Meuse region in the northeast and in the Paris area. Tens of thousands of French were hit by severe delays at the weekend when power was cut by metal bars hooked onto overhead electric cables on TGV lines around Paris. “These individuals are characterised by a total rejection of any democratic expression of political opinion and an extremely violent tone,” said Michele Alliot-Marie, the interior minister.