Cheese-eating surrender monkeys vs. very fast trains : Free the Tarnac Nine!

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’
Giorgio Agamben
3:AM Magazine
(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.

Sounds familiar…

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.”

PS.

French anarchists linked to New York bombing
Henry Samuel
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.

Bonus!

KYEO!

About @ndy

I live in Melbourne, Australia. I like anarchy. I don't like nazis. I enjoy eating pizza and drinking beer. I barrack for the greatest football team on Earth: Collingwood Magpies. The 2020 premiership's a cakewalk for the good old Collingwood.
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7 Responses to Cheese-eating surrender monkeys vs. very fast trains : Free the Tarnac Nine!

  1. Djugashvili says:

    Presumably, these 9 “innocents” attracted attention in some way or another, for some reason.

    Had they been volunteering at soup kitchens, hospitals, or suicide help lines, presumably the authorities could not have accused them in any credible way, of actions against the highly vulnerable TGV.

    (Recent cell phone communication problems just killed some 44 passengers in a California train crash… the TGV travels at 5-6 times the speed of the California train.)

    The anarchist dilettante game comes down to calibrating anti-societal attacks to be plausibly deniable when caught.

    The straightforward, and inevitable next chess move by authorities is to harass the innocent-but-not-quite-innocent perpetrators.

    I see no cause for any righteous outrage.

    The two sides match each other perfectly.

  2. @ndy says:

    “Presumably, these 9 “innocents” attracted attention in some way or another, for some reason.”

    Duh.

    Alliance Base is a joint antiterrorist cell of the CIA and the French secret service… put in place after the events of 9/11 by French President Jacques Chirac and the President of the United States, George Bush.

    According to the Washington Post (Help From France Key In Covert Operations: Paris’s ‘Alliance Base’ Targets Terrorists, Dana Priest, July 3, 2005), the Alliance Base cell was installed in Paris in 2002 to fight Al Qaida (the name Alliance Base being a literal translation of an Al Qaida cell). Great Britain, Germany, Canada and Australia are participating nations as well… The goal: analyze transnational movements of presumed terrorists and launch operations to spy on them or capture them. Official documents from the Ministry of Defense prove that the project has been in operation since April 2002.

    Despite their disagreements on the war in Iraq, France and the United States have not ceased, since 9/11, from collaborating in the fight against Islamist terrorism. The DGSE (Directorate-General for External Security) as well as the DST (counter-espionage) has “regular bilateral relationships” with their colleagues in the CIA and the FBI.”

    “Had they been volunteering at soup kitchens, hospitals, or suicide help lines, presumably the authorities could not have accused them in any credible way, of actions against the highly vulnerable TGV.”

    You’re an idiot.

    To begin with, those arrested were involved in precisely this kind of activity. Thus:

    A committee has been set up by the ex-mayor of the small town of Tarnac, as well as the present mayor of a nearby town… these people are peaceful and respected by the local peasantry, they’re considered a boon to this small, isolated area, and their “commune” has helped to keep the local economy solvent in the face of rural emigration.

    Secondly — and quite obviously — involvement in the conduct of soup kitchens, hospitals, or suicide help lines, on the one hand, and involvement in ‘terrorism’, on the other, are not mutually exclusive activities. In reality, the two have nothing to do with one another.

    “Recent cell phone communication problems just killed some 44 passengers in a California train crash… the TGV travels at 5-6 times the speed of the California train.”

    And?

    “The anarchist dilettante game comes down to calibrating anti-societal attacks to be plausibly deniable when caught.”

    In a pig’s eye.

    “The straightforward, and inevitable next chess move by authorities is to harass the innocent-but-not-quite-innocent perpetrators.”

    Huh? Stop talking like a state official.

    “I see no cause for any righteous outrage.

    The two sides match each other perfectly.”

    As I said: you’re an idiot.

    When faced with two alternatives, choose the third.

  3. g says:

    These allegations are madness and support is still needed, so please sign the petition.

    http://www.mesopinions.com/petition-de-soutien-aux-inculpes-du-11-Novembre-petition-petitions-81da97ce3744e2e84a145009aadbc0f9.html

    Financial help is also needed for the support group. Cheques can be made payable to Comité de soutien aux inculpés de Tarnac and sent to Comité de soutien aux inculpés de Tarnac, le bourg, 19170 Tarnac. The use of the term ‘terrorism’ is extremely disturbing. Oh, maybe you could change the title of this page? It’s not that amusing and one often seems to forget the bravery of la Résistance during the war. Thanks!

    http://www.soutien11novembre.org/

  4. @ndy says:

    G’day g,

    Change the title? Maybe. I thought it was humorous… in a silly way… as in… it’s meant to be ironic. And yeah: la Résistance

    With the prospect of Paris being liberated the Spanish anarchists came to the fore. In 1939 the French authorities had interned the defeated Republican army in camps in southeast France. Every morning gendarmes visited the barracks encouraging internees to join the Foreign Legion. Several thousand accepted the offer, seeing it as a way of continuing the fight against fascism. They were sent to French dependencies in North Africa or further south to Chad or Cameroon. Those who went south joined the Free French in 1940, linking with the force formed by General Leclerc(10). The others had to wait till the Allied landings in Algeria in November 1942. But all – at least those who survived – were among the first Allied troops to enter Paris on 24 August 1944.

    Paris was fighting, but it needed help. A truce had been signed on 20 August by representatives of General de Gaulle and Choltitz (the commander of the German garrison) providing for the peaceful withdrawal of occupation forces. But the next day the Resistance decided to break the truce, afraid that the Germans would use it to their strategic advantage. Rol-Tanguy sent Commander Gallois to meet the approaching Allied forces. Gallois convinced Leclerc to speed up his 2nd armoured division’s advance on Paris. Leclerc sent the 9th armoured company, led by Captain Raymond Dronne, ahead of the main force: all its men were Spanish anarchists who spoke Castilian. In his memoirs(11) Dronne writes of their courage; Leclerc thought highly of them.

    The first detachments of the 9th company entered the south of Paris at 8.41pm though the Porte d’Italie. A tank called Guadalajara after a Republican victory in 1937(12) led the way. Forty minutes later, the tanks and half-tracks halted on Place de l’Hôtel de Ville in the centre. A crowd surrounded the 120 Spaniards and their 22 vehicles, greeting them as liberators. “Were they American?” people asked, surprised to hear them speaking Spanish. Their tanks were named after civil war battles – Ebro, Teruel, Belchite, Madrid – and also called Don Quijote, and Durruti, after the anarchist leader.

    Their arrival ended the siege of the town hall, where Resistance forces had been holding out against German attacks for five days. Inside the building the Spanish troops set up a gun, El abuelo (grandfather). As night fell everyone waited for reinforcements. Amado Granelli, a lieutenant in the 9th company, met members of the National Resistance Council, led by Georges Bidault. Meanwhile Leclerc, with the rest of the 2nd armoured division, raced towards Paris, reaching it the following morning.

    In the days after, fighting increased in intensity. According to Tillon, the Spaniards – the partisans who joined the French Forces of the Interior (FFI) – were excellent street fighters. But he exaggerated their contribution to the liberation of Paris. In the preface to a book on the Manouchian group in 1946, he estimated their number at 4,000 and used the same figure in Les FTP(13). Manuel Tunon de Lara, a Spanish historian, is more cautious.

    Once the fighting in Paris was over Rogelio Puerto led his Spanish detachments – from the FTP, UNE and PCE – to the Reuilly barracks. There Boris Holban, the MOI leader, merged a motley force of combatants into a single battalion called Liberté. They included Italians, Poles, Armenians and even escaped Russian prisoners of war. The Spanish contingent, about 500, was the largest. They had fought all over Paris, on Place de la Concorde, outside the National Assembly, around the Arc de Triomphe, inside the Hotel Majestic that housed the Gestapo headquarters, on Place Saint Michel and Place de la République. Several dozen were killed, including José Baron, who had supervised the regrouping of the guerrillas earlier that year.

    The 9th company carried on with the 2nd armoured division towards Germany. It took part in the liberation of Strasbourg, where Lieutenant- Colonel Putz, a former International Brigade volunteer, fell fighting alongside Spanish Republicans. The company ended the war at Berchtesgaden, Hitler’s residence in the Bavarian Alps. Sadly only a few Spaniards survived to scale the dictator’s mountain retreat.

    In 1941 thousands of Spanish volunteers had set out from Chad determined to help overthrow the Nazi regime, which had supported the fascist forces that had conquered Spain. They had a single objective: to carry the fight against fascism back into Spain, but this time with the support of the Allies. Their hopes were betrayed and Franco stayed in power until 1975. France, for which they laid down their lives, forgot them…

    ~ Denis Fernández Recatalà (translated by Harry Foster), ‘The Spaniards who liberated Paris’, Le Monde diplomatique, August 2004

  5. g says:

    Hi Andy. I’m sorry but that is a very narrow view of a large and complicated situation. I was referring to the ‘surrender’ comment. You could mention the thousands of French people who fought in Spain during the Civil War. I believe the number was the largest contribution by any nation. Anyway, no harm done and this is getting away from the main point: support for the people in Tarnac. Please spread the word. Thanks!!

  6. @ndy says:

    Yes. Absolutely. I agree. Meaning: it was a complicated situation; I in no way, shape or form meant to imply that the resistance to Nazi occupation can or should be reduced to the actions of the Spanish anarchists at the end of the War and; many thousands of French people fought and died opposing the Nazis. The ‘cheese-eating surrender monkey’ thing I use in a very tongue-in-cheek manner. It is utterly preposterous. (It also brings to mind the similarly absurd remark attributed to Charles de Gaulle in a speech in 1951: “The French will only be united under the threat of danger. No one can simply bring together a country that has 265 kinds of cheese.”) The surrender thing should be blamed on: 1) Bart Simpson; 2) US corporate media’s very own ‘War on Terror’; 3) @ndy. As it stands, I’m inclined to remove it, as it appears to be open to misinterpretation.

    With regards the Tarnac 9, if there are any other online sources of infos in English, I’d be very interested in reading them.

  7. g says:

    No problem, Andy. For the time being, updates in English will appear on the New York site you gave the link to. Although there are newspaper articles in French almost every day, I recommend that you check the site for accurate information. You can still find one or two ridiculous articles in the newspapers in France. However, the media coverage has changed completely from the initial reaction and people can now see that the allegations are unbelievable. Thanks again.

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