Solidarity statement to the ZADs in France for us, for Remi, for everyone

During the past few years, we have been continuously confronted by numerous large-scale ‘development’ projects that are promoted under the pretext of the capitalist financial crisis. Open-pit gold mines in Skouries in Greece and Rosia Montana in Romania, massive coastal projects in Cyprus, forest coal mines in Hambach in Germany, the high speed railway in Val di Susa in Italy, the second airport at Nantes in France, the second football stadium in Lyon in France, a new dam in Sivens in France. All these, in their vast majority mega projects, have many things in common, though they are geographically apart.

Such large-scale ‘development’ projects are all under the umbrella of what has been termed as ‘Unnecessary Imposed Mega Projects’ and though they are imposed by the state, they are driven by the ideals of capitalism and consumerism. Such projects are unnecessary and destructive for the local communities in the impacted areas, with devastating effects on the environment and the surrounding ecosystems. All these projects are promoted for the sake of profit (for the few) and the so-called ‘growth’.

These projects have even more things in common; the multifaceted means of opposition, whether it is open squats or demonstrations and sabotages on one hand, and the common ideological foundations of de-growth, anti-capitalism and anti-authoritarianism, as well as the claims for autonomy one the other.

In France, during the past few years such projects have encountered and are still facing a strong opposition by the local communities who have come together with radical movements. These places have come to have a common name: ZAD. For the government, this means ‘Zone d’Aménagement Différé’ (‘Urban Development Zone’). For the activists it means something different: ‘Zone A Defendre’ (‘Zone To Defend’). The ZAD at Nantes is considered to be one of the Europe’s largest land occupations against the construction of a second airport in the area. The construction firm is Vinci. It is the world’s largest multinational construction firm, builder of nuclear power stations, African uranium mines, oil pipelines, motorways, car parks and other similar infrastructure across the world. At Nantes they are aiming to cover the whole landscape with concrete by 2017. Or at least this was the plan up until the first occupation of the area.

The occupation was evicted by 1600 cops two years ago. The order they were following was to ‘cleanse’ the area by November, something they tried to do through the militarization of the entire area and by destroying the squats. Mass media, the police and the state then declared that the movement was exterminated. It was only a few weeks later however, when a massive mobilization counting 30 to 40.000 activists and 200 tractors re-occupied the space. For 3 days there were clashes with the anti-riot police. The occupation is still ongoing at the time that this article is written and last February there was an even bigger mobilization (with 60.000 people and 500 tractors) during a demonstration in the city of Nantes demanding the abandonment of the project.

ZAD Everywhere, Resistance and Sabotage

The example of the ZAD at Nantes gave birth to more ZADs, such as the ones in Lyon against a football stadium and at Sivens against a dam. There are a lot of activist communities in different areas in France exchanging ideas, skills and co-organizing demonstrations and direct actions, such as blocking routes and liberating tolls at highways along with demonstrating against Vinci and other multinational corporations.

As the movement attracts more and more activists and becomes more powerful, the state is trying to terrorize people. Repression was unprecedented throughout last year. The police was using all weapons at its disposal – flash-balls, stun grenades, offensive grenades, teargas – resulting in many serious injuries during the clashes at different ZADs. This peaked with the assassination of our comrade Remi by the police, on the 25th of October at the ZAD of Testet, Sivens. The cause of death was an offensive grenade. Since then there have been more than 90 demonstrations in 60 cities in France. The repression during these manifestations was also huge, and led to 120 prosecutions in Paris, 16 in Lyon and 21 in Nantes.

During the last 14 years the cops have killed 147 people in France. Their ‘democratic and anti-riot weapons’, such as flash-balls and grenades, have injured and mutilated even more comrades. A condemnation of a cop or a resignation of a minister will not have any consequence as things are standing right now. Nor will the provisional suspension of grenades.

What is at stake is the complete disarmament of the state’s militia. This is what the movement generated from Remi’s assassination is demanding. A nation-wide demonstration has been called at Toulouse this Saturday (8th November) and during the past few days there have been students’ mobilizations with demonstrations, roadblocks and occupations as well.

Remi’s death is the proof that the radical ecological movement in Europe is now facing a new, militarized neoliberal push where big corporations and the State is looking for growth and profit within all available space. Fighting for justice for Remi is not a question of vengeance. It is a matter of fighting for what Remi dreamed about: a different world. Solidarity to the ZADs means solidarity for every person resisting these mega projects, the system of capitalism and authoritarianism such projects seek to sustain, and the elites of the world who are trying to convince us that there is no alternative.

Beyond Europe crew, November 2014