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As French anti nuclear activists organise protests, police carry out violent raids

 The French state intensifies its crackdown on anti-nuclear groups https://litbyimagination.blogspot.com.au/2017/09/sept-2017-french-state-intensifies-its.html  Possible Slow Fuse,

Many people have bought the argument that nuclear energy is carbon-free, even though it isn’t, and they have accepted the promise from the nuclear industry that there will be no more nuclear catastrophes because all the “lessons have been learned” and nothing of the kind will ever, ever happen again. They say that after every nuclear mistake big or small. The public also accepts without too much inquiry that nuclear reactors could exist in this world alongside a hypothetical abolition of nuclear weapons. Enough people seem persuaded of these arguments, so a passive acceptance of nuclear energy is the norm in most countries that still depend on it.

The issue that ought to be the real deal-breaker is none of the above-mentioned objections, even though they are each, individually, sufficient to make any nation reject nuclear energy. The most serious problem with nuclear energy is that no one, since the time when nuclear power plants were first switched on, has found a way to dispose of irradiated uranium and plutonium, commonly known as “nuclear waste.”

The public has been told that it can be safely buried as soon as nuclear reactor operators find a suitable geological disposal site and a “willing host community” to take it. So far both of these conditions have not been met. Willing host communities are extremely hard to produce, and reluctant host communities have exposed the fact that no proposed disposal site can be guaranteed to be safely sealed off from the ecosystem for the thousands of years into the future.

Over the last five years I have followed the opposition that has arisen to France’s plan to bury its nuclear waste in an enormous facility in northeastern France near the town of Bure. The articles I translated previously can be found at the links at the end of this article. The translation that follows this introduction describes what is happening to opponents in September 2017 as their movement has grown and their lawsuits and legal challenges have been rejected. The state has finally decided to crack down. When a group of people decide to stand up and protect future generations, this is the thanks they get.

Events in France illustrate the serious flaws in our civilization’s approach to energy policy. Any solution that imposes destruction on a local people cannot be called the product of a democratic process. One can say that this is a majority decision, or the nation requires this sacrifice, but any such abuse of a minority is incompatible with democracy because anyone, and thus everyone, becomes susceptible to such tyranny in different times and circumstances.

Some nations are aware of this dilemma so they are content to delay indefinitely the quest for a final resting place for irradiated fuel rods. They hope to someday find the appropriate host community, but it doesn’t matter if they never succeed. As long as they talk of having this intent and pretend a solution is possible, they can continue operating their reactors. France, on the other hand, seems to have been foolish enough to take the idea of building a permanent disposal site seriously. They proceeded to build it over the objections of citizens and in spite of evidence that it would jeopardize future generations.

On Wednesday September 20, police raided several locations in Bure (Meuse region) and surrounding areas inhabited by opponents of the nuclear waste disposal project. For many of them, this operation seems to be “the main focus of police pressure that has become widespread and permanent.” Gatherings of support are being organized throughout France.

La maison de résistance in Bure, the place where opponents of CIGEO meet and organize, was raided for the first time on September 20 at about 06:15.

Bought in 2005 by French and Germn antinuclear activists from belonging to Bure Zone Libre (BZL), this old farm today welcomes activists of many kinds on a regular and permanent basis. “Raiding la maison de resistance is very symbolic. They are getting serious now,” remarks Joel, a resident of Mandres and opponent of the nuclear waste repository. Over almost ten hours, officers went through everything in the building, and seized numerous objects. Joel explained, “They didn’t have enough boxes to seal everything up properly, so they had to have more brought to them. They came with a moving truck, ready to empty the house.”

It was about 6:20 in the morning when officers started their raids at the maison de resistance, in Bure, the grounds of the station at Lumeville, and a residence in Commercy. They also went to an apartment in Mandres-en-Barrois, near Verdun. These places are occupied by people opposed to the burial of nuclear waste in Bure. Managed by ANDRA (l’Agence Nationale pour la gestion des Déchets RAdioactifs), this project was baptized as CIGEO (Centre Industriel de stockage GEologique)

The forces of public order justified their entry into the maison de resistance with a warrant from a commission of inquiry formed to investigate an attack on the hotel-restaurant of the ANDRA laboratory last June.

According to the website MVC.Camp maintained by the activists on the site, “There were forty officers, and they made their entry violently. Equipped with a crowbar, they broke the door and, it seems, some car windows.”

At the train station, about fifteen officers were present, accompanied by a prosecutor and drug-sniffing dogs. They came in with a warrant from the commission allowing a search for drugs. In Commercy, they also arrived about 6:00 and seized a computer, a hard drive and a portable phone. During this time, roadblocks were put up at Ribeaucourt and at Mandres.

“The people here are exhausted and afraid”

According to the prosecutor in Bar-le-Duc, Olivier Glady, interviewed by AFP (Agence France Presse), officers seized helmets, gas masks and fireworks, 140 grams of “packaged” cannabis resin, ten cannabis plants, as well as data and phones. They were pursuing three different investigations:

  1. The one ordered by the commission of inquiry mentioned above.
  2. Another investigation was launched after confrontations that occurred at a protest on August 15, according to Mr. Glady.
  3. Some raids were related to “infractions of drug laws,” he added.

For the organization Sortir du Nuléaire, “this raid comes after many months of permanent police harassment in the villages around Bure, with constant patrols by police cars and helicopters, and roadblocks where both protesters and farmers have to show identification.”

In a press release, the group denounced “these unacceptable methods and the escalation in this strategy of tension. It is shameful that the State chooses targeting of opponents rather than abandoning this dangerous project that imposes a danger on future generations.” The group is calling for protests throughout the country (see list below.)

A resident of Mandres, an opponent of the CIGEO project, told Reporterre, “It’s the first time we’ve seen an operation of this scale in Bure.” For him, it’s the main focus of a police pressure that is now diffuse and permanent. “Officers patrol daily in the streets and villages, filming and harassing, controlling everything in a pervasive manner. They are raising the tension in order to discourage people, making people afraid, and pushing them to the margins, but all they’re doing is motivating people to mobilize more.”

Michel Labat, another resident of Mandres told Reporterre he was revolted. “It’s incredible. So many police everywhere. Today there is no more opposition. As soon as we do something, they call in the police. Then they insult and harass us regularly. They have no respect. People here are exhausted and afraid.”

For Jean-Francois Bodenreider, a physiotherapist, a resident of Bonnet, and president of the group Habitants Vigilants de Gondrecourt said, “These raids are a way of destabilizing the struggle, a way of focusing on other things. While we are pointing out the dangers of CIGEO, they are conducting disciplinary operations, portraying opponents as druggies and criminals. This makes people stop talking about the real problems. They don’t know what to say or do to defend le nucléaire, so they talk about something else.

“They are pushing us to our limits to make us do something irreparable”

On September 17, this physiotherapist who established himself in Gondrecourt twenty-five years ago, experienced another of many provocations by police. He was in his yard when a black 4×4 stopped in front of his house. Mr. Bodenreider said, “I approached and the passenger in the front took out his phone to take some photos. He told me he was looking for houses to buy in the area. I asked him to leave because our house is not for sale, then his tone changed. Suddenly, one of the passengers shouted, ‘Go! He has a hammer!’” Mr. Bodenreider’s son, Leonard, a medical student, was in the garage gathering supplies for a camping trip. “Out of fear for his father, and in anger” he threw a rubber hammer toward the vehicle. Then the family was shocked to see the passengers in the 4×4 identify themselves as police officers. They handcuffed Leonard and took him away. The spouses of father and son went to the police station in Gondrecourt and waited patiently until they were finally listened to as witnesses. Mr. Bodenreider recounted, “The officers were talking about attempted manslaughter charges, but some local officers who knew us were there and they defused the situation, and they finally got our son released that evening.”

Leonard will have to appear in court on charges of destruction of property because the hammer slightly struck the vehicle.

“After the incident, I told myself that if I reacted like that it was because I was irritated,” said the physiotherapist. I don’t live under daily pressure, not like the residents of Mandres who are patrolled eight times a day. But this pressure exerted by police patrols affects all of us.” He describes himself as “moderate” in the struggle, but he is sure of one thing: “They are pushing us so that we’ll do something irreparable.”

“Once you are identified as an opponent, you are presumed to be guilty”

Joel, an opponent of the CIGEO project, recently relived the experience of his house arrest during the COP21 summit: “At 6 AM, ten officers came to the door of the friend I was staying with in Commercy. They went through everything for the next hour. One of them had a Taser gun. They left with papers, my computer, and my phone. As a bonus question, the forces of public order asked before leaving, “Do you have anything else to declare regarding Bure?”

As in the other locations that were raided, one of which was Joel’s apartment in Mandres, officers indicated that they were investigating the attack on the hotel-restaurant of the ANDRA laboratory. One catch: Joel was on vacation in Greece at the time. He adds indignantly, “Once you are identified as an opponent, in my case since the COP21, you’re a target and presumed guilty.”

For Joel, this is all proof that the operations this Wednesday were not aimed solely at finding who is responsible for the acts committed this summer. He observes, “They are creating permanent tension in order to break people.”

List of protest events being organized by Sortir du Nucleaire this Wednesday:

Paris à 18h, appel à rassemblement au marché aux fleurs, métro Cité, à 18h. En solidarité également avec les camarades en procès de la voiture brûlée.

devant la Préfecture de Bar-le-Duc à 17h30

Nantes, rdv 18h à Commerce dans le cadre du Front social.

Grenoble, 17h30, au pied de la tour Perret, parc Paul Mistral, par le comité local de soutien contre les GPII.

Nancy place Stanislas à 18h.

Angers, 18h, devant la Préfecture d’Angers.

Épinal, 18h, devant la Préfecture.

Colmar, 18h, devant la Préfecture, Champ-de-Mars.

Dijon, 18h, devant la Préfecture. Événement ici.

Rassemblement en cours d’organisation en Alsace, on vous tient au courant dès que possible.

Rassemblement en cours d’organisation à Reims, idem.

Une conférence de presse commune du mouvement de résistance se tiendra jeudi 21 septembre à 11h à la Maison de résistance à la poubelle nucléaire, à Bure.

More articles about Bure, CIGEO and French nuclear history:

Nuclear Waste Project Hungry for Land

French court: NGOs have no right to challenge nuclear “public authorities”

France’s Bure Nuclear Waste Site on Trial

The Inconvenience of a Geothermic Energy Source Under France’s Nuke Waste Dump

L’état, c’est MOX

Superphénix (some history of the French anti-nuclear movement)     Very valuable information for the anglophone world.  We are constantly being told of how popular and successful is the nuclear industry in France. This is a timely counter to the pro nuclear English language propaganda

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September 23, 2017 - Posted by | civil liberties, France, opposition to nuclear

1 Comment »

  1. The French PM is former AREVA public affairs officer (2007-2010). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Édouard_Philippe

    Comment by miningawareness | September 25, 2017 | Reply


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