French state uses martial law against climate protesters

The martial law introduced with France’s state of emergency is now being used to try to crush protests against the COP21 summit which is about to start in Paris. Originally, protests were banned because the crowds were “at risk” of terrorist attack, but now the mask has slipped and the raw repression of an authoritarian state has been revealed. Is this what we will all be facing in years to come, as the failing industrial capitalist system unleashes its violence against anyone who dares to try to stop it destroying life on the planet?

Translation of article from Le Monde, November 27

State of emergency: police raids and house arrests against anti-development and alternative activists

Several days before the start of COP21, several house arrests and police raids have been targeted against activists close to the ZAD (anti-industrial protest camp) and environmental movement across the whole of France, on Wednesday November 25 and Thursday November 26.

Six people were put under house arrest in Rennes, along with a Paris member of the legal team for the CoalitionClimate21, which consists of 130 groups, NGOs and unions. Police have also tried to impose this measure on several people in Rouen, Lyon and elsewhere. There have been police raids at Ivry-sur-Seine (Val-de-Marne) and against organic vegetable sellers in the Dordogne. As far as we can ascertain, the house arrests are for a limited duration – until December 12, the day after the end of the climate summit – and are clearly aimed at protests that could potentially surround the event, which begins on Sunday November 29.

The authorities say arrests have been made “with regard to the seriousness of the terrorist threat to the national territory” and as part of “specific measures being introduced to ensure security at the conference”. “Orders have circulated calling for violent protests” they insist, stating that “the heavy mobilisation of security forces to fight against the terrorist threat should not be diverted to respond to threats to public order arising from such protest demonstrations.” The November 20 law on the state of emergency authorises house arrests for anyone where there are “serious reasons for thinking that their behaviour constitutes a threat to public security and order”.

Concern for some weeks

The possibility of disorder at the big Climate March which was supposed to have been held on November 29 has been worrying the government for some weeks. The march was finally called off after the attacks of November 13 – the police banned all demonstrations in Paris and the surrounding area until November 30. While the organisers have looked to other ways of getting their message across, several groups and collectives have refused to give up. On Tuesday November 24 several intellectuals issued a call in the Liberation newspaper to “defy the state of emergency” (see below) and on Friday the Facebook event “Global March for the Climate (call to disobedience) had attracted 4,700 people.

The method used by the government to counter the COP21 mobilisation is reminiscent of the “administrative ban on demonstrating” which was one of the proposals of the Socialist Party MP for Seine-Saint-Denis, Pascal Popelin, spokesman for the parliamentary commission set up in the aftermath of the death of a protester at Sivens (Tarn), on October 26 2014. The president of the commission, Noël Mamère (Ecologist, Gironde), disassociated himself from the conclusions of the report.

Laurent Borredon and Adrien Pécout


(Translation of statement released in Paris, November 24 2015)

We didn’t have to wait long to realise that the state of emergency imposed on France for three months was not going to be limited to protecting the population from further attacks.

Last weekend, a large part of the town of Sens (south of Paris) was put under curfew, without any clear link to the attacks. It was the police raid of a flat, which doesn’t even seem to have gone ahead, which was used to justify this collective punishment. Of the 1,072 night-time raids effected by the authorities outside of any legal framework, less than one in ten have resulted in anyone being held in custody.

In Nice a six year old girl was injured during a police operation: the officers who turned up in the middle of the night had smashed in the wrong door. On Sunday in Loire-Atlantique, a caravan of 200 cycles accompanied by five tractors was blocked by the cops: they didn’t want the cyclists to go to Paris for COP21.

At the current time the government is unscrupulously enacting measures that were previously prescribed by the extreme right. The newspapers assure us that opinion polls show massive support for this exceptional state of affairs, which is unprecedented for the last half century. It’s victory for IS to have managed, with less than a dozen men, to turn the French state into a victim of its own worst reactionary reflexes. It’s a victory for IS to have had the entire population restrained under police protection.

On Sunday November 29 a massive demonstration was planned in the streets of Paris to put pressure on the world’s governments, whom nobody trusted to find a solution for climate change. Hundreds of thousands of people were expected from all over Europe. Prime Minister Manuel Valls, while he certainly had plenty to say about the derisory nature of any agreements likely to come out of COP21, was very afraid of this protest; so he decided to ban it. The excuse was that the crowd might be the target of another attack – so is Monsieur Valls playing with fire in letting French people risk their lives by doing their Christmas shopping? Those who want to protest are being threatened with six-month jail sentences. Does M. Valls want to put us in prison to protect us from terrorists?

We call for a defiance of the state of emergency on Sunday November 29 and for everyone to go to the Place de la République in Paris at 2pm.

Pierre Alféri, novelist, poet and essayist
Ludivine Bantigny, historian
Thierry Bourcy, novelist
François Cusset, professor of American civilization
Gérard Delteil, writer
Pascal Dessaint, writer
Joss Dray, author-photographer
Cedric Durand, economist
Caryl Ferey, writer
Jacques Fradin, mathematician, economic researcher
François Gèze, publisher
Christophe Granger, historian
Naira Guénif, sociologist
Eric Hazan, publisher
Hugues Jallon, publisher
La parisienne libérée, singer
Jérome Leroy, novelist
Laurent Lévy, essayist
Frédéric Lordon, director of research at the National Centre for Scientific Research
Seloua Luste Boulbina, philosopher
Joelle Marelli, philosopher, writer, programme director at the Collège
international de philosophie
Annie Ohayon, engineer
Alain Parrau, teacher Paris 7
Willy Pelletier, sociologist
Serge Quadruppani, writer
Nathalie Quintane, poet
Jean-Jacques Reboux, novelist, publisher
Olivier Roueff, researcher
Jean-jacques Rue, film programmer and journalist
Julien Salingue, doctor in political science
Ivan Segré, philosopher
Yannis Youlountas, writer, film-maker

This call-out has been published in Liberation newspaper and on the lundiam website.

There is an associated petition at


Translation by The Acorn