ZAD Reoccupation: 20,000 Mobilize in Notre Dame des Landes, France
17th November 2012 – Today marks the full-force reoccupation of an area known as the ZAD (zone à défendre – zone to defend) in Notre Dame des Landes, Brittany, France. In response to the brutal eviction and bulldozing of various farms, the disruption of livestock and tear-gas poisoning of vegetable gardens by riot police during the last week of October 2012, between 20,000 and 40,000 people are estimated to be on-site today. They are constructing cabins and cleaning up the land to get it ready to be inhabited once again. You can check out a weekend-long livestream here: http://ow.ly/flopU.
The construction of an airport that would take Notre Dame des Landes off the map has been a point of contention for almost 40 years. The locals, some with family homes dating from the early 1800’s and others who have constructed homes out of repurposed materials, grow vegetables and raise livestock for a living. Prior to the destructive police rampage at the end of October, there were multiple self-sustaining, low-impact operations on the land in question.
Police are trying to protect the economic interests of the company Vinci. Vinci plans to build the aforementioned airport on acres of farmland and Rohanne forest, and is using an argument of “public utility” to try to evict inhabitants. The validity of the “public utility” argument is very questionable. Another airport, Nantes Atlantique, is located about 40 minutes away from the site. Nantes Atlantique receives top ratings for its great ability to serve the region. Even pilots based out of Nantes Atlantique are speaking out against the new airport project, saying it is unnecessary.
Past actions of protest have included a walking vegetable garden and clowns on luggage carts with airplane wings at Nantes Atlantique, a No-G20 solidarity camp on the ZAD in the summer of 2011, various bicycle/tractor mobilizations to regional political events, a 6-day bike/tractor/cow march to the senate in Paris, permanent vigils in government buildings in the immediate area, and now a large-scale reoccupation.
Here is an exclusive video from the airport protest in late July of 2011: Riot police negotiate with clowns, get sprayed with fire extinguishers.
Occupants are under heavy surveillance, and their children are at times blocked by police from being able to go to school. At the end of October and beginning of November many farms and houses were violently evicted and subsequently demolished. Battles raged between riot cops and locals. Tear gas was sprayed, projectiles were thrown, barricades were constructed and lit on fire and roads were blocked. The provocation was on the part of invading police forces, as the locals were only trying to defend their homes.
Vinci’s airport project at Notre Dame des Landes is purely profit-seeking. It is an unnecessary and environmentally-destructive venture that must be stopped. It is being met with the resistance it merits, and people are stepping up to show solidarity through their presence and through donations of building materials, food and clothing. The people of Notre Dame des Landes are fighting to keep their homes and means of living.
Check out the video below if you want to see footage of the raids on the ZAD, including teargassing of vegetable gardens and a forcible eviction:
Here are some links to blogs with photos and articles (mostly in French), and also to a documentary about the history of this struggle:
Que la lutte continue avec rage et joie!