By Emmanuelle Bramban, Idle No More France,
March 1st 2016
Translation by Christine Prat



The gathering on Saturday February 27, 2016, to protect Notre Dame des Landes, threatened by the destructive project to build a new airport, was more than successful.
Some 60 000 people from all over the region and even all over France came to support local resistance movements, those of farmers as well as that of the ZAD!
Whether the governing powers, who try to minimize this huge mobilization, like it or not, it has been a huge gathering, the most important in the whole history of the struggle for Notre Dame des Landes.

Two convoys from the Paris region took the direction of the meeting point, one from Saint-Denis – where the city council financed the hiring of busses in solidarity – the other from Paris, consisting of 8 big busses, all full.
From Larzac, a historical farmers’ resistance region, from Languedoc in the South, from regions along the Rhone, from Alsace in the East, from the North… etc., from all regions of France, but also from England, Ireland… in big or small delegations, human beings found it important to defend that small piece of France, that ancestral land, rich and beautiful, against that senseless project of having an airport built by the Vinci company.
A project which has been wanted and fervently desired by Jean-Marc Ayrault [ex-Prime Minister, ex-Mayor of Nantes, now Minister again] and Prime Minister Manuel Valls, this is the reason why they are ready to sacrifice and kill that rich agricultural area with an extraordinary biodiversity including protected species, and an incredibly fertile soil.

And then on the ZAD (Zone A Défendre: To be Defended Area), where those who occupy the land mean to defend it through resistance, creativity has been developing and new ways of life tending to autonomy and food self-sufficiency have been reinvented in numerous ways. This is necessarily dangerous for corporate lobbies which are unconditionally defended by government and Presidency, who want to break this strong regional resistance, as an example to crush any further dissent.
They have gone so far as to exert pressure to remove farmer families from Notre Dame des Landes who are still there in their farm – those who are called the ‘historical people of NDDL’. Recently, the administrative court in Nantes decided their immediate removal from their houses and their family lands which they have owned for several generations. Those people have been asking for years to meet the President who never answered.

Thus, that Saturday, from intersection Vigneux to that of Temple de Bretagne on highway 165, they all came walking, cycling, on tractors, pushing prams, and all of them, in a cheerful family-like mood, but very determined, expressed their will, chanting “NO! NEITHER AIRPORT NOR RELOCATION!”, “GARDENS, NO TAR”, “THE SKY FOR THE BIRDS!” as well as in artistic, creative ways.

This land and its inhabitants deserve to live and to keep their ancestral territory which is a benefit for the region and the whole of France; it is thus time that the President and his government come back to their senses and to the reason of the Life of the Earth and stop giving in to the calls of deadly cash.

Emmanuelle Bramban, March 1st 2016




By Christine Prat
February 28th 2014


On Saturday, February 22nd, a big demonstration against a megalomaniac airport project took place in Nantes – Western France – the city that local politicians dream of making the center of international air traffic in Western Europe. Although the big media claim that the demonstration was spoilt by ‘dangerous radical activists’ who caused devastation in the center of Nantes, what I saw of it – confirmed by other witnesses – was mainly violent attacks and shots of tear gas by the police against a huge crowd of peaceful demonstrators and passers-by while only a handful of people were throwing stones at the cops – moreover, there is strong suspicion that plain clothes cops were among the stones throwers (see photo below).

The project has first been devised in the 1960’s, but put on stand-by in the early 1970’s. There has always been strong opposition from local small farmers and environmentalists. See article of November 28th 2012

After the big demonstration of November 17th 2012, the focus was mainly on the legal side of the matter: it turned out that the corporation – Vinci – contracted to build the airport had not respected the requirements of French Law, which demands that projects destroying a humid zone (very important for global climate) create another one in the region. Meanwhile, the police and militaries kept harassing the local population, block roads, intimidate people, etc. while the farmers and activists residing on the spot kept developing traditional agriculture, organic gardens, organizing meetings, lectures, shows, festivals, workshops, creative ways of living, alternative trading, solidarity, free markets without money, etc. Due to the legal problems, the government had to announce a temporary stop of the project in April 2013. Some of the opponents thought that they had won, on May 11th they organized a human chain and a big party entitled ‘Let’s bury the project’ and on August 4th a Festival. But other opponents could not believe that the corporation and the authorities would give up so easily: the State has signed a contract with the Vinci Corporation and would have to pay huge fines if they cancelled it, moreover Vinci is well known for bribing politicians and civil servants, who don’t want to be exposed nor to have to pay the bribes back.

When it became clear, a few months ago, that they had not given up the project and planned to start the works (the prefecture published the decrees end 2013), opponents called for a big demonstration in Nantes on February 22nd 2014. It has been announced 2 months in advance, with a Facebook page and all. The authorities did not officially react, until one day before the demonstration, when it was announced that the route of the demonstration was not allowed, and that the city center would be closed. Still, some fifty to sixty thousand (twenty thousand according to the police) people came to Nantes on Saturday, with flowers, music instruments, banners, and started a joyous and peaceful demonstration. Then it turned out that the cops had blocked the main avenue where most demonstrations always march, as well as the side streets, and forced the demonstrators to change their route. At the place of the blockade, some people were throwing stones at the cops, who were shooting tear gas canisters and other ammunitions far above the heads of the stone throwers, right into the crowd. The farmers, who had come with tractors, turned around, then indicated a new gathering point for the demo and told demonstrators to walk on the left of the tractors, which formed a protection between the crowd and the fighting zone.

However, the cops were also blocking the other end of the street (I heard people who had walked around say “we are trapped”). The cops shot tear gas among the fleeing crowd. At the gathering place where the demo was to end, they attacked from several sides, shooting tear gas far beyond the rioters, among the peaceful crowd again. Two tear gas canisters landed just beside me and from that moment I did not see anything anymore. I am very thankful to the people who immediately came with stuff to rinse my eyes, put drops and all those who offered help. After I recovered, I needed a bathroom, so I went into one of the two bars on the square, which terraces were overcrowded (it was sunny). When I came out of the bathroom, there was tear gas inside the bar, as well as crying and chocking people, the terraces had disappeared. The square and the main avenue were invaded by police vehicles, tear gas and smoke.

The media immediately claimed that the center of Nantes had been devastated by radical activists from the ZAD (the area slated for the airport, now occupied by some farmers who refuse to leave and activists defending the wild area housing endangered species). They did not say a word about wounded demonstrators and passers-by, which I find unbelievable, considering what I had seen, specially as the huge majority of the demonstrators were ‘respectable’ citizens, not used to have problems with the police, who came with small children, elderly people, handicapped people, many of whom must have fallen, been wounded or felt sick when the cops shot tear gas and other ammunition into the fleeing crowds. Indymedia-Nantes reported – with photos and testimonies – that a 29-years-old man had lost an eye, according to the doctors because of a flash ball shot. He said that he had seen another man with eye wounds at the hospital. He was beyond any doubts a peaceful marcher. Some reports say that a few dozen people had been treated at the Academic Hospital, which refuses to give any confirmation or information.

It looks very much like a set up by the authorities to find an excuse to attack the ZAD (the area slated for the airport). The chairman of the Region immediately wrote to the President to ask for an immediate attack of the area and removal of the people living there; the prefect accused the activists from the ZAD and the organizers of the demonstration to be responsible for the damage. I believe that there are serious reasons to suspect that those politicians have acted in agreement with – maybe on orders from – Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, who had been Mayor of Nantes for years when he was appointed to head the government, and always supported the project.

The media and politicians keep denouncing the costs of the ‘devastation’, trying to get tax payers on their side. However, the damage was much less than what they claim; the businesses that got tagged and had broken windows, as well as the destroyed building equipment, either belong to Vinci or to firms working for them or to firms supporting the airport. They are all private businesses, thus the damage will be paid by their insurances. The only damages to public property were the stones torn out of the street to be thrown at the cops – it was very limited and repaired the next day – and a police station which was surprisingly deserted and not protected.

Should the airport be built, it would cost much more to the tax payers: as usual, Vinci signed a ‘Private-Public Partnership’, which means in ordinary language that the costs and losses are for the tax payers and all the profits for Vinci’s share holders.

At the moment, people defending the area (ZAD) are fearing – and preparing for – a military attack…


A photographer, Eric Forhan, took this picture of people who obviously don’t wear a uniform and can look like ‘violent demonstrators’ within a few seconds…

cops-in-jeans eric forhan