Declaration from the Africa Collective and the Autonomous
November 6th 2005
One after another, across the country the popular neighbourhoods are burning!
It was set off by the death of two teenagers who “were running from the police.”
And then there was not a word of compassion for the victims, there were “two
police grenades thrown into a mosque” and the insulting talk of “trash that
needs to be cleaned with Karcher” from Sarkozy, the Minister of the Interior.
From then on there has been an explosion of anger that has destroyed cars,
buses, warehouses, businesses, schools, etc. Less widely reported are stories
like the following: “They (the police) entered the building, broke down the
neighbours’ door, and beat them,” says Salah, 27 years old and still shaken.
“They were chasing them and they knocked on our door and my mother answered.
She’s now at the hospital.” In the background the young man’s sister was crying.
As night fell the CRS [riot cops] were beginning to withdraw but the residents’
anger was not subsiding. “They broke down our door, it is all destroyed,”
sobbed a young woman. “Hey,” calls out a young man from his car, “tell them
it’s Sarko [Minister of the Interior Nicolas Sarkozy] who is the pyromaniac.
And this is a tinderbox.” (Agence France Presse)
Remember that dozens of young people, from Manoka to Riad, have fallen victim
to “police errors” [the term routinely used whenever the police kill anyone
in France] which are swept away with “suspended” sentences and talk that they
live in “lawless” areas that all too often call for “lawlessness” on the
part of certain police officers, etc.
They have names : Nicolas, Karim, Warren, Christophe, Mamadou, Jennifer,
Astou, Virginie, Malika, etc. They are normally between 14 and 25 years old.
Some of them are known to the courts, others are not. The angry young people
are the same ones who took to the streets by thousands, by millions, on April
21st 2002 to “Stop Le Pen” at the second round of presidential elections.
The angry young people are the same ones who went on strike against the FILLON
counter-reform. The angry young people are the same ones who overwhelmingly
voted NO in the May 29th referendum. The young people just like the adults
are victims of the neo-liberal and pro-business policies put in place by one
government after another. When the young people have acted in this way like
citizens they have run up against the neo-liberal political blindness of
the government that uses “security as a political strategy to stay in power.”
Sarkozy says clearly that “this government has had the right strategy for
the past four years.” (Le Monde 6/7/11/05) But “right for who”? Sarkozy, who
boasts that he has “significantly reduced insecurity,” has within days, by
his own irresponsible behaviour, exponentially increased the level destruction.
Sarkozy does not care about the 30-40% of people out of work, the looting
of public services in the popular neighbourhoods, the deterioration of housing,
the discrimination against young people and immigrants, etc. He has nothing
to say about these social realities, which are intolerable for values, republican
order and social peace.
An arrogant government in the image of Sarkozy laughs at the people’s wishes,
the demands of strikers and social struggles, and this leads to counter-productive
actions and social divisions for some rebellious young people, to such a point
that it becomes suspicious.
This contempt on the part of the government and bosses has led the sailors
of the SNCM to take a boat, which had to be taken back by force by the GIGN
commandos. On more than one occasion, this Sarkozien contempt pushed the undocumented
immigrants to put their lives in danger by long hunger strikes to obtain
a legal existence. In his presidential pretentions Sarkozy reminds us more
and more of how [former Socialist President] Mitterand made political and
media use of [National Front leader] Le Pen, a trick which allowed him to
stay in power for fourteen years.
Sarkozy has indeed pushed Le Pen and [far right Catholic politician] De
Villiers out of the headlines, but has also become a foil, making a “moderate
right” look better than a “delinquent left.” How else can one explain the
government’s united stand and its firm refusal of the young people’s clear
demand that “Sarkozy does not respect us, he should go.”
The call for “curfews” to be imposed on our neighbourhoods, our young people,
our children, brothers and sisters of all origins, of all cultures and all
nationalities… this is another example of this horrible contempt and brinksmanship
of this government that is unable to deal with the consequences of this “security”
trap that it has used time and time again to win over that minority of National
[Prime Minister] De Villepin talks about “firmness and justice,” our answer
is “justice and equality.”
Written in Lille on November 6th 2005.
Please note that the above text about the past 12
days riots in France comes from the Mouvement Autonome de l’Immigration and
the Collective Afrique in France and was translated by yours truly. I have
a “fast and loose” translation philosophy, meaning that when there is a choice
between readability and the original phraseology i tend to favour the former,
provided that the meaning stays the same. The original document can be seen in French.
This originally came from my blog - Sketchy Thoughts
- and is one of a number of pieces i wrote or translated regarding the riots
that rocked France in October and November 2005. To see the a complete list
of such posts, i suggest you check out the 2005 Riots In France page on the Kersplebedeb