[diggers350] French 'Eco-terrorism' arrests The 'grocer terrorists'
suburbanstudio at runbox.com
Mon Jan 5 13:50:03 GMT 2009
A week of solidarity has been called between the 15th and 25th January .
10 days of mobilization against anti-terrorist law .
More informations (in french) here.
They are also calling to create local solidarity committee...
Rural idyll or terrorist hub?
The village that police say is a threat to the state
Nine deny anarchist plot, saying they were just seeking the simple life
* Angelique Chrisafis in Tarnac, France
* The Guardian, Saturday 3 January 2009
Police in the remote village of Tarnac
Balaclava-clad police swooped on the remote village of Tarnac at dawn
and arrested four men and five women, aged 22 to 34, over terrorist
claims. Photograph: Thierry Zoccolan/AFP/Getty Images
High on a bleak mountain plateau in central France, the tiny village of
Tarnac is fiercely proud of its grocer's shop. A smiling lady with a
perm stands behind the old-fashioned till amid shelves stocked with
everything from fly-swats and fairy lights to socks and soya milk.
Elderly villagers boast that thanks to the shop, they don't have to
leave their cottages to travel miles for bread in this vast, depopulated
rural wilderness of central France known as "the desert". Posters
advertise tea dances and cinema club screenings of Billy the Kid.
But the French government claims that Tarnac and its small shop are the
headquarters of a dangerous cell of anarchist terrorists plotting to
overthrow the state. Images of balaclava-clad police swooping to arrest
suspects in Tarnac were compared by bewildered villagers to a strange,
rural action movie. The government hinted that locals were too gormless
to have noticed the terrorist activity in their midst. But after weeks
of controversy, supporters are rising up to defend the young people of
Known as the Tarnac Nine, four men and five women aged 22 to 34 are
being investigated over far-left terrorism following dawn raids by
police in November that targeted several addresses, including a farm
with a few goats, chickens and vegetables. Those arrested include a
Swiss sitcom actor, a distinguished clarinettist, a student nurse and
Benjamin Rosoux, an Edinburgh University graduate who runs the grocer's
shop and its adjoining bar-restaurant.
The alleged ringleader, Julien Coupat, 34, is still being held in prison
despite a judge's ruling that he be released. A former business and
sociology student from an affluent Parisian suburb, Coupat moved to
Tarnac in search of a non-consumerist lifestyle, saying he wanted to
live frugally. The poor village of 350 people is home to a growing
number of young people who have escaped the city for a simple life and
sense of community. Together, the newcomers ran the shop, a mobile
delivery service, the restaurant, a cinema club and an informal library.
Police said Coupat and his archaeologist girlfriend had been under
surveillance for months. The arrests followed six incidents of vandalism
on France's high-speed railway lines, which caused delays for thousands
of travellers but no casualties. Coupat and his girlfriend had allegedly
been seen by police near a train line that was later vandalised.
The couple had come to the attention of the FBI months earlier when they
took part in a protest outside an army recruitment centre in New York.
They and acquaintances are said to have often travelled to protests and
demonstrations such as a recent protest at a European summit on
immigration at Vichy.
French police say Coupat was the author of an anonymous tract against
capitalism and modern society, The Coming Insurrection. The Paris
prosecutor said the group was intent on armed struggle and used the farm
in Tarnac as a "meeting point and place of indoctrination" for "violent
action". But France's Human Rights League, opposition politicians and
intellectuals criticised the arrests as an attack on civil liberties and
an abuse of France's draconian anti-terrorist laws. Defence lawyers say
there is no evidence for terrorist charges.
Inspired by the indignant villagers of Tarnac, support committees for
the Tarnac Nine have sprung up across France and in the US, Spain and
Greece. In Moscow, supporters demonstrated outside the French embassy. A
national protest is planned in Paris this month. The interior minister,
Michèle Alliot-Marie, has been challenged in parliament over the case
but insists there are "concrete elements" to support terrorism charges.
In the bar adjoining Tarnac's grocery store, as farmers tucked into
their lunch, Jérôme, 28, who moved from the city seeking an alternative
lifestyle in Tarnac, said he knew those who had been arrested and had
stayed at their farm. "The portrayal of this place has been absurd. The
farm is a very collective place and the village has a convivial
atmosphere, doors are always open. They say we lived a secretive
existence hidden away in the woods. That's not true - the farm is beside
the road. They talk of a 'group' when there is no group. They say there
was a ringleader ... but there is no boss here, that's an absurdity.
It's against our whole thinking."
He said the government was trying to create an idea of an "enemy
within", branding all forms of leftwing demonstrations and activism as
The government said those arrested did not have mobile phones in order
to avoid being detected. Their supporters said there was poor network
coverage in the area and they shunned mobile phones as consumerist.
Tarnac sits on the plateau of Millevaches in the northern corner of
Corrèze, in rural Limousin, famous for its cattle, poverty and
emigration. The surrounding countryside was used by the resistance
during the second world war and the village, which for decades had a
communist mayor, has long been leftwing.
Across the hill from the farm where Coupat was arrested, Thierry
Letellier, the independent mayor of the neighbouring village, tended his
sheep farm. He said: "They were my neighbours, helping me on the farm
and selling my meat at the shop. They were kind, intelligent and spoke
several languages. They were politicised, on the left and clearly
anti-capitalist like lots of people here, but they were people active in
community life who wanted to change society at a local level first. To
say that they were the descendants of Baader-Meinhof or the Red Brigades
with no proof, I'm completely against that."
He dismissed the interior minister's claims that it was easy for
"terrorists" to move into a remote village where people were not very
bright and wouldn't notice. "It's true that members of Eta [the Basque
terrorist group] have been found in the area, but they were hidden, they
had no support, no one knew them. These people were a key part of our
Coupat's well-connected doctor father said the government was using the
case to "intimidate youth".
One man, drinking in Tarnac's bar, said: "Did they do something silly or
not? It's on the news every night but we're no closer to the truth. I
feel we're being manipulated."
Chopping wood outside his house, André Filippin, 65, said: "It's
ridiculous. I see them at the shop every day of the year, I help them
with their drains, they help me. They are people who came to Corrèze to
change their lives, to help people. We don't view them as terrorists here."
Simon Fairlie wrote:
> Note also that they were arrested on 11 November just two days after
> the publication of the article in the Observer, claiming that "eco-
> terrorists" were plotting to commit murderous outrages in the UK (The
> Observer later withdrew the article because the police unit who
> issued the press release upon which the article was based could not
> substantiate their allegations.
> On 3 Jan 2009, at 23:44, Gerrard Winstanley wrote:
>> Cabbage-patch revolutionaries? The French 'grocer terrorists'
>> The villagers of Tarnac were charmed by the self-sufficient students
>> who set up a commune in their midst. Little did they realise that
>> their new neighbours were anarchists bent on overthrowing capitalism.
>> Or so the police claimed. So what is the truth?
>> Thursday, 18 December 2008
>> A police officer arrests a suspect on in the French city of Tarnac
>> where alleged anarchists have been arrested
>> They are brilliant ex-students from bourgeois families who live in a
>> farm commune in the green, empty, centre of France. To the delight of
>> local people, they have revived the defunct village shop and bar. They
>> are also, according to the French Interior Minister,
>> "ultra-leftist-anarchist" subversives, members of an "invisible
>> committee" plotting the violent downfall of capitalism.
>> Since nine of the alleged "terrorist grocers" were arrested one month
>> ago, severe doubts have surfaced about the French government's
>> allegations. Villagers at Tarnac in Corrèze in south-west France and
>> parents of the suspects have campaigned for the investigation against
>> the so-called "Tarnac Nine" to be dropped. The whole notion of an
>> "ultra-left" terrorist threat is an absurdity, they say: the
>> convenient fantasy of an "authoritarian", centre-right government.
>> But what of the explosives planted this week – a few days before
>> Christmas – in Printemps, the Paris department store? All the evidence
>> suggests that this bizarre incident was not the work of an Afghan
>> group, as a rambling warning letter to the French news agency claimed.
>> Investigators, and independent experts, said yesterday that the
>> ageing, unfused, and therefore non-threatening sticks of dynamite
>> found in a lavatory cistern were probably planted by a lone crank or
>> by a would-be subversive group on the far left.
>> The French intelligence expert and former intelligence official Eric
>> Dénécé believes that the evidence points leftwards. "[The ultra left]
>> is a threat which should be taken seriously," he said yesterday.
>> "There is a real resurgence of these movements, driven by groups in
>> Germany, Britain and the United States.
>> "They attract relatively young people, who are often highly
>> intelligent. They start off in eco-terrorism or in the most radical
>> wings of the animal rights or anti-capitalist movements."
>> The evidence that the Printemps "toilet bomb" was planted by someone
>> on the far left comes mostly from the language of the warning letter
>> to Agence France-Presse. There were no religious references or Koranic
>> texts. Instead, the letter spoke of "capitalist" stores and
>> "revolutionary" movements – words never used by Islamist radicals.
>> Police sources indicated yesterday that the "Islamist" line of inquiry
>> for the Printemps "bomb" had been more or less abandoned. They said
>> that inquiries now concentrated on the possibility of a malicious
>> stunt by someone with a grudge against the store or a "clumsy" attempt
>> to spread fear by an extremist group, "probably on the left".
>> The evidence for an ultra left-wing Printemps plot is thin – so far.
>> The evidence against the Tarnac Nine is equally thin – but intriguing.
>> Seven of the "nine" have been placed under formal investigation by
>> magistrates but released pending further inquiries. Two – the alleged
>> ringleaders, a boyfriend and girlfriend, Julien Coupat and Yildune
>> Levy, aged 34 and 25 – remain in custody, accused of "associating with
>> wrong-doers with terrorist aims". Their parents have been refused
>> permission to see them.
>> One month after the arrests, the only evidence assembled against the
>> couple suggests that they were linked to a series of crude but
>> effective attacks on the overhead power cables of railway lines.
>> In October and November, small, hooked, U-shaped pieces of metal were
>> suspended on the 25,000 volts power supply of high-speed lines,
>> bringing down the wires when a Train à Grande Vitesse (TGV) passed. No
>> one was hurt, or could possibly have been hurt in these escapades,
>> except the attackers themselves. This was vandalism certainly and
>> maybe politically motivated sabotage. The attacks caused enormous
>> annoyance and heartache for thousands of passengers whose trains were
>> blocked for several hours. But can such activities really be described
>> as "terrorism"?
>> On 8 November, M. Coupat and Mme Levy were briefly questioned and
>> released by police in the early hours of the morning on a small road
>> east of Paris, 250 miles from their home in Corrèze. A couple of miles
>> away, an hour or so later, a TGV ran into one of the U-shaped hooks on
>> a high-speed line.
>> It was three days before investigators linked M. Coupat's name to a
>> subversive book published last year, signed by the "Invisible
>> Committee". The book describes acts of civil disobedience, including
>> ways to block railway lines. A dawn police raid was made on 11
>> November on the commune where he lived in the pretty hill village of
>> Tarnac. Co-ordinated raids were also made on the homes of Mme Levy and
>> other friends of M. Coupat in the greater Paris area, in Rouen and in
>> Defence lawyers say that no evidence has yet been produced to link any
>> of the other suspects to the TGV attacks. No direct evidence – other
>> than their presence close to the scene of one incident – has been
>> produced against M. Coupat and Mme Levy. Residents of the Tarnac
>> commune – up to 20 young people and children at any one time – did not
>> appear to be sinister or reclusive. All were on good terms with their,
>> mostly well-heeled, parents. They were admired by their conservative,
>> farming neighbours for their hard work and their resurrection of the
>> village shop.
>> Leaks from the police investigation suggest, darkly, that they avoided
>> mobile phones because they wished to remain "undetected". The commune
>> members say that they shunned them as symbols of a consumerist
>> The case of the "Tarnac Nine" seemed initially to be an enormous coup
>> for the French government and especially for the Interior Minister,
>> Michèle Alliot-Marie. Ever since she took office last May, Mme
>> Alliot-Marie has been warning, publicly and privately, that Europe
>> faces a grave threat from a new generation of "ultra-leftist"
>> terrorists, who hope to revive the 1970s activities of the German
>> Baader-Meinhof gang, the Italian Red Brigades and the French "Action
>> On the afternoon of 11 November, Mme Alliot-Marie announced the arrest
>> of the Tarnac Nine, amid great media fanfare. They were suspected, she
>> said, of being part of a secret, well-organised movement of
>> "ultra-left, anarchist, autonomists" with international links.
>> "These people wanted to attack the SNCF [the publicly owned French
>> railway company] as a symbol of the state," she said.
>> Since then, the investigation has made little progress. Judges ordered
>> the release of two suspects, then another three. Villagers in Tarnac
>> have protested against what they see as an "absurd" attack on young
>> people living a harmless, alternative lifestyle and providing useful
>> local services. A few days ago, more than 150 people attended a
>> support meeting in the Tarnac village hall, addressed by the parents
>> of four of the suspects.
>> "In Tarnac, they planted carrots without bosses or leaders," said the
>> mother of one suspect, who declined to be identified. "And these are
>> the people that the police suspect of being super-organised."
>> Awkward questions have been asked in the French press and by
>> opposition politicians and even within President Nicolas Sarkozy's
>> centre-right government. There may be evidence against two of the
>> "nine", but how can aggravated vandalism be described as "terrorism"?
>> Why has so much been made by Mme Alliot-Marie of what may – at most –
>> have been an act of priggish civil disobedience by a couple of
>> brilliant young people with idealist-extremist ideas?
>> "Our freedom is under threat. We are living in a police state," said
>> Jocelyne Coupat, the mother of the chief suspect. She and her husband,
>> Gérard, both doctors, have campaigned tirelessly for their son's
>> release and asserted his innocence. They live in a wealthy suburb west
>> of Paris and have always voted for the centre-right.
>> Michel Levy, the father of Yildune, has a rather different background.
>> He took part in the student protests of May 1968 and remains a friend
>> of the leader of the protests, Daniel Cohn-Bendit. His daughter is an
>> archaeologist with a first class degree. Her boyfriend, M. Coupat,
>> attended prestigious business and economics colleges in the Paris area
>> and speaks six languages. "They are trying to make them out to be
>> Bonnie and Clyde. It's a load of old rubbish," said M. Levy.
>> Benjamin Rosoux, 30, the main "shopkeeper" at Tarnac, was among the
>> seven people arrested and later released. He has since complained to
>> the French press about the "surreal" questioning by police
>> investigators. He said that they asked questions such as: "Do you have
>> orgies in your commune?" or made accusations such as: "Your heads are
>> full of rubbish because you have read too many books."
>> He confesses to left-wing "militant" views but rejects the accusation
>> that the Tarnac commune was a kind of terrorist base camp.
>> By using the word "terrorist" as "a kind of badge of infamy", he said,
>> the government was trying to undermine "anyone who opposes its
>> policies, anyone who has a different vision of the world". Both
>> investigations – the Printemps toilet bomb and the "terrorist" grocers
>> of Corrèze – continue...
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>> campaigners involved with THE LAND IS OURS landrights network
>> (based in the UK web ref. www.tlio.org.uk)
>> The list was originally concerned with the 350th anniversary of The
>> Diggers (& still is concerned with their history). The Diggers
>> appeared at the end of the English Civil war with a noble mission
>> to make the earth 'a common treasury for all'. In the spring of
>> 1999 there were celebrations to remember the Diggers vision and
>> their contribution.
>> TASH FROM THE HILL
>> You can find out more about the Diggers and see illustrations at:
>> Brendan would like me to remind you that is a private web site
>> which is not part of The Land Is Ours
>> And neither is this web site: http://www.downingstreetmemo.com/
>> Yahoo! Groups Links
> Diggers350 - an e-mail discussion/information-share list for campaigners involved with THE LAND IS OURS landrights network (based in the UK web ref. www.tlio.org.uk)
> The list was originally concerned with the 350th anniversary of The Diggers (& still is concerned with their history). The Diggers appeared at the end of the English Civil war with a noble mission to make the earth 'a common treasury for all'. In the spring of 1999 there were celebrations to remember the Diggers vision and their contribution.
> TASH FROM THE HILL
> You can find out more about the Diggers and see illustrations at: http://www.bilderberg.org/land/
> Brendan would like me to remind you that is a private web site which is not part of The Land Is Ours
> And neither is this web site: http://www.downingstreetmemo.com/memos.html
> Yahoo! Groups Links
More information about the Diggers350