By V. Arun Kumar/ The Dawn News/ April 13, 2018
The largest anarchist-communist commune in Europe- Le ZAD- resisted a police eviction operation after a 2,500 strong French Gendarmes unit forced their way into the camp on Tuesday. The commune, known as Zone à Défendre or Zone to Defend (ZAD), was established in 2008 against a proposed airport project in a forested area, which according to the activists would destroy the ecology, and the agricultural practices. Officially ZAD is called the Zone d’aménagement différé (zone for future development).
“The best we can hope for is the ZAD helps become one of the sparks in some kind of general uprising against Macron and his neo-liberal craziness,” said Camille from the movement.
The establishment of commune escalcated in 2008 after official approval was given to the the €580 million project, which was first proposed in 1965. At the height of the movement tens of thousands of dairy farmers, peasants, anarchists, communists, green warriors, and hippies occupied the area to resist the proposal in the 1,650-hectare site. After a long debate and consistent opposition, the French government in January of last year decided to abandon the proposed airport plan in Notre-Dame-des-Landes (NDDL) area. Authorities had ordered the activists to evacuate the area by March 31 this year and warned of eviction in case they refused to do so.
The NDDL’s ZAD has given birth to larger Zone to be Defended movement across France with primary emphasis on the rejection of the capitalist economy and challenging the large infrastructure projects in defense of the environment. The movement demands that the local people should have the right to decide the future of their territories.
Today, ZAD NDDL has a brewery, a pirate radio station, an online newspaper, a weekly vegetable market, and several herds of cows, goats and sheep producing milk and meat.
The ZAD movement takes its inspiration from the Fight for the Larzac movement of 1971-81. The Larzac movement was a nonviolent civil disobedience action by farmers against the the extension of an existing military base on the Larzac plateau in South Western France. The victorious movement ended when the then President François Mitterrand formally abandoned the project.
The police operation which began on April 8 saw grenadiers using armoured vehicles fired volley of teargas into into the protesters. According to reports, 9 people were injured from flash grenades, with one suffering facial injury and around 16 injured on head by tear gas projectiles. The activists held off the police advance for hours but were eventually overrun. On the next day, police used bulldozers to demolish makeshift homes erected by the militants in the area, and arrested dozens.
This morning we are gripped by an emotion so profound, a rage so deep…“, a Zadiste spoke in an interview about his home of nine years being destroyed by the police during their eviction attempt.
The previous efforts by police to evict the protesters had failed. In 2012, more 1,000 paramilitary police forces and military to clear the ZAD in an operation code named Ops Caesar, but were unsuccessful.
In article, Hervé Kempf, a journalist said that “the disproportion of the means employed indicates that what is happening at the ZAD threatens the neo-liberal order of which they are the brutal chants: the possibility of existing differently, of seeking cooperation rather than competition, of organizing without hierarchy between beings, to settle conflicts without police or the legal system, to share the common in harmony with what is called nature, to subsist soberly, to get out of the subjugation of money.”
In ensuring solidarity with the ZAD- NDDL’s resistance, thousands have participated in protests in solidarity across France and other countries. The National Union of Journalists (SNJ) in a statement denounced the actions of the police stopping the press personals from reporting the eviction process. SNJ said that police “either prevented from approaching the area, or prevented from filming the clashes, or driven away from the eviction zone”.