Anti-Terrorism in France
some analysis of the case from Poland:
|“Anti terrorism has nothing to do with “terrorism”. This is actually a political policy aimed at wiping social rebels out by force. That is why whe have to support the lately arrested rebelliousness” Eric Hazan|
WHAT IS TERRORISM?
Interesting question. Actually, there is still no internationally agreed definition of terrorism. According to wikipedia : “Common definitions of terrorism refer only to those acts which are intended to create fear (terror), are perpetrated for an ideological goal (as opposed to a lone attack), and deliberately target or disregard the safety of non-combatants.”
The word, and concept of “terrorism”, appeared in France after the 1789 revolution. In fact, the new state was using the Guillotine to get rid of all kinds of opponents. The semantic root of “terrorism” is from a way of govern, using fear to keep control on people. From a way to keep and protect the state, it went later a tool to call into question the power. Let’s say that is a tool, a nasty political tool.
WHAT ABOUT NOWADAYS?
Most of the french dictionaries include in the “terrorism” definition, the possibility of using the “terrorist tool” by states OR opponents.
Apparently, this is not the view of the European Commission which claims that terrorism consist in “any offence committed intentionally by an individual or a group against one or several countries, their institutions or their populations, and aiming at threatening them and seriously undermining or destroying the political, economic or social structures of a country.” This definition, which change easily any activist into terrorist (even more “anarchist activist” which in principle want to overthrow states) fits the french state. Indeed, the penal code define you as a terrorist as soon as you are “connected with any act intended to trouble seriously the public order using intimidation or terror”.
Notice that the “Informal Anarchist Federation” is designated as a terrorist organization by the European Union. Have you ever heard about any “Informal Anarchist Federation” elsewhere ? Obviously not, because this is only existing in state intelligence services’ files. A “box” to put troublesome people and drawn up a “terrorist threat”.
The French political instrumentalisation of terrorism, or the legal concept of “conspiracy in connection with terrorist undertaking”
Owing to this legal concept, not any concrete action is needed to be considered a terrorist. In fact, magistrates in the Justice Minister anti-terrorism unit have authority to detain people suspected of “conspiracy in connection with terrorist undertaking” while evidence is gathered against them. The main idea, is to act preventively. It is a french exceptions to reckon it is necessary to blow by the supposed terrorists BEFORE they trespass. Lately, Human Right Watch published a report about ”Counter-terrorism Laws and Procedures in France”** denouncing the french behaviour. In September 2005, among the 358 persons in jail for offence in relation with terrorism, 300 were under “conspiracy in connection with terrorist undertaking”, as if to say on the basis of presumption, neither avered nor proven. Maybe soon it will be possible to arrest people for pre-crime…
The “French Anarcho Autonomous Mouvement” or the creation of the new enemy within. The first occurence of the “Mouvance Anarcho Autonome Francaise” (MAAF) went during the spring 2007, in some right-wing newspaper. What a coincidence, the new Sarkozy’s government just seted in. It seems that Michèle Alliot-Marie, since then minister of the Interior, invented with some help from the intelligence service* the new public enemy. During a while, this MAAF had existed in the media witout arrest, only the inteligence services had kept a watch over this “mouvement”, and more precisely over the people supposedly involved in it.
The threat within start to get faces in january 2008. All of them went behind bars… On the 19th of january, Ivan et Bruno are accused of transporting a nailbomb, although they were on the way to a demonstration against detention centres carrying home made smoke powder and bent nails (to slash tyres)***. Some days later, Isa and Farid were arrested by a border patrol, during a road-check in the countryside. In their car, cops found chlorate (to make smoke powder), a map of a youth prison, and sabotage guides. They’re emprisoned under the anti-terrorist jurisdiction.
During the custody, the cops pretend that Isa’s DNA is the same than one founded on a bag holding petrol bottles under a police tow truck during the last presidential elections. Later, using the “absolute” DNA evidence, police accused Damien and Juan as well. After four months, Farid, Ivan and Bruno went out under strict judicial review and house arrest from 9 pm to 6 am. At the same time, all those investigation went into one. Accordind to the anti-terrorist jurisdiction, all the people belong to the same terrorist organisation : the MAAF.
Here was the situation before the 11th of November 2008. Then went this huge political/police/media operation****. 150 police officers, most of which belonged to the anti-terrorist brigades, came to arrest 9 people sleeping in their houses in the tiny village of Tarnac, and to search any kind of evidence against them. All that under TV cameras and, at the same time, Michele Alliot-Marie, the minister of the Interior, was holding a press conference explaining they dismanteled the dangerous terrorist organisation wich sabotated the french railways lines a few days before.
The people under investigation “were tracked by the police because they belonged to the ultra-left and the anarcho autonomous milieu.” As the entourage of the Ministry of the Interior specifies, “their discourse is very radical and they have links with foreign groups.” According to the public prosecutor: “the goal of their activity is to attack the institutions of the state, and to upset by violence – I emphasize violence, and not contestation which is permitted – the political, economic and social order.”
In this case, one might expect that investigators found weapons, explosives and Molotov cocktails. Instead of that, anti-terrorist officers discovered : train schedule, climbing gear and some “subversive” books (wich you can find in bookshops). The main evidence is an anonymous book: The Coming Insurrection.
Quickly the inconsistency in the accusation of sabotaging French railway lines is obvious and the only ”incriminating evidences” are a text and a way of life. In fact, those people were living in community, running the local grocery store, and some of them (mainly the supposed boss of the studies wich leads to suppose they write texts.
Here the explanation of the authorities’ behavior by Christophe Chaboud, head of Counterterrorist coordination Unit since may 2007 :
WHO ARE THE TERRORISTS?
Our living conditions, always more insufferable, rest on fear. Fear of being jobless, or to being unable to make ends meet. Fear of police, fear of jail. Because somehow, the billy club and his acceptance guarantee social interactions.
In this upside down world, terrorism doesn’t mean forcing billions of humans to survive in intolerable conditions, doesn’t mean contaminating earth. Terrorism doesn’t mean improving control, keeping scientific and technological research which subdue always more our lives and affect irreversibly the nature. Terrorism doesn’t mean locking in people because they miss a stupid sheet of paper. Terrorism doesn’t mean killing us at work to make bosses always richer. Terrorism doesn’t mean dropping bombs on whole populations. No, all this is called : economy, civilization, democracy, progress, law and order…
* since july 1, 2008 „Direction Centrale du Renseignement
*** HERE IS THE LETTER IVAN AND BRUNO WROTE IN JAIL :
Hello to all the friends, to all the people who haven’t accepted the
We’ve been arrested on January 19th. Two of us are in jail, while the
Our aim: to be visible from the locked-in sans-papiers, knowing
For cops and justice, this excuse was found: we had the material to make a nailbomb. This is what we are charged of:
It’s quite frightening. So much for the facts. Let’s add a bit of anysis to it. The way we’re being treated is surely not related to what we had with us or to what we wanted to do with it. The state is criminalizing revolts and tries to kill any «non-aligned » dissidence. It is our very ideas and ways to struggle (outside of political parties, trade unions, or any other organisation of this kind) that are being targeted… Facing anger that it doesn’t manage to supervise or integrate, the State points out and isolates an enemy within. The police and the secret service files are building « profiles ». In our case, it is the «anarcho-autonomous » figure that’s being used, which authoritieses relate to terrorism. They need to build a threat to create consensus within the population, to strenghten their control and legitimate repression.
That’s why we are in jail. This is the solution the State chooses, to deal with illegalisms and so called «risky populations». Now, the motto is «lock in more and longer». More and more efficient controls. Scaring punishements are here to make us know that we should stay put on the place given. This atmosphere guarantees for those who have or take advantage of power, a society in which everybody is aware that we can’t cross the lines which have been drawn for us, which are surrounding us, which are compressing us; not without paying an high price. We struggle with migrants, because we know that it is the same police that is controling, that it is the same boss who is exploiting, that these are the same walls imprisoning. The day we tried to go to the demonstration, we wanted to shout « Freedom » in echo with the prisoniers, to show that we were many to hear them revolting these last months. We wanted to light a smoke candle, to try to get as close as we could from the prison gates, to shout «no more detention centers», to show our determination to live free.
This struggle, in which we can see ourselves, is a common ground to build complicities; it is a way to express our own revolt. We don’t consider ourselves like «victims of repression». There is no fair repression, no fair imprisonment. There is just repression, and its fonction of control, its role in maintaining established orders: the power of those who possess against the dispossessed. When everobody walks in line, it’s easier to strike those who go out of it.
We hope that we are many, wishing to own our lifes fully, sharing this desire to build and interweave solidarities which will +give birth to upcoming revolts.
Bruno and Ivan, from the jails of Fresnes and Villepinte (close to Paris), april 2008.