Saturday, January 31, 2009

They didn't use cell phones. Case closed!

Check out this image from the Guardian:

Photograph: Thierry Zoccolan/AFP/Getty Images

Must be a mighty fearsome threat to la Republique to bring 150 balaclava-clad, hyper-armed storm troopers out in force.

Right? Right. Well. Hm. The special forces, accompanied by an equally impressive media swarm, descended over Tarnac, a quaint village in central France, to arrest ... a group of young middle class idealists, including, according to the Guardian, "a Swiss sitcom actor, a distinguished clarinettist, [and] a student nurse."

It's not the most recent news item, and there has not been a lot of news since it happened, but, were it not for the attentions of the indefatigable Chris Floyd, I would have missed the story entirely, and have a feeling you out there might not have known about it, so here.

A summary:

From 'L'humanite in English:
They [many of the villagers] tell how a combined force of police, press and judiciary out of all proportion, had assembled in their town. 150 police, stationed as of 6h30 on the morning of 11 November, blocked all entry and departure from the village. The machine guns, helicopters, the attack dogs : "All that, to pick up a bunch of sleepy kids", adds Gérard, a businessman, his elbow on the counter of the grocery store, which had been searched that infamous day.

The event has reawakened some sombre ghosts, and the elders of the village don’t hesitate to evoke the times when the Gestapo would descend on their town. Similarity is no proof But everyone here has the same words on his lips : "They capture a guy from the ETA [the Basque separatist movement] practically with their hands in their pockets, but here they deploy an army, when four gendarmes would have sufficed ..."

The arrested, nine young people who had, among other things, revived the village's grocery and bar, to the delight of the villagers, were, in the words of the French Interior Minister, "'ultra-leftist-anarchist'" subversives, members of an 'invisible committee' plotting the violent downfall of capitalism." They may, or may not, have been involved in some acts of vandalism involved the TGV.

Regarding the train incident, the Independent asserts,
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"?
Floyd's running commentary on the charges brought deserves to be read in toto. It's pretty withering. Les flics could always be holding back their good evidence (sure, they always do), but from what I can tell, the slim case against the accused rests on a book the "leader," Julien Coupat, might have been involved in writing, and, (as per the Guardian), the fact that Coupat "had allegedly been seen by police near a train line that was later vandalised," and that and his girlfriend "took part in a protest outside an army recruitment centre in New York. "

Apparently, the case of the "Tarnac Nine" is the hobbyhorse of the French Interior Minister, Michèle Alliot-Marie, who "has been warning, publicly and privately, that Europe faces a grave threat from a new generation of 'ultra-leftist' terrorists" and, as Floyd points out, is part and parcel with Sarkozky's resorting to "the same kind of draconian 'anti-terrorist' laws that have been adopted by almost all the leading 'democracies' of the West to crack down on anyone who opposes the global corporatist-militarist ethos."

In the Independent account, one of the arrested (and later released) tells of a "surreal" line of police questions, including "Do you have orgies in your commune?" and that "Leaks from the police investigation suggest, darkly, that [the accused] avoided mobile phones because they wished to remain 'undetected."'

They didn't use cell phones!??? OMFG!!

Well, that settles it!

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