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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Repression. Academics say: "We accuse"

by Camille Bauer

RÉPRESSION. LE « J’ACCUSE » DES UNIVERSITAIRES

Translated Friday 13 September 2019, by Annette Mitchell

REPRESSION. ACADEMICS SAY:
"WE ACCUSE"
Friday, May 10, 2019
Camille Bauer

Written in the wake of the May Day protests, a forum of teachers and researchers denouncing "state violence" against the Yellow Vest movement gathered nearly 10,000 signatures in a few days.
In the footsteps of the world of culture and the doctors, academics took their turn to denounce the unprecedented violence deployed against the Yellow Vest movement. An op-ed entitled "We accuse" - a reference to Émile Zola’s famous “I accuse” article written at the time of the Dreyfus affair - has been running on social media. It was written in the wake of a May Day marked by an unprecedented display of police brutality and has already garnered more than 9,000 signatures, many more than from the academic world alone. "This is a sign that it is definitely necessary to publicize the stakes of this alarming situation," say the authors, gathered in the Yellow Jackets Teaching-Research Collective.

What does this petition say? It denounces the behavior of a power "that has constantly ignored the requests of the Yellow Vests to ease their destabilizing scope". It also accuses the government of using "anti-libertarian techniques" and "weapons of war banned in all Western countries against civilians, ignoring the repeated warnings of several international organizations."

Hundreds of serious injuries caused by LBD (semi-automatic weapons)
"May 1st was the breaking point," Maurizio Gribaudi, one of the petition’s researchers, told a news conference on Thursday. The level of police violence and in particular the lies that portrayed people who had sought refuge as dangerous assailants of a hospital, prompted these academics to speak out. "During the Labor Law period, I thought we had attained the heights of repression, but this is 2016 to the power of 10!" sums up Pascal Maillard, professor of literature at the University of Strasbourg.

Referring to the hundreds of serious injuries caused by the LBD, Jean-Marc Salmon, who worked on these issues with the Human Rights Defender, recalls that this bullet launcher is considered "a weapon of war, exported from Switzerland where it is manufactured." The sociologist is also concerned about the expansion of surveillance, via wiretaps, as well as the systematic listing of the injured Yellow Vests in the SI-VIC, a file created in the aftermath of the Bataclan attacks for health purposes to monitor the victims - and no longer used for this purpose.

The academics denounce mass preventative arrests, the use of techniques such as the "crowding" of protesters to trap them and, more generally, the criminalization of the social movement. A veritable arsenal of propaganda and repression has been put in place to marginalize Yellow Vests and their demands by making them look like violent activists. "I think there is really an attempt to provoke civil war in the face of a movement that wanted to talk, start a dialogue and came to do it peacefully," says Maurizio Gribaudi.

This repression reflects the unease of the authorities faced with the renewed democratic practice of the Yellow Vests. "What they reveal is that the tools of politics are mobilized only by the proponents of power," recalls historian Michèle Riot-Sarcey, one of the initiators of the petition. Like the workers who fought for a democratic and social republic, they want the words to become true. They are lifting the veil of illusion. A veil that the government, in between the wider public debate and repression, is doing everything to keep in place.

Camille Bauer


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