A recent operation by the French police, intensively covered by the media, ended in the arrest and indictment of nine people under anti-terrorist laws. The nature of this operation has already undergone a change: after the revelation of inconsistency in the accusation of sabotaging French railway lines, the affair took a manifestly political turn. 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.”
The target of this operation is larger than the group of people who have been charged, against which there exists no material evidence, nor anything precise which they can be accused of. The charge of “criminal association for the purposes of terrorist activity” is exceptionally vague: what exactly is an association, and how are we to understand the reference to “purposes” other than as a criminalization of intention? As for the qualification “terrorist”, the definition in force is so broad that it could apply to practically anything – and to possess such and such a text or to go to such and such demonstration is enough to fall under this exceptional legislation.
The individuals who have been charged were not chosen at random, but because they lead a political existence. They have participated in demonstrations, most recently against the less than honorable European summit on immigration in Vichy. They think, they read books, they live together in a remote village. There has been talk of clandestinity: they have opened a grocery store, everyone knows them in the region, where a support committee has been organized against their arrest. What they are looking for is neither anonymity nor refuge, but rather the contrary: another relation than the anonymous one of the metropolis. In the end, the absence of evidence itself becomes evidence against them: the refusal of those who have been charged to give evidence against one another during their detention is presented as a new indication of their terrorism
In reality, this whole affair is a test for us. To what degree are we going to accept that anti-terrorism permits anyone to be arrested at any time? Where are we to place the limit of freedom of expression? Are emergency laws adopted under the pretext of terrorism and security compatible with democracy in the long term? Are we ready to let the police and the courts negotiate this turn to a new order? It is for us to respond to these questions, and first by demanding the end of these investigations and the immediate release of these nine people whose indictment is meant as an example for us all.
Giorgio Agamben, philosopher ;
Alain Badiou, philosopher ;
Jean-Christophe Bailly, writer ;
Anne-Sophie Barthez, professor of law ;
Miguel Benasayag, writer ;
Daniel Bensaïd, philosopher ;
Luc Boltanski, sociologist ;
Judith Butler, philosopher ;
Pascale Casanova, literary critic ;
François Cusset, philosopher ;
Christine Delphy, sociologist ;
Isabelle Garo, philosopher ;
François Gèze, La Découverte publishers ;
Jean-Marie Gleize, professor of literature ;
Eric Hazan, La Fabrique publishers ;
Rémy Hernu, professor of law ;
Hugues Jallon, La Découverte publishers ;
Stathis Kouvelakis, philosopher ;
Nicolas Klotz, film director ;
Frédéric Lordon, economist ;
Jean-Luc Nancy, philosopher ;
Bernard Noël, poet ;
Dominique Noguez, writer ;
Yves Pagès, Verticales publishers ;
Karine Parrot, professor of law ;
Jacques Rancière, philosopher ;
Jean-Jacques Rosat, philosopher ;
Carlo Santulli, professor of law ;
Rémy Toulouse, Les Prairies ordinaires publishers ;
Enzo Traverso, historian ;
Jérôme Vidal, Amsterdam publishers ;
Slavoj Zizek, philosopher.
Letter from the parents of the Tarnac nine
(Read the entire letter here.)
When all the media come together in a cacophony of lies to slander a handful of young people currently languishing in jail it is very difficult to find the right tone with which to call an end to this racket and make room for a little truth.
Many journalists bent over backwards to confirm the statements of the Minister of the Interior, even while the raids were still taking place. Those arrested were assumed to be guilty from the outset.
No one could miss the sensationalist reality cop show that our children have been forced to star in throughout the last week. The anguish, fear, and tears have submerged us and continue to do so. But probably what has hurt us the most, destroyed us the most, is the flood of lies that have been let loose. Today it was our children, tomorrow it could be yours. We are still stunned, but we are no longer paralyzed. The various facts which follow are an attempt to reestablish the truth and to silence the public condemnation.
Le Monde article on the Tarnac Nine
Investigation: The Tarnac nine
When 27 year old Mathieu B. remembers his arrest, he has this image, funny and bitter at the same time, of men in ski masks of the anti-terrorist police task force “looking for explosives in my mother’s pots of jam.” Until recently a sociology master’s student at the prestigious School of Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences (EHESS), he is one of nine young people arrested on November 11 and accused of “criminal association connected to a terrorist enterprise.” Five of them – “the hard core” according to the court – are also accused of “conspiracy to destroy railroad lines as a terrorist action”, the now notorious acts of sabotage of railroad power lines.