after 3 weeks of tranquility, a time of reflection and intensive reading about the things related to this "affair", I have began to write this letter.
I was released from Fresnes prison around 3 weeks ago, a little disorientated. I didn’t expect to be released as quickly in face of what seems to be a well-organised trap. To regain open-air and to see the world’s horizon was, of course, a big relief ; you quickly become used to the confine of the walls and railings and that seem to last for centuries instead of two or three weeks. I’m grateful to all the people who engaged themselves to free us. Despite of legal arbitrary, I’m sure that the pressure of support committees, parents, friends, and so on, had a weighty impact. I would like to thank you together with my fellow accused, but as you may understand, we are forbidden to contact each other or we will face the penalty of returning to prison.
However, I am certain that this release is due to the advantage of being born white, having had the opportunity of education, having parents and friends from privileged environments. There mobilization has been more effective than it would have been if I were born somewhere else and came from another background.
I am worried yet because two of my friends are still in jail because of absurd reasons. I am also very preoccupied because some hundreds of people I met during my short detention did not have my privileges. In the last years, french prisons have swallowed up a big part of the youth. This section of society being viewed as not easily assimilated are constantly harassed, ever condemned and yet still refuse to get into line with a sweltering society. One fact is quite clear when you walk in a prison yard. A large part of the population (often serving longer sentences) come from working class suburbs and are to a large extent institutionalized.
We would also like to draw attention to the incredible number of people imprisoned on "remand", a so-called "special treatment". Six, nine months, one, two or three years without any trial and often without any significant evidence. No doubt, it’s more difficult to find people willing to testify to your good behavior and to offer credible guarantees that you will appear for trial when you come from Villiers-le-Bel, Aubervilliers or Bagneux [translator’s note: working-class cities in Paris’ suburbs with many migrants], when your parents are viewd as "foreigners" and don’t master magistrates’ and medias’ language or when they can’t prove a stable and especially well-recognised professional activity.
However, I don’t want to dwell on the dark side, solidarity really exists inside. The criminal laws and politics of the current governement is acting like a time bomb. The more they pack people in jail, the more people’s paths will come together building a bridge between environments which are consciously separated outside.
The proximity of politics, police and media reactions (this triangle works so well, why not fuse it officially?) between Tarnac’s and Villiers-le-Bel’s affairs described in some texts is justified for several reasons. [translator’s note: in Villiers-le-Bel, there were riots after the death of two young people crashed by a police car. Riots were followed by a big media-related police operation]
November 2005 riots and demos against "Contract Première Embauche", presidential election, Villiers-le-Bel, reform of the university : two disjointed parts of the youth were feeding together the governement’s paranoia.
The governement’s reaction on both side was simelar. On one hand, the "fight against youth’ gang" justifies the repression in suburbs after youth’ riots. On the other hand, the forging of a so-called "autonom anarchism" of "ultra-link small groups" is being used to scare people who were beginning revolt themselves during social movements. In both cases, a long-lasting policy of communication draws the borders of an "inner enemy" and leads to an over-exposure by the media. After those disproportionated and media assisted display’s of force, many people were purely and simply sent to jail. In addition to those people incarcerated since the riots of november 2005, five people are still in jail after the operation in "Villiers-le-Bel" and are still awaiting trial which is not comming due to a lack of proof.
Now it’s our turn. The hunting of "autonomous anarchists" opened one year ago. Since december 2007, at least 6 people were taken for questioning by "anti-terrorist" jurisdictions about supposed facts which did not come under "anti-terrorism" jurisdictions before. The net is tightening : no barres hold.
The support groups have already widely explained how much the use of anti-terrorist tools represents a significant change in the procedures of the government and its ways of "managing" dissent. Some scenarios already seen in several countries during the past few years (USA, UK, Germany, Italy...) are now being heavily pushed in France, signing in a regime where the exception is becoming the rule. Most of the times these procedures have nothing to do with "terrorism", whichever definition you choose to give to this word. They follow the age-old logic of "repressing one to frighten a hundred". In the past, "a few" would have been hung at the entrance of the city to give an example.
In our case, it quickly became clear that the "case of the SNCF sabotages" was only a suitable excuse to unveil an operation of communication and of "preventive neutralisation" that was planned a long time ago (since Michèle-Alliot Marie became the minister of interior affairs). The promptness of the startup of "Operation Taïga" and the absence of material elements from the file reveals quickly the lies of the police. Yet there had been important efforts to try to spice up this dull story. A "small isolated group devoted to clandestinity", an "incontested leader", his "right-hand", his "lieutenants", some "friendly relationships" managed in the village out of "pure strategy". Yet nothing will do, people definitely believe more in what they live than in what they see on TV.
After each individual answered the question of its participation or non-participation to the "deterioration acts" on the SNCF cables, what is left is this terribly vague accusation of "criminal conspiracy linked to a terrorist network". For that matter, it is the only charge hanging over the accused, including myself.
This accusation is based on a body of mixed information and suppositions, gathered by the intelligence services, but only articulated in such a clear way by a story made up by the very immaginative police. The friendly relations, each one political in it’s own way, become without any doubt organizational affiliations or even hierarchies. A series of encounters, the participation of a few to some demonstrations, the presence of some during the social movements of the past few years, become the proof of the reason to be strictly ’political’ (in the most classical and literal meaning of the term) of an identifiable "group" that can be isolated as a (cancerous?) "cell". This is a complete untruth that determines a certain number of serious misinterpretations of what have been our different ideas for years.
The offense of "conspiracy" allows to include at once the entire existence of the people targeted, and everything can therefore become part of the accusation : litterature, spoken languages, skills, connections with people from other countries, mobility, lack of cell phones, breaking with one’s plan of career or one’s social background, romance, etc.
The use of these "anti-terrorist" tools is in the end just represent the agressivity of a power that knows it’s threatened from all sides. It is not about being indignated. It’s more important not to be fooled by this operation of political police. It is only the attempt from those in power to communicate to the social structure their own paranoia. This paranoia might not be completely irrational.
A lot of things have been said about this essay called "the Coming Insurrection" (*) (« l’insurrection qui vient ») and everybody has his/her own hypothesis in order to say WHO is behind this "invisible committee" signature. This question is only interesting from a strictly police point of view. The anonymity policy choice which has been made needs to be seen, in my view, not as a particular paranoia of the authors (even if today it would be one hundred more times justified), but as an attachment to an essentialy collective speech. Not the speech of an "authors collective" that could be counted, but a speech forged in the vagaries of a movement where thought would not be ascribed to one individual or another as an author.
This book sparks off a lot of disagreement, even disaproval, even including among us, who have yet made the effort to read and understand it. It seems to me that it is the political writing aim : put what needs to be discussed at the highest priority, make it inescapable, even if it means being crude and unsubtle.
All those who, in addition, pretend to know WHO is the book’s author are purely and simply lying or take their hypothesis for garanted.
Recent "readings" of this book, in particular the police and some lounge criminologists, question the "radicality" of the matter. This "radicalism" is thrown back to us as an identity characteristic, even as a charge which is closely admitted. I don’t consider myself particulary radical, with the meaning of being ready to agree acknowledgements, thoughts and acts (what nobody unfortunely does or has done for a long time). In the contrary, the situation is radical and even more and more eager. It determines diffused radicalisation movements, which are not under some vague small group dependance. In my every day life at work (in my grocery or at the bar) or when I was in prison, I discuss, I listen to what is being said, is being thought, felt, and I sometimes feel quite moderate in regard to the anger which is raising up all over the map. This government is whithout any doubt right to be afraid of losing social situation control, but we will not serve its preventive terror cam paign, because the wind is about to changing. It comes from Mediteranian.
There would still be a lot of things to say, doubts to clear, manipulations to thwart, but this is just the beginning. Thus my position is in agreement with the ones of the support groups which are flourishing just about everywhere : abandonment of the "terrorist enterprise" and "criminal conspiracy" charges, immediate liberation for Yldune and Julien and all of those who are imprisoned on such charges, to begin with.
The time will come when we will have to settle our scores, for the huge harm that has been done to us, to Tarnac, and admit that is just an additionnal provocation against all those who do not accept the current disastrous situation.