France Halts Dam Construction after Protester’s Death & solidarity protest news















2 November 2014

French local authorities have decided to suspend work on a controversial dam after the death last week of an activist protesting against the project.

The executive council in charge of the project in the south-western Tarn region decided to freeze work on the dam but did not definitively scrap it.

It was impossible in the light of the tragedy to continue any work at the site of the Sivens dam project, said Thierry Carcenac, head of the region’s executive council. “What happened was terrible and should never happen again,” he added.

Remi Fraisse, 21, died in the early hours of Sunday during violent clashes between security forces and protesters against the project. It was the first death during a protest in mainland France since 1986.

Initial investigations showed traces of TNT on his clothes and skin, suggesting he may have been killed by a police stun grenade.

France’s interior minister, Bernard Cazeneuve, who has come under fire over the incident, has since banned the use of the grenades, which are designed to stun rather than kill.

The already unpopular government of President François Hollande has come under more pressure over a perceived slow response to the death, as well as allegations that police mishandled the riots.

The death has been followed by renewed clashes. Overnight on Thursday, 200 protesters rampaged through the western city of Rennes, with some overturning cars and breaking shop windows. Further protests are planned throughout the weekend and authorities are bracing for further unrest.

Ecology minister Ségolène Royal will next week gather together all warring parties to discuss the future of the Sivens dam.

Those opposed to the project say the dam will destroy a reservoir of biodiversity and will only benefit a small number of farmers. Those promoting the project, meanwhile, retort that the dam is in the public interest as it will ensure irrigation and the development of high-value crops.

from The Guardian


Hard-left and anarchist demonstrators clashed with French riot police for a second day on Sunday in protest at the death of a young green activist who was struck by a police stun grenade last weekend.

In running battles during an unauthorised demonstration in eastern Paris, 66 young protesters were arrested for attacking police and possession of offensive weapons. In Nantes and Toulouse more than 30 activists were arrested and six policemen injured on Saturday. Other demonstrations on Sunday – including a sit-in beside the Eiffel Tower and a silent march at the scene of last week’s death – passed off peacefully.

Rémi Fraisse, 21, a young botanist and pacifist, was protesting against the building of a dam in an unspoiled valley in south-western France eight days ago when police stun grenade exploded behind his back. His death – the first in a political demonstration in France for many years – has caused widespread consternation and has become a cause célèbre for French hard-left and green activists.

Radical protesters and some mainstream green politicians have blamed the young man’s death on the allegedly “authoritarian” and right-leaning policies of the reformist, Socialist Prime Minister Manuel Valls. When protesters attacked buildings and hurled molotov cocktails and acid at riot police in Nantes on Saturday, Mr Valls attempted to turn the tables. He accused the protesters of “dirtying”  the memory of the young victim who was not just a “militant ecologist” but also a “convinced pacifist”.

Work on the dam at Sivens in the Tarn departement was suspended last Tuesday, three days after the death of Mr Fraisse. The environment minister, Ségolène Royal, broke with government policy in an interview yesterday by suggesting that the dam was too large and should never have received planning permission.


from The Independent