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The European Union must intervene to stop the authoritarian drift in France

30 March 2023

Last Saturday, a demonstration at the call of the Confédération Paysanne, Les Soulèvements de la Terre and Bassines Non Merci brought together more than 30,000 people in Sainte-Soline in France to protest against the construction of mega-basins.

The mega-basins are infrastructures that aim to monopolize water to maintain an industrial agricultural model highly dependent on mass irrigation. These infrastructures have a negative impact on natural environments and benefit only a very small minority of farmers, at the expense of all the others.

Following the exaggerated deployment of police resources, we deplore more than 200 demonstrators injured, including two people in a coma and dozens of others with serious trauma. ECVC hopes that the injured will recover quickly and sends its fraternal greetings.

ECVC expresses its dismay at the repression of the social movement in defense of water and its deep solidarity with Confédération Paysanne, Les Soulèvements de la Terre, and Bassines Non Merci. Nothing justifies such a deployment of police forces and the use of weapons of war in the face of a citizen demonstration.

These events take place in the context of a massive social mobilization against the pension reform which have also been repressed with unprecedented violence.

While multiple voices, including UN Special Rapporteur on human rights Clément Voule, and the Council of Europe's Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatović, are calling on the French government to get out of this repressive escalation, yet the President of the French Republic decides not to give in and the Minister of the Interior chooses instead to announce the dissolution of Les Soulèvements de la Terre.

All this is only an attempt to silence those who, courageously and peacefully, ask the State to take responsibility and act and in favor of the general interest in the face of the climate, environmental, and social emergency.

We ask the European Union to intervene and demand an end to the repression and criminalization of social movements in France. The right to protest is a human right and governments must respect it.

We ask the European Union to offer its mediation to restore social dialogue in France and put an end to human rights violations.

The European Union must also initiate work on the preservation and fair distribution of rights to use the common good represented by water, while enabling a transition to an agricultural model that protects this resource.




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