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In massive over-reach, French raid anti-nuke occupation with 500 gendarmes

On February 22, the French government mounted a military-style assault on a small community of anti-nuclear activists who had been watchdogging, and living on, a site for the country’s proposed high-level radioactive waste dump in the Champagne-Ardenne region of France near the village of Bure.

As many as 500 armed gendarmes in riot gear moved in at dawn, with bulldozers, trucks, helicopters, drones and chainsaws to confront about 15 occupiers, self-described “owls” who had been living in tree houses and lookout towers for the past 18 months keeping watch over a forest designated to be torn down for the country’s first high-level radioactive waste repository.  

The gendarmes broke down doors, tore down the tree houses, demolished encampments and dragged people away under arrest. To justify this stunt, the Macron government claimed the zone was a ZAD —zone à défendre or zone to defend —used to justify clearing out what they define as a militant or anarchist occupation that is blocking a development project. 

After removing those occupying the Lejuc Wood — designated for ventilation shafts for the dump —they headed to the House of Resistance in Bure, headquarters for the national campaign against the dump, battering down the door and removing residents by force. The House of Resistance has anchored the anti-Bure campaign for 20 years.

Our full story on this will appear February 27, 2018 in Counterpunch. A link will be posted here then.