LE MONDE | 16.03.09
For four month now, the legal & media spectacle titled „The Tarnac affair“ won’t come to an end. Was Julien Coupat to come out of prison for Christmas? For New Year’s Eve then? Or would Friday the 13th be his lucky day? No. In the end ‚we‘ will keep him a bit longer in jail, locked into his new role as ‚leader of an invisible cell‘.
Since a few people in power appear to have an interest in letting this charade go on, even beyond the limits of the grotesque, for the sake of collective clarification, we will have to take once more the garb that has been knit for us („the 9 from Tarnac“).
Firstly. As journos were burrowing into our garbage cans, the cops were fingering our assholes. Not the funniest of experience. For months you have been opening our mail, eavesdropping our phones, harassing our friends and video-tapping our homes. And you delectate in these actions. We, the ’nine‘, we endure them, like so many others. We have been atomised by judicial procedures, nine times one single individual, whereas you are one administration, one police force, and the one and whole logic of one system. As we stand now, we have been double-dealt, and the stake is already erected. So please don’t expect us to play cricket.
Secondly. Of course you do desperately need ‚individual suspects‘ making up ‚cells‘ belonging to a ‚movement‘ relating to a certain ‚fraction‘ on the political chessboard. You need all this, because it constitutes your last and only handle on an increasing part of reality, which cannot be longer reduced to ‚the society‘ you pretend to protect. You are right, there is something happening in France, but it is definitely not the rebirth of the ‚ultra left‘ [*N1]. We are merely symbol people, a, rather rustic, crystallisation of the conflict that criss-crosses our times. The media-police edge of a ruthless conflict opposing an order that is collapsing against everything and anyone who dares pretend to survive it. It is rather obvious that when looking at what is going in Guadeloupe, Martinique [*N2], in the banlieues (big cities suburbs) and in the universities, among the wine-growers, the fishermen, the railway workers and the sans-papiers (undocumented immigrants), you will soon need more judges than teachers to control the mess. You don’t get it – and don’t bank on the sleuths of DCRI (French home security intelligence service) to enlighten you – they’re just as clueless.
Thirdly. We can but notice that there is much more joy in our friendships and our ‚company of miscreants‘ than in your offices and court houses.
Fourthly. Whereas it would appear entirely appropriate to you, given the seriousness of your employ, to question us regarding our political thoughts and our friendships, for us, we do not feel like a duty to talk to you about these matters. No life will ever be entirely transparent to the State and its judicial apparatus. You wanted to shed some light on certain things? You have rather managed to spread obscurity. And as rumour has reached us, in order to escape your glance, the numbers are growing of those who go to demos without mobile phones, who encrypt their messages, and who take the long winding way home to reach their homes. As the saying goes: makes sense.
Fifthly. From the start of this „affair“, you appear to have deliberately given great credence to the statements of a mythomaniac witness, heard under the cover of anonymity. And you persist, a brave stand we admit, to somehow believe this heap of lies, reviving a practice, delation, that ‚honoured‘ France a few scores of years ago [*N3]. It would be almost moving, if this did not mainly frame the prosecution of Julien Coupat, and hence his ongoing detention. And as if this kind of ‚witness statement‘ was necessary to make arbitrary arrests, like in Villiers-le Bel (Paris suburb) after the riots there.
And finally. Given the fact that the margin of liberty left to us is henceforth rather limited, and that the only moments we can escape your clutches are actually the ones in which you subject us to questioning, what you do regularly; And that Julien Coupat has now for the fourth time seen his request for release denied; And that he is our friend; And that he is no more than we are: We are to state that from this day onwards, following the heroic tradition of Bartleby, „we would rather not“. Meaning roughly: That we will speak no more till you liberate him, that you abandon the qualification of ‚leader‘ for him, and of ‚terrorists‘ for us all. In one word, that you drop the whole case.
For all those, wherever they are, fight and do not resign. For all those who are not suffocated by resentment, and make joy their line of offensive. For our friends, our children, our brothers and sisters, and the support committee. Have no fear, harbour no commiseration. We are not heroes, we are not martyrs. It is precisely because this ‚affair‘ had no legal standing from its very inception that we need to bring the conflict in the realm of politics. What the ever increasing number of attacks launched against us by an ever more absurd political power calls for is a generalisation of collective practices of self-defense everywhere where it becomes a necessity.
There are no nine people to be saved. There is a regime to be felled.
Aria, Benjamin, Bertrand, Elsa, Gabrielle, Manon, Matthieu, Yldune are, together with Julien Coupat, indicted in what has become known as „The Tarnac Affair“.
‚Q ’n‘ D‘ translation by Patrice Riemens
Bangalore, St Patrick’s Day, 2009
[*N1] „Ultra-gauche“ in French. A neologism of sorts coined by interior minister Michelle Alliot-Marie in a bid to distinguish it from traditional extreme left (‚extreme gauche) of old. The ‚ultra gauche‘ was deemed to be ‚anarchist‘, ‚autonomous‘ and, of course ‚violent‘. The ‚9 of Tarnac‘ were arrested and lengthily detained after a number of sabotages of hi-speed (‚TGV‘) train lines last autumn, which have not at all been elucidated yet, let alone materially linked to ‚the 9‘.
[*N2] Add Reunion to the list. The French ‚overseas departments‘ in the Carraibic and the Indian Ocean are boiling at the moment, as the chickens come home to roost after years of a colonialism without name, an artificial ‚motherland‘-oriented economy, ill-mitigated by a pretense of welfare and a reality of increasingly unmanageable clientelist hand-outs culture.
[*N3] Authors refer to the collaborationist (with the Nazis) government of Vichy France (1940-45) where the ‚citoyens‘ engaged in settling their private scores with their neighbours by denouncing them to the regime’s police or the Gestapo with gay abandon. Official France long time choose to and still would rather like forget this unsavoury page of history.