Log-book: November 2005
Getting out of nuclear power Expulsion of a family At the Botanical Garden Basques in Court
Living in substandard conditions
Three busses left Paris, on a Saturday morning, to go towards a small town east of France: Bar-le-Duc. I was aboard one of them, sitting next to young people from the Revolutionary Communist League. A truly delightful trip.
The national demonstration against the burying of nuclear waste assembled some 5000 people of which many were young, coming from all parts of France. The atmosphere was festive, hearty and pleasant. The march goes through the old city to the sound of music with symbolic gestures hitting the imagination of the inhabitants. A real success. All along the march I kept meeting people coming to greet me.
The police operation was impressive.
The local population, which had been warned against this demonstration, did not hesitate to come out in the streets, to kindly look at the antinuclear militants and to ask them questions.
The nuclear power stations continue to produce radioactive waste that we do not know what to do with. Burying them just as we would push dust under a carpet is unacceptable. This waste will be dangerous for thousands of years to come. It is exposing the subsoil to an uncontrollable contamination. This is a senseless gamble of which the victims will be the future generations.
It is less a question of finding a site to bury the waste than to find a solution for the future. The radical solution would be to close all nuclear power stations and to resort to other forms of energy. Other countries have made this choice.
Is the combat against the burying of radioactive waste not the same as the one we are making to demand other choices for society like the organization of transport?
Expulsion of a family
In the suburb of Paris, a family from the Ivory Coast with no official papers insisted I go to visit them. That I did. The father works and earns a mere 300 Euros per month. The mother, who I found on the verge of exhaustion, is expecting a child for Christmas.
The oldest daughter who is 18 years old and who has just received her official papers is attending the College. The second daughter is 7 years old. And twin boys, 3 years old.
The night before, the police had turned up at their flat on the 4th level of the building for a rapid expulsion. The woman was alone with her young children and had received no notice. She had to leave immediately. Fortunately, one of her neighbours on the same level, an unemployed person, opened his door for this emergency.
The family was re-housed at the other end of the Paris area in an apartment where cooking is not allowed.
The father kept his dignity throughout this hardship. He observes the Ramadan. Having me close to him and his wife gives him strength. He has so many obstacles to overcome! First having to go to the hospital for his wife who is not well.
But he knows he is not alone. A movement of solidarity is getting into place. Already people are getting mobilized around him. A demonstration is going to take place in front of the Prefecture.
At the Botanical Garden
The weather is simply fantastic on this Sunday of Autumn. It is a beautiful day to take a stroll in my preferred garden. The trees that still have their leaves and flowers, in a large variety, have my admiration. The sun has brought out many people. I decided to sit on a bench and watched as young children liberate themselves mischievously from their parents.
Suddenly, someone came to me and interrupted my meditation. He was 25 or maybe 30 years old and he seemed preoccupied. I stood up and held my hand out to him.
From the outset he told me: " I am a traditionalist Catholic ". It is not customary for me to have this type of meeting especially surrounded by flowers.
This man whom I do not know made his demand: "A traditionalist priest friend of mine would like to have a debate with you. Would you accept?"
" First, I would like to meet him and get to know him, the person goes first before the debate".
The man seemed satisfied and believed it is best to start by getting acquainted. I asked him if he wanted my address. He reassured me saying he knew where I lived.
Before leaving me, he knelt and kissed the ring on my finger. This was done so swiftly, I was the first to be surprised. The people sitting on the bench and those walking on the road stared at me with a strange look.
Basques in Court
The newspapers reported about the young Spanish Basques who climbed a prison wall in Paris and used banners and slogans to ask to move the Basques political prisoners closer to their home. These prisoners are scattered all through France and Spain and demand to be transferred to prisons closer to the Basque country. This is an old and just demand.
This situation is contrary to various European and International resolutions. But nothing has changed for the last twenty years. The families of the prisoners still have to make a round trip of 1600 km to have a half an hour talk with the prisoners!
That a dozen of young Basques had the courage to come to Paris to make their demands has my admiration. They have dared to climb the prison wall where the political Basque prisoners are held. There has been a police operation. They have exposed themselves to a prison sentence and a fine.
The trial was held in Versailles. Around fifty young Basques were present to support them. They had to travel all night to be there. As always, combat goes hand in hand with a celebration. Two of them were playing the accordion.
I was there for the press conference in front of the Courthouse. Then we went in to attend the trial.
I am hopeful that these young people will not be convicted.