Whose security? Climate protests in France during the state of emergency

The French government has called a ‘State of Emergency’ and banned all demonstrations for 3 months following the tragic events in Paris. Nick Evans explains why, despite the bans, the  protests during the Paris climate talks (COP21) must, and will, go ahead.

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Riot police in the Calais camp earlier this month. Photo: London2Calais

The French government has announced a state of emergency, following the tragic attacks in Paris on 13 November. It has banned all public demonstrations in France for over three months. Police have been carrying out raids throughout the country and placing people under house arrest without warrants. Overwhelmingly Muslims are being targeted. Life has become even harder in the camps in Calais. The refugees have come to Europe to escape war, poverty and the direct and indirect effects of climate change. Here they have been faced by barbed wire and riot police.

On 22 November, several hundred people joined a pro-migrant demonstration in Paris, despite the emergency laws. Irène, a member of the Coalition 21 Climat, which is coordinating the protests during the COP, was defiant: “We are demonstrating today, and we will demonstrate on 12 December.”

Demonstrations on 12 December will go ahead despite the ban, and the French climate coalition are encourage all people who were planning to come to Paris for that day to come.

Jonathan Neale reports from the international mobilising group,

“Because the French government has forbidden one big demonstration or rally, we will have many, many small groups in ‘distributed demonstrations’ all over Paris. In my personal opinion, because the big march on 29 November has been banned, the many demonstrations all over Paris on 12 December will be much bigger than expected.”

Naomi Klein has condemned Hollande for banning the climate protests, silencing those facing the worst effects of climate change. People from the Pacific islands to New Orleans are coming to Paris to take part in “climate marches and protests pointing out the negotiations, with the current level of emission targets, endanger the lives and livelihoods of millions if not billions of people.” The attempt by the French state to stop them reveals that “once again, a wealthy western country is putting security for elites ahead of the interests of those fighting for survival.”

Our governments use the language of security to justify the attacks on migrants and Muslims, the aerial bombardment of communities in the Middle East, the support for dictatorships, oil corporations and arms manufacturers. The consequence is endless violence. We need to take to the streets to defy them.

On Monday 7 December, Naomi Klein and Jeremy Corbyn will be speaking in Paris during the COP, from 18:00 to 20:30, in a conversation about trade unions and climate change.

The event is sponsored by Trade Unions for Energy Democracy, the Global Climate Jobs campaigns, and the Rosa Luxumburg foundation, as well as by trade unions from around the world. The event is now booked up, but there will be a report on rs21.org.uk following the meeting.

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