It is vain to try and caricature the opposition to Cigeo

The following is a copy of an open letter published by local associations, locals and opponents to the Bure nuclear dump project. 

Since June 21st (and the attack against the hotel/restaurant), the prefecture and various officials supporting CIGEO have tried to raise fear and set the local population against people protesting the nuclear waste disposal project.

In their reports, they allude to a pack of “casseurs” (hooligans) come to devastate the Meuse region, of a “climate of terror”. It is quite typical every time that a struggle starts getting bigger and that the opposition escapes the preestablished official frame of protest – mainly thanks to sabotage or the illegal squatting of a specific space- that politicians begin to try and discredit it and divide opponents.

In the Zad of Notre-Dame-des-Landes, the Pays de la Loire regional president, Bruno Retailleau, went as far as comparing the ZAD to « Mossoul or Damas ». In Bure, Gérard Longuet (regional senator), took another step and compared the activists to terrorists by claiming that they were “individuals drawing from images of today’s world violence their gestures of terror”. How far can diffamation and shameful propaganda go?

Officials would rather face a harmless and smiling opposition indeed, one not making any waves, playing along with the “dialogue” game. But our struggle is many faceted, and we refuse to fit the bill and be submitted or fatalistic. After 20 years of petitions, demos, handing leaflets, and legal pleas against the CIGEO project in Bure nothing has been gained except for disdain and scorn.

The fact that places stamped with ANDRA’s aura are targetted by activists or that preparatory works have been stopped for a year now in the Lejus forest is the logical consequence of the deafness of officials as well as their incapacity to question itself for the last 10 years. The government is leaving this situation to rot and provokes the anger that sometimes spontaneously catches fire. There is a real urgency to finally take into account the reality of a struggle that won’t stop showing itself and legitimately raise an alarm about the project’s inherent risks.

There is a gesture to build, another to destroy.

Here in the neighboring villages, nobody can be fooled. Many of us have a different, more accurate vision of what is actually happening on our territory. Politicans reports, such as Mr Longuet’s in his recent grievance letter to the First Minister, look a lot like a desperate last resort to save a project brutally imposed to their region against the wishes of its inhabitants.

For many years now new opponents to the project have joined us and started settling in the South Meuse region, links have been forming, exchanges, solidarity. These opponents are buying houses, renting apartments. There are many projects forming, from gardening to the opening of a bakery, crafts, theater… By occupying the Lejus forest and leading legal recourses, these opponents have also saved one of our last common ressources while it was at risk of being destroyed, fenced and militarized.

This settling dynamic is a humble one, away from the eyes of the media. It is a daily effort, the exact opposite of ANDRA’s strategy of grandly promising thousands of jobs, roads, infrastructures but bringing nothing but a desert instead.

In February the Montiers-sur-Saulx mayor took a stand for the first time against ANDRA, denouncing his village’s slow decline under their rule. The only service that Mr. Longuet ended up offering to (re)open there indeed is a police station. Police and private security guards proudly patrolling renovated but empty streets: such is the only regional development prospect offered by the promoters of the CIGEO project.

Today, the assessment is simple: it is indeed the new opponents who are repopulating our territory, bringing their youth, their joys, their dreams. They have fallen in love with Meuse, when instead the politicians forcing their nuclear dump on us are merely using the territory as an electoral springboard.

We, local inhabitants, local ngos, protesters against CIGEO, want to take a stand and claim loudly that in Bure we do not accept to be divided. There is no good or bad activist, only a growing movement, rich with its diversity, and its will to implement itself and draw another future for our land. There might be a gesture to destroy and another to build, but it is the same hands doing both. Love and rage are but two expressions on the same face.