The following statement is from various trade unions, left political parties and civil liberties groups in France.
Joint Communiqué, Paris, November 8th, 2005. Confronted by a revolt born from the accumulation of inequalities and discrimination in the “banlieues” (suburbs of Paris) and the poor areas, the French government has just passed a new and extremely serious threshold in the escalation of security measures. Even in May 1968, when the situation was a lot more dramatic, the public authorities did not use the extreme measure of declaring a state of emergency. The proclamation of the state of emergency is the answer to a revolt whose causes are profound and well known even at the level of state repression.
Beyond the disastrous symbolic message that is nourished by the reference to the war in Algeria, this is not only a matter of declaring a ‘state of emergency’, which is close to the adoption of a war logic. In fact, the government has consciously obscured the range of its powers. The French law of April 3, 1955 authorises interdictions for “all persons, trying to hinder, in any conceivable way, the action of the public authorities”, and the confinement to their homes of “all persons (…) whose activity turns out to be dangerous to security and public order”, the closing of “places of reunion of all kind” and the prohibition of “gatherings apt to provoke or to foster disorder.” The government even envisages police searches of homes at night. It can, moreover, “take any kind of measures for assuring the control of the press and of publications of any kind”, and transfer competence from ordinary judges to military courts.
Stopping the violence and re-establishing solidarities in the “banlieues” is a necessity. But does this imply that they should be submitted to an exceptional legislation inherited from the colonial period? We know too well where the well-known cycle leads that ties provocation to repression, what results it has, and which ones it makes impossible to achieve. The suburbs do not need a state of exception: they desperately need justice, respect, and equality.
Citizens’ Alternative, ATMF, CEDETIM, Committee of the homeless, CRLDHT, Fédération syndicale unitaire (FSU), Ligue communiste révolutionnaire (LCR), Ligue des droits de l’Homme, MRAP, Parti communiste français (PCF), Trade union of lawyers in France, Trade union of judges, Trade union Solidaires, the Greens.
Translation: Carla Krüger, November 8, 2005 (amended for clarity)
See also, Paris is burning The riots in Paris and across France have been ignited by decades of inequality, police racism and impunity, argues Naima Bouteldja