Eviction Underway at La ZAD du Testet

Last week, occupiers buried themselves in the ground to defend La ZAD du Testet. Photo from @seamymsg

September 16th, 2014

Occupied since October 2013, the ZAD du Testet is one of the many “zones a defendre” which were created after the mediatization of the ZAD at Notre-Dame-des Landes in October 2012. The collective in Testet, a valley in the Tarn region of southeast France, is a mix of “zadistes, farmers, clowns and people in revolt”, resisting a dam project which would destroy a wooded, wetland area with over 100 threatened species, to supply 24 agro-industrial farms with water.

The squatted forest was violently evicted in February 2014, the 10-20 opponents chose to use nonviolent tactics, and then reoccupied. They were evicted again in May of 2014.

August 15, a larger re-occupation was organized, under heavy police and military attention, with arbitrary arrests and road blockades preventing building material from arriving on site. August 25th, biologists came to give their expertise and fill out paperwork to approve the project, and evictions began. People resisted with burning barricades and molotovs, and there has been almost daily confrontation ever since. The region went under martial law on August 31st, with the police chief declaring- “the law must remain strong”, and workers began cutting the forest on September 1. A press release from the collective against the dam- “Tant qu’il y aura des Bouilles” said- “…these new events show the disdain that the Tarn Regional Council shows for dialogue and for the opponents of this project. We condemn this show of force. This kind of behavior breeds rage, even in the most pacifist of opponents, and so one can understand that actions will become more and more radical.”

People have resisted in a variety of ways- a hunger strike by locals in their 50s and 60s, numerous blockades using tractors, fire, buried people, tripods, bulls, human chains etc, a 24/7 occupation of the square in front of the city council, climbing on machines and in trees, and fighting on the ground. There are about 800 people against the project currently in and around the forest, and they frequently encounter tear gas, concussion grenades and rubber bullets. Today (September 15th) action centered around the Gaza(d) treehouse, which still hasn’t been evicted, although 5 people were hospitalized (no thanks to the police, who blocked the ambulances). There are still quite a lot of people in the trees, and the actions are slowing or blocking work every day.

There have also been numerous solidarity actions, from a high school walkout in Gaillac to occupying the offices of the dam construction company in Nantes. The bourgeois media, perhaps afraid of another snowball effect like in October 2012, has kept almost total silence about Testet, despite countless reports of police brutality. In addition to the theft or destruction by the police of medical supplies, food, vehicles, tents, sleeping bags, anything they can get their hands on, the farmers who stand to benefit from the dam and local suspected facists have formed a gang with iron bars, rocks, dogs, molotovs and hunting rifles- with as of yesterday about 80 people, and they are patrolling the roads.

A last word from those on the ground: “Thank you to all who are mobilizing in solidarity with the struggle in Testet, everywhere it’s the same thing, everywhere the same system of rotten politicians who decide amoungst themselves what they’re going to do and call it “democracy”, and who have only one goal: develop their businesses to strengthen the chokehold of this system of machines and technology on the natural environment and people. Those who think they are protected are already dead. We refuse to be isolated and so we struggle, we humbly resist.”

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