Thousands Mobilize Against Motorway and Basin Projects in France, Authorities Face Challenges

Thousands gathered in France to protest against the A69 Castres-Toulouse motorway and agricultural irrigation reserves in Deux-Sèvres. Despite the ban and heavy police presence, activists persist in voicing their environmental concerns.

Anti-Motorway and Anti-Basin Protests See Thousands Gather in France

Thousands of activists gathered over the weekend to protest against the future A69 Castres-Toulouse motorway and agricultural irrigation reserves in different parts of France. Despite adverse weather conditions and a strong presence from law enforcement, the participants demonstrated their opposition through various actions and statements.

In Puylaurens, Tarn, between 400 and 1,500 protesters opposed to the future motorway gathered at a camp set up on private land near the construction site. While the authorities reported around 400 people on-site, organizers claimed the crowd size was still between 1,000 and 1,500. The event, initially scheduled to start on Friday night, witnessed a significant turnout of between 6,000 and 7,000 people, according to the organizers. Despite this, the authorities put the number at 1,600.

The Tarn prefecture reported four injuries among police personnel and three among demonstrators. The clashes included damage to gendarmerie and fire brigade vehicles, with one police vehicle being hit by a molotov cocktail. A police helicopter continued to monitor the area throughout the protest.

Similarly, anti-basin activists expect at least 10,000 participants in a rally scheduled for mid-July in Deux-Sèvres, just before the Paris Olympics. The 'Bassines Non Merci' (BNM) collective is organizing this 'Water Village' event to oppose agricultural irrigation reserves. They claim their authorization file is 'extremely solid' and stress the need for a peaceful demonstration. The gathering aims to highlight the ongoing struggle against what they describe as the 'grabbing' of water by the agro-industry.

BNM spokesperson Julien Le Guet emphasized the importance of avoiding violence and criticized Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin for hindering the freedom to demonstrate. The collective plans to hold several days of demonstrations across Poitou, although specific locations remain undisclosed.

The debates around both the motorway and the irrigation reserves underline broader environmental and political tensions in France. These protests illustrate the significant public opposition to infrastructural and environmental policies, emphasizing the need for dialogue and reconsideration.

  • The 'Free Wheel' event, although banned, managed to bring together thousands of people and saw an array of activities including chants and slogans against the motorway construction. The large police presence aimed to prevent any damage to the construction site or commercial entities.
  • The BNM collective's mid-July rally aims to gather international attention due to its timing just before the 2024 Paris Olympics. This event seeks to leverage the global spotlight on France to draw attention to their cause, emphasizing non-violence and peaceful protest.
Daily Reports
Refs: | Le Parisien | Le Figaro |



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