A vast expulsion operation, with several hundred mobile gendarmes deployed, began Monday at dawn in Notre-Dame-des-Landes (Loire-Atlantique) to dislodge the illegal occupants of the ZAD, nearly three months after the abandonment of the airport project, resulting in some clashes.
"From 6am this morning, under the authority of the prefect of Loire-Atlantique, the national gendarmerie will begin an operation of expulsion of illegal occupants of land in the area of Notre-Dame-des-Landes", the Ministry of Interior announced in a statement.
"The operation (…) comes to execute court decisions to proceed with the expulsion of the most radical occupants," says the ministry. It aims to dislodge "a hundred" of people, and will be maintained "as long as it is necessary", said on Europe 1 the Minister of the Interior Gérard Collomb.
The main accesses to the road 281, the Ex-road chicanes and symbol of the "return to the rule of law" were blocked by the gendarmes before 04H00 in the north and from 03H30 in the south, found the AFP.
The Loire-Atlantique Prefect, Nicole Klein, was there
Clashes erupted between "zadistes" and mobile gendarmes, who fired tear gas and stun grenades in response to projectile jets.
] Several car wrecks were completely overturned on the sides, on and by the side of the road, AFP found. Still smoking tires and barricades strewed the edges of the area.
The journalists were kept out of the way once the operation began.
A very important device of mobile gendarmes was mobilized, with queues of trucks parked on one side of the road, fires lit under the fog.
"It starts," an occupier told AFP. "They make summons, they saw the barricades."
A first arrest took place after projectiles fired, according to sources close to the file. A gendarme was wounded following a rocket fire and suffers from a retinal detachment, according to the Ministry of the Interior.
– Calls for resistance –
"These evictions are illegal", said a occupant of the ZAD calling himself "Camille" to AFP. "It is unacceptable that the state is driving people out of their homes, we are calling on all people to resist supporting us and joining local gatherings, we were in a peaceful negotiation with the prefecture in search of collective solutions."
This large-scale operation, planned over several days, is expected to mobilize a total of twenty-five squadrons of mobile gendarmerie, or about 2,500 soldiers. It plans to expel anyone who has not regularized its situation, for example by declaring new individual agricultural projects, and to dismantle some of the 97 squats identified by the authorities.
Almost all 250 zadists estimated on the spot did not do so, preferring collective management of the territory and the possibility of carrying out non-agricultural projects.
On January 17, by putting an end to this fifty-year-old project, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe had promised to end to the "no law zone" on the ZAD.
Faced with what they call a "government hurricane", occupiers in the ZAD warned they would lead "physical and determined resistance."
Calls for reinforcements have been launched in recent days to set up barricades, organize food and food supplies, a "hybrid force" claimed by the occupation movement.
Acipa, the main association of opponents of the former airport project, called on the state "not to initiate the process of expulsions and violence" and to privilege "dialogue", while by reaffirming its opposition to possible blockades of roads by the zadistes.
They also call for rallies at 18:00 in Nantes and Rennes and converge Sunday on the ZAD to rebuild the destroyed habitats.
The operation started on Monday is the first of magnitude since autumn 2012. This last attempt at mass evacuation of occupants, called "Operation César", had turned into a fiasco despite the mobilization of more than a thousand gendarmes and policemen.
aag-alh-asl-grd / hdu / GVY / shu