French police raided House of Resistance in Bure, arrested two

Early on the morning of September 20, at least 150 French police were involved in raids on the House of Resistance in the small village of Bure and other activists’ residences. Dozens of police broke through the door at the house of Resistance to enter, and also forced their way into camp trailers and vehicles parked on the property to gain entrance. Residents were held for up to ten hours in the rooms or camp trailer where they were found, many asleep at the time.

At the same hour, fifteen police raided and searched an old railway station in Lumeville occupied by dump opponents, while three homes of activists in nearby Commercy and Mandres were also searched. Police acted on a warrant related to vandalism last June at an affiliated hotel/restaurant at the research center outside Bure. The identities of all who police encountered were recorded, while the entire contents of the office in Bure were seized as evidence, including a copy machine, computers, hard drives, phones, papers, books and other property. Similar property seizures took place during the other four raids.  Two people in Bure were taken into custody and to separate local police stations, then released later in the day.

It was just the latest incident in a local climate of repression against the growing opposition to permanent burial of France’s high-level radioactive waste in a deep underground facility nearby.

The raids were the high point of an increasing level of surveillance and harassment endured by active dump opponents, including helicopters and frequent road blocks and ID checks that have an impact on all the residents of the mostly rural Meuse district. A few days earlier, one young activist had been arrested and handcuffed by police in civilian clothes.

For many years, the House of Resistance has served as the hub of local opposition to a national nuclear waste research center established 20 years ago outside the village in northeast France, a center now tapped as the permanent disposal site. The last 18 months have seen regular peaceful marches and demonstrations against the planned dump. A few more dynamic clashes between masked resisters and police have involved police use of tear gas, pepper spray and flash grenades resulting in serious injuries to protesters. After the nuclear waste agency began clearing trees ahead of obtaining necessary permits and was forced out of the woods in the summer of 2016, the critical forest site has been occupied for over a year by resisters. The “owls,” as they call themselves, have built tree houses and shacks in the woods to establish residency.

More background and action reports covering the last 18 months of protest and resistance to the French nuclear dump at Bure can be found in recent issues of the Nuclear Resister newsletter.

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