FRANCE | Water-Sharing: “Repression and Detention are Unacceptable”, says Confédération Paysanne

Bagnolet, June 28, 2023 | Press Release

The Confédération paysanne, along with numerous other trade unions, associations, social, and environmental organizations, had called for a demonstration in Sainte-Soline to preserve and ensure equitable water sharing. Today, two peasant-farmers have been placed in custody for their role in organizing these collective gatherings, based on their status as spokespersons for the union (Nicolas Girod, former national spokesperson, and Benoît Jaunet, spokesperson for the Confédération paysanne in Deux-Sèvres). The Confédération paysanne denounces these scandalous acts of intimidation and repression.

Those who should be held accountable are the responsible individuals who ordered the indiscriminate firing of over 5,000 grenades within a two-hour period, causing numerous severe injuries to protesters. The United Nations experts and observers from the Human Rights League have condemned these actions.

Those who should be held accountable are the individuals who allow the confiscation of water for the benefit of a few, disregarding the climate situation, drought, and the rights and general interest in water management throughout France.

The protests against the Sainte-Soline project have been massive, bringing together thousands of people. As a peasant-farmers’ union, we oppose mega-reservoirs that divert water for the benefit of a few, perpetuating an unfair distribution of water within the agricultural sector. We openly embrace this fight for water sharing – setting limits and establishing priorities for better distribution. Our trade union freedom and right to protest are constantly violated by public authorities who refuse to engage in calm and constructive dialogue for a democratic redefinition of water management.

The management of common resources such as water and land is a colossal challenge for the future and for agriculture. The agro-industrial model traps farmers and territories through a devastating system, and these mega-reservoir projects that confiscate water contribute to its perpetuation. It is our duty as unionists to defend farmers and offer them an alternative through a change in the agricultural model that the climate crisis demands.

Muzzling social and environmental movements, dissolving Soulèvements de la Terre (Uprisings of the Earth), intimidating union and association leaders – the government’s unjust strategy will not deter us from continuing the fight, in the interest of peasant farmers and society as a whole, for an agricultural and food model that preserves and shares water.

We demand the release of all our comrades. We demand respect for our fundamental rights, freedom of expression, and the right to protest. We demand the preservation and sharing of water!

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