French police clear eco-camp amid clashes

2,500 riot police and gendarmes fired tear gas after clashes erupted with hundreds of activists

French police clear eco-camp amid clashes

World Bulletin / News Desk

A police operation began on Monday to evict an environmentalist camp installed since 2008 at an abandoned airport project in western France.

Nearly 2,500 riot police and gendarmes fired tear gas after clashes erupted with hundreds of activists at the camp in Notre-Dame-des-Landes, near the western city of Nantes.

Television footage showed some activists setting fire to barricades, and throwing gasoline bombs, stones and flares at police.

At least one gendarme was hurt in the eye with a flare during the eviction, which began at 6.00 a.m. (0400GMT), according to the Interior Ministry.

The activists have refused to leave the site which authorities say they occupy illegally, despite winning a decades-long struggle to prevent plans to build a controversial airport near the city of Nantes, which the government finally scrapped in January.

Opponents of the airport project argued that it was too costly and environmentally damaging. 

The activists are known as "Zadistes" are composed of eco-activists, anti-capitalists and farmers. They took over the 1,600-hectare (4,000-acre) site in 2008 and have since built a community that they claim is a model for sustainable farming and political debate.

According to an Interior Ministry statement, Monday's operation aims to remove "the most radical" squatters.

It clarified that some among the protesters had accepted an invitation to talks with the region’s prefect, and now have had "their situations regularized ... and have the government's support."

The first attempt to evacuate them in 2012 failed.

 

Güncelleme Tarihi: 09 Nisan 2018, 17:09
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