Category Archives: France

Black Blocs – “The Black Peril”?


It may be very difficult to not notice them during rallies. Hooded, dressed in black, they are hundreds, sometimes more, to parade during important local or more international political events.

A black bloc is a name given to groups of protesters who wear black clothing, scarves, sunglasses, ski masks, motorcycle helmets with padding, or other face-concealing and face-protecting items. The clothing is used to conceal marchers’ identities, and hinder criminal prosecution, by making it difficult to distinguish between participants. It is also used to protect their faces and eyes from items, such as pepper-spray, which are often used by law enforcement during protests or civil unrest. The tactic allows the group to appear as one large unified mass.

Black bloc has become a generic term for ultraradical, highly mobilised leftwing groups often associated with anti-capitalism, anti-globalisation, anti-fascism and anarchism.

The black bloc is not a group or organisation, it’s something that happens on marches or actions. It’s not pre-planned: it relies on people turning up with the same ideas and clothes. That is why there is a “uniform”: people who want to take direct action and resist containment arrive on the day in black and identify people with the same ideas this way.

In the legal sense, those who damage property or fight the police have committed crimes, so yes they are criminals. But in everyday language, a criminal is someone who lives by criminal means…

The tactic was developed in the 1980s in the European autonomist movement’s protests against squatter evictions, nuclear power and restrictions on abortion, as well as other influences. Black blocs gained broader media attention outside Europe during the 1999 Seattle WTO protests, when a black bloc damaged property of Gap, Starbucks, Old Navy, and other multinational retail locations in downtown Seattle.

Continue reading Black Blocs – “The Black Peril”?

Advertisements

Daech/Syrie: “Complément d’enquête”. Lafarge : les sombres affaires d’un géant du ciment


  • English: Lafarge Investigation: The Gloomy Business of a giant of the cement

C’est la première fois qu’une entreprise du CAC 40 est poursuivie pour financement du terrorisme. Comment le leader mondial du ciment peut-il se retrouver accusé d’avoir versé des millions de dollars de bakchich à des groupes jihadistes comme Daech ? Pendant un an, les équipes de “Complément d’enquête” se sont penchées sur ce fleuron très discret de l’industrie, PME familiale devenue un géant du BTP présent dans 60 pays. Quelles sont ses méthodes, ses zones d’ombre ? Enquête depuis le berceau ardéchois jusqu’en Syrie, où est né le scandale, en passant par les Etats-Unis. 

Pour la première fois, une équipe de journalistes s’est rendue près de l’usine d’où le scandale est parti, au nord de la Syrie, et y a rencontré d’anciens salariés du site. Ingénieur, transporteur ou responsable de la sécurité à l’époque, ils nous racontent comment ils ont travaillé la peur au ventre dans une région gangrenée par l’organisation Etat islamique, et comment la direction de Lafarge a maintenu coûte que coûte la production de ciment, malgré les risques de kidnapping et les combats aux portes de l’usine.

Des documents et témoignages inédits

Des documents jamais publiés montrent comment le cimentier a scellé des accords avec plusieurs groupes jihadistes pour laisser passer matériaux, équipements et ouvriers jusqu’à l’usine. La direction parisienne était-elle au courant ? A-t-elle pactisé avec le diable ?

L’enquête de France 2 révèle que Lafarge vendait du ciment à Raqqa, la “capitale” de l’organisation Etat islamique. “Complément d’enquête” lève aussi le voile sur la partie la plus obscure du dossier : que savait exactement le Quai d’Orsay sur ce qui se tramait entre Lafarge et Daech ? Le gouvernement français a-t-il fait pression pour que l’entreprise reste en Syrie malgré le danger ? Un diplomate sort de l’ombre pour dénoncer la position ambiguë de l’Etat français.

English:

It is the first time when a company of the CAC 40 is pursued for terrorism financing. How can a world leader of the cement find itself accused of having paid  millions of dollars of bribes  to Jihadist groups as Daech? During one year, France Télévisions made this reporting regarding this very discreet jewel of the industry, the family businness which became a giant of the present construction-public works present in 60 countries. What are its methods and its shadow zones? Investigation from the Ardèche region in France until  Syria, where the scandal was made and also via the United States.

The choice to cling on in Syria after other international firms fled the fighting has dragged Lafarge, which merged with Swiss firm Holcim in 2015, into a spiral of scandal and recriminations that has embroiled the French state.

Three French judges are investigating allegations that the firm funneled some 13 million euros ($16 million) to armed fighters including Daesh (ISIS) militants to keep the factory working.

Six former or current top Lafarge executives have been charged with financing a terrorist organization.

Under interrogation in December Bruno Pescheux, the head of the former Syria affiliate, who has also been charged, admitted that they paid $20,000 a month to Daesh to facilitate the plant’s work in 2013 and 2014.

Ultimately those payments and the risk Lafarge took were in vain – the plant in Jalabiya slipped from their control and, according to local authorities, is now a base for U.S., British and French special forces who have helped push back Daesh.

  • Sources credit: FT.COM, France Télévisions