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Demonstration against Lyon-Turin: return to calm after a day under tension

“96 foreign nationals, known to the services, were turned back at the border. More than 400 dangerous objects were seized during preflight checks. Support for the twelve injured gendarmes, ”wrote Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin this Saturday evening in a tweet, to sum up the tense day that took place in the Maurienne valley.

The organizers of the demonstration, themselves, evoke “several wounded” in their ranks during the rally at the call of a dozen movements, including the Uprisings of the Earth, threatened with dissolution by the Ministry of the Interior, and the Italian No-Tavs, mobilized against a “pharaonic” and “harmful” construction site for the environment, biodiversity and the water resources of the valley.

“The safety of people and property, which was our main objective, has been generally ensured,” said the prefect of Savoie François Ravier during a press briefing at the end of the day.

Present in the procession, a group of elected EELV and LFI tried to negotiate with the authorities to “go a little further” in their journey, while the demonstrators waited under a scorching sun on a small road near Saint- Rémy-de-Maurienne, about thirty kilometers from the Italian border.

It was then that “a group of radicals”, made up of around 300 people, provoked clashes with the police after “forming themselves into a black bloc” and then “tried to block the A43 motorway which was temporarily closed because of their intrusion, detailed the prefect.

After this last incident, the procession gradually returned calmly to its base camp. In the afternoon, protesters also briefly invaded the railway and train traffic was stopped in the early afternoon due to the situation, according to the SNCF.

The departure of this undeclared demonstration bringing together more than 4,000 people, according to the latest report from the organizers, more than 3,000 according to the authorities, took place from land loaned by the municipality of La Chapelle, outside the area of prefectural ban.

Some 2,000 police and gendarmes have been deployed in the valley. Five buses of Italian activists – around 280 passengers – were stuck at the border for several hours before turning back to their towns of origin, people subject to administrative bans having been “spotted” on board, specified the prefect of Savoy.

“Historic Moment”

“It is all the same quite scandalous, funny that the State and the government decide to attack a movement, environmental activists, peasants, trade unions when today we should really attack to all industries, to all those who destroy the living”, underlined Pina, the spokeswoman of the Uprisings of the earth, during the speeches, before the parade.

“Macron, Darmanin and the prefect provoke the confrontation”, tweeted the parliamentary leader LFI Mathilde Panot, present on the spot with several elected Greens and LFI.

“Today is a historic moment in this valley (…) there are a lot of people from all over France, Italy and even Switzerland”, rejoiced Philippe Delhomme, former local elected official who has been active for years in the association “Vivre et act en Maurienne (VAM)”.

Supported by the European Union, the new line should eventually link Lyon and Turin, with 70% of the tracks in France and 30% in Italy, and a 57.5 km tunnel crossing the Alps between Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne and Susa. Estimated cost: more than 26 billion euros.

Proponents of the project highlight the need to reduce the flow of heavy goods vehicles, which is constantly increasing, to limit greenhouse gas emissions. They also point to the economic development that they believe a faster rail line will allow.

Opponents argue that a line already exists and that rail freight has been falling steadily in recent years. They also denounce the ecological impacts of this “titanic railway project, involving the drilling of 260 km of galleries through the Alpine massifs”. According to them, the work has already dried up several springs and catchments in the valley.

letelegramme Fr Trans

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