By Vicki Morris
On Sunday 21 June, in the early morning, Jose Bové was dragged from his bed by armed police and taken away to prison by helicopter.
The spokesperson of the French radical farmers’ union, the Farmers’ Confederation, is starting a 10-month jail sentence for destroying GM crops in 1998 and 1999. He had been hoping for a pardon for these offences—half a million people wrote to the French president requesting it—but Jacques Chirac—nicknamed “super-menteur” [“super-liar”], with all manner of corrupt deals in his past, but immune from prosecution while he is president—has not seen fit to pardon Bové.
Instead, the French government is making an example of Bové. It wants to be tough with leaders of the ‘social movement’, to intimidate them, while it is attacking pensions. The government has also decided to dock the pay of those who have taken strike action recently against the pension cuts (yes, it is unusual for strikers to lose pay in France!).
The French socialist newsletter Liaisons said: “It was with tanks that this morning, at 5.30am, ‘they’ came to imprison Jose Bové, sealing off an entire village, breaking down his door. The last time that boot boys descended on the villages of this region, it was the Waffen SS… Be in no doubt: this is deliberate. They have chosen to proceed in this manner, at this time, after the great strike wave. Tanks in Larzac, mugging the strikers for their pay: one and the same policy.”
The French organisation Attac is co-ordinating protests against Bové’s incarceration.