Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Communique from the Mouvement de l'Immigration et des Banlieues*

“Die in peace my brothers, but die quietly, so that we hear nothing but the faintest echo of your suffering…”

Anyone who does not understand why people are rioting either suffers from amnesia, blindness, or both. For the past thirty years the suburbs have been calling out for justice. For twenty five years the rebellions, the riots, the demonstrations, the marches, the public meetings, and cries of anger have been making very clear demands. It is fifteen years since the Ministry of Urban Affairs was set up to deal with the poverty and exclusion of the so-called underprivileged areas. Ministers come and go with their promises: a Marshall Plan, Economic Free Zones, DSQ, ZEP, ZUP, Youth Employment, Social Cohesion, etc. … The suburbs serve as a dumping zone for the ministers, politicians and journalists with their deadly little sound bites about “lawless areas”, “irresponsible parents”, organized crime and other “consequences of Islamic fundamentalism.”


The men and women and especially the young people who live in these areas are stigmatized and blamed for all the problems of our society. It doesn’t cost a lot to give civics lessons, point your finger at the “trash” and “savages” and throw them to the lions. And it can pay big dividends. The suburbs become a problem unto themselves, which have to be managed by the police and the courts. Today we are told about these “young people from the suburbs” (by which we are to understand “these Blacks and Arabs”) who burn things down as if they were foreigners who came to pillage France.

And yet from Minguettes (1981) to Vaulx-en-Velin (1990), from Mantes-la-Jolie (1991) to Sartrouville (1991), from Dammarie-les-Lys (1997) to Toulouse (1998), from Lille (2000) to Clichy, the message is plain and clear:

Enough with unpunished police crimes, enough with police profiling, enough with crappy schools, enough with planned unemployment, enough with rundown housing, enough with prisons, enough with humiliation! And enough with the two-tier justice system which protects corrupt politicians and consistently convicts the weak.

All of these cries have been ignored or covered up.

Just as they cover up the silent suffering of millions of families, men and women, who are subjected every day to social violence far worst than a burning car. With the curfew, the government is responding to this by collective punishment and special legislation that gives full power to the police. They put the lid on it; in our neighbourhoods we will remember this for a long time. There will no peace in our neighbourhoods until there is justice and real equality.

There are no pacification measures and no curfew that will stop us from continuing to fight for this, even when the cameras have gone away…

No justice, No peace!

The Mouvement de l'Immigration et des Banlieues, November 9th 2005
MIB - 45 Rue d'Aubervilliers 7518 Paris -
EMail : - Tel : 01 40 36 24 66

* The Immigration and Suburbs Movement

Please note that the above text about the past 12 days riots in France comes from the Mouvement de l'Immigration et des Banlieues in France and was translated by yours truly. I have a “fast and loose” translation philosophy, meaning that when there is a choice between readability and the original phraseology i tend to favour the former, provided that the meaning stays the same. The original document can be seen in French. Please also note that i am translating this as i have not been able to find any radical accounts of the riots or the police racism that provoked them in English… i do not necessarily agree with the author’s point of view, nor do they necessarily agree with mine. Si quelqu’un a un meilleur texte à suggérer, svp envoyez-moi le!

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