Sunday, August 10, 2014
Pro-Palestinian Organizations look to form a united front in Paris
LE MONDE | 28.07.2014 à 13h51 • Mis à jour le 28.07.2014 à 17h57 | Par Faïza Zerouala
They believe they have proven their ability to contain a protest. The organizers of the gathering in support of Gaza on Saturday, July 26 in Paris, saw the protest at the place de la République as a “success that contradicted the government.”
The banning of the demonstration by the prefect of police, and subsequently upheld by the Administrative Tribunal of the Council of State, had been motivated by the risk of “troubling public order.” The government emphasized the failure of the organizers, a collective comprised mostly of associations of young Palestinians, the NPA and the Parti des indigènes de la République, in the areas of containing a demonstration and in security.
According to police estimates, between 4 and 10,000 people gathered on Saturday afternoon at the place de la République in support of the people of Gaza. It was a peaceful and calm gathering until some incidents broke out around 5PM, despite the efforts of a security force dressed in yellow vests to maintain calm.
“SECURITY DID A GOOD JOB CONTAINING THE PROTESTORS”
Several dozen protestors confronted the forces of order, throwing stones, bottles and broken glass torn from a destroyed Abribus at them. 65 people were arrested. 41 were still in custody on Sunday, including 1 minor. There were suspected of “aggravated willful violence” (armed or in a group) against the forces of order, and of “rebellion.” Youssef Boussoumah relativized these excesses: “During the protests against the CPE (2006) or the “bonnet rouge” demonstrations (2013) there were incidents, but no-one accused the organizers of being incapable of managing the protests. Given the level of tension, the organizers did a good job containing the protestors. And if the gathering had been authorized, we would have had even more ability to secure things.”
The collective had mobilized around 80 people to maintain order. Their responsibilities included physically controlling people who had come to fight with the CRS. They also moved through the gathering attempting to dissuade people from breaking or vandalizing things, explaining that by doing it the “hurt the Palestinian cause.”
Mr. Boussoumah praised the efficacy of this security force while, at the same time, regretting that there were not more of them. Because of the ban, come organizations belonging to the National Collective for a Just and Durable Peace between Palestine and Israeli, like the Association France Palestine solidarité (AFPS) withdrew their support for the gathering. The spokesman for the organizing collective explained that the same thing happened with Muslim associations which had said they were prepared to shoulder the security effort.
“NEW FORCES” Monday morning, the organizations had not yet officially called for new protests. They explains that they were thinking about the strategy to adopt that create the best conditions for maintaining mobilization. A co-ordination meeting was expected Monday night in Paris, open to all organizations that wanted to support the population of Gaza. Mr. Boussoumah explains that the national collective was there, in addition to the informal collective.
These “new forces” could be made up of the Parti de gauche, the Southern union or of the Ensemble movement. The PCF cast doubt on its support: Mr. Boussoumah avowed: “We have also made contact with a number of neighborhood associations in the Ile-de-France which are ready to help us.” The stated goal is to show the government that the collective has the capability of mobilizing a diversity of organizations and to beef up security in order to convince the Prefect of Police to authorize the next demonstrations.
The AFPS confirms that this meeting was held and was “open to all the collectives with which we can work.” The president of the AFPS and one of the main organizers of the authorized protests on July 16 and 23, Taufiq Tahani explains that the meeting was necessary. He speculated that, by banning some of the protests that the government had wanted to “sow division between the organisers by suffocating the mobilization. But this no distinction between good and bad organizers. The movement in solidarity with the Palestine is diversified.”
For the president of the AFPS, it is clear that the ban was a diversion on the part of the government, which “has no political response to bring to the subject. It is complicit in the butchery that is happening in Gaza.” The two organizations issued a joint statement saying that the demands of the protest will be filed [with the police] as soon as possible regardless of the outcome of the consultation meeting.