02:45:35 amCategories: Politics

Une manif... encore

Today I stumbled upon a demonstration again. I’d been walking around Bas Belleville looking for the spot where the last barricade of the Commune de Paris had been finally defeated.

The defeat of the commune is commemorated every year right around the corner from where I live, by the wall of Père Lachaise. I’ve seen an old poster for this year’s commemoration: Every participant should bring a red flower to leave on the graves of the communards. And then they sing a song called le temps de cerises, apparently an ode to a love affair which is like cherry blossoms. Cherry blossoms are of course incredible beautiful, but oh, so ephemeral…

I didn’t find the exact place of the last barricade. But around where it should have been there is now a kind of neighbourhood association- La Bellevilleuse -, open a couple of hours every first Saturday of the month, and devoted to fighting the demolition of the last old quarters of Belleville. (I should check it out between 14h and 17h the first Saturday in November). The Tunisian Jews are far more present and active in that neighbourhood than is this association. I’ll probably write about that later as well. All of a sudden, it’s all caucher and patisserie tunisienne. And just around the corner it was durian, plastic trash and East Asian fashion. (I’ll probably end up writing a thesis just on how it is to cross such a corner: what is this change? Why and how does it all of a sudden become totally different?)

Anyway, the theme was demonstrations: So, after admiring the mural paintings up in rue Belleville, scenting the durians down in rue Belleville and so on, I suddenly bumped into this demonstration down in Boulevard de Belleville. I think it was about the same place Les indigenes de la République had their stand a fortnight ago. This Saturday, it was a Collectif des Sans-Papiers. And it was a tiny, little demonstration for the sans papiers, and against the increasing police raids they have been facing the last months. Sans papiers (=without [identity] papers) is the French name for undocumented immigrants. Rights, or rather lack of rights, for the sans papiers have been an issue in French politics for a long time. After the deadly fire in a hostel earlier this year, the issue of the sans papiers have been liked to the issue of the right to housing, droit au logements. (And not to forget what’s happening in Mellila and Ceuta…). Three weeks ago, I stumbled upon a much larger demonstration, up in the XIX arrondissement, exactly for this droit au logements. Since I run into these happenings by chance all the time, I suppose there must be many of them.

Since I had nothing better to do, I joined the little manif(estation). When we came down to Hotel de Ville, the police, with their blue busses, batons, gas masks and even guns, started to congregate. Well, the police normally carry guns here, but such riot gear never stops to surprise me. Police partout, justice nulle part, as people chanted, in good anarchist spirit. I had just seen a terrible film a few days ago - Nuit Noire, 17th October 1961 - when then Parisian police massacred a pacifist demonstration for a free Algeria. Between 50 and 200 people were killed and their corpses thrown into the Seine. It’s just 44 years ago. Honte, honte à ce pouvoir, qui fait la guerre à sans papiers… (Shame on the power that wages war against the immigrants). I would like to make some poetic link here, from the sans papiers to the Commune, today’s and yesterdays struggles and so one, but I guess it goes without saying…

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