[Fwd: (en) Paris, May 1968 remembered]

Kali Tal (kali@kalital.com)
Fri, 1 May 1998 19:49:38 -0700

>esperanto wrote:
>> ________________________________________________
>> A - I N F O S N E W S S E R V I C E
>> http://www.ainfos.ca/
>> ________________________________________________
>> -----------------------
>> 30 years ago this month Europe saw, perhaps, the most serious threat
>> to government in an industrially advanced society.
>> Paris was the focal point and we have started a collection of
>> some of our documents (an example follows) relating to the events of
>> that year at:
>> <http://www.tao.ca/~freedom/1968>
>> Further details will also be given on our mailing list:
>> <majordomo@tao.ca>
>> subscribe fpi
>> -----------------------------------------------------
>> TEN-MILLION WORKERS were called out on strike in France in support of
>> the student demands. This follows ten days of militant action by the
>> students. Considering that the Communist hierarchy has previously
>> denounced the students as Anarchists, Trotskyists and Maoists, this
>> action is as much bowing to public sentiment as the sudden
>> capitulation of the French Government. The Sorbonne is to be reopened
>> and cleared of the hated combat police and the release of all students
>> was promised for today (May 13).
>> The antecedents of this struggle go back to January 26 of this year.
>> On that day 40 members of the Nanterre University anarchist group
>> marched into the faculty hall with comical posters ridiculing the
>> police. The porters attacked the anarchists but were defeated. The
>> authorities called in the police; one thousand students fought back
>> and attended a protest meeting. The movement thus launched has grown
>> ever since. The students are determined to get rid of the uniformed
>> and plainclothed police that haunt the faculties.
>> On May 3 a great meeting was called at the Sorbonne by the extreme
>> left. The rector appealed to the police to dislodge the students. As
>> the student protest grew, the Government stepped in and closed down
>> the Sorbonne and Nanterre University, which were occupied by the
>> combat police. The students organised quickly and brilliantly to
>> reoccupy the universities from the hated police. As many as 15,000
>> students and sympathisers fought in street battles until the
>> capitulation of the Government.
>> One of the demands of the students was that Danny Cohn-Bendit of the
>> Nanterre anarchist group should not be deported to Germany. There has
>> been many conflicting accounts in the British Press about our comrade.
>> Although Nesta Roberts of the Guardian has accurately described him as
>> an anarchist Joseph Carroll, in the same paper on the same day,
>> imputed he was a Trotskyist. Margot Lyons in the New Statesman said he
>> was a 'Maoist' ringleader, the Ohserver said he was the leader of the
>> 'anarcho- Maoists'. More to the point was Mandrake in the Sunday
>> Telegraph who said amongst the students were many tendencies -
>> Marxists, two kinds of Trotskyists, Maoists, Anarchists, Castroists,
>> situationists. 'On March 22, they invaded the administrative offices
>> of Nanterre University and demanded the right to hold political
>> meetings'. The subsequent 'Movement of March 22' was led by Danny
>> Cohn-Bendit and no doubt attracted others than anarchists.
>> Tuesday, May 7. Ten thousand students had taken possession of a vast
>> circle round the Arc de Triomphe, their red and black flags massed on
>> either side of the unknown soldier's tomb, singing the
>> 'International'. The police kept out of the way. General de Gaulle
>> declared that he would not tolerate any further student violence.
>> The students declared that they were ready for a dialogue on three
>> conditions: withdrawal of the police forces from the Latin Quarter;
>> release and immediate amnesty for the imprisoned students; reopening
>> the Sorbonne and Nanterre. Four hundred and thirty-four demonstrators
>> were that day under arrest. The police that day restored CohnBendit's
>> residence permit (but only for a short period).
>> Wednesday, May 8. Strong police forces still occupied the Sorbonne and
>> the student union delivered an ultimatum to the Government. If the
>> demands were not met they would 'liberate' the Sorbonne. Mon general
>> changed his tune and said: 'The Government is ready to take the steps
>> necessary for the adaptation of education to the modern world'. M.
>> Pierre Sudreau, of the Party of Modern Democracy, said in the French
>> Assembly that extremists had been trained in street fighting at two
>> anarchist camps.
>> Thursday, May 9. The Ministry announced that until calm was restored
>> the Sorbonne will remain closed. The students declared that as soon as
>> they reoccupied the Sorbonne they 'would take over the premises and
>> hold discussions day and night on the problems of the university'.
>> Friday May 10. The industrial unions (Communist and Christian) have
>> thrown in their lot with the students and called for a general strike
>> on Monday. Beyond Paris the movement is now supported all over France.
>> Several thousand young pupils marched through Paris with placards:
>> 'Tomorrow we shall have the same problem'-.
>> Saturday, May 11, saw the decisive battle and the defeat of the
>> Government. There was ferocious fighting, barricades were set up by
>> the students and cars were upturned to form a barrier. It was a night
>> of the barricades which the capital had not witnessed since the
>> Commune days of 1870. After a hurried conference with General de
>> Gaulle, M. Pompidou, the Prime Minister, announced the concessions.
>> The student unions were not overawed. The union described the
>> concessions as 'extremely interesting' but they would wait till Monday
>> to see if their comrades were to be released.
>> >From all reports the population of the Latin Quarter was solidly
>> backing the students. They showered debris over the police and water
>> over the students to minimise the effect of the chlorine gas grenades.
>> The demonstrators were themselves issued with a leaflet on how to
>> protect themselves against tear gas. They took an anti-'flu pill
>> before demonstrating and when the grenades started flying; carried
>> lemon-soaked handkerchiefs and smeared bicarbonate of soda around
>> their eyes.
>> The brutality of the police horrified all reporters. Photographs seen
>> in London, but unavaiIable to this paper, showed policemen clubbing
>> students on the ground, blood streaming from their faces. But the
>> students also fought back, kicked gas grenades back to the police, and
>> the police had to protect their faces from thrown stones with what
>> looked like fencing masks.
>> The French Government is desperately trying to cope with the
>> revolutionary situation forced by the students and now supported by
>> the working class. The general strike is called on the tenth
>> anniversary of de Gaulle's assumption of power, on the day that the
>> Vietnam 'peace talks' were to provide him with added glory. The
>> adulation in Sunday's British Press was an indication of the treatment
>> he was to-be given and still got without a reference to the upheavals!
>> The students will also have to fight off the dubious embrace of the
>> Communist Party and all those who are now climbing on the bandwagon.
>> But their cool determination hitherto to force their just demands is
>> an inspiration to us all!
>> ###########
>> Further details of publications and a sample edition of FREEDOM from:
>> E1 7QX
>> ###########
>> Do feel free to send comments and suggestions to
>> Freedom Press <freedom@tao.ca>
>> A-Infos disclaims responsibility for the information in this message.
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