Greta Thunberg in Tarn “in solidarity with those who resist” the motorway project between Toulouse and Castres

Despite the ban on the demonstration and the intervention of the police on Friday, environmental activist Greta Thunberg joined a gathering of opponents of the project on Saturday, February 10, in Tarn, under pouring rain

Greta Thunberg in Tarn “in solidarity with those who resist” the motorway project between Toulouse and Castres

Despite the ban on the demonstration and the intervention of the police on Friday, environmental activist Greta Thunberg joined a gathering of opponents of the project on Saturday, February 10, in Tarn, under pouring rain. of the A69 motorway between Toulouse and Castres, which was overshadowed by clashes between Zadists and the police.

“We are here in solidarity with those who resist this project and this madness,” declared the young Swedish activist, who arrived in Saïx, a few kilometers west of Castres (south of France), with a delegation of French and international activists coming in particular from Belgium, Sweden and Spain.

Wearing a fuchsia raincoat, gray hood and Palestinian keffiyeh around her neck, she denounced a project which "will not only destroy nature and invaluable lands, but will also lock us into a toxic system based on exploitation, extraction and pollution ". “This must stop,” she added, speaking in English, before saying in French: “Stop A69! » She specified that she would be in the Bordeaux region on Sunday to support opponents of an oil exploitation project.

Greta Thunberg came to Saïx to participate in a weekend to raise awareness of environmental issues called La Cabanade and organized in a hangar on private land.

Massive use of tear gas

At the same time, about 300 to 400 meters away, around fifty police officers faced for hours activists occupying a “ZAD” (zone to be defended) made up in particular of cabins built in trees on the route of the future highway, to try to prevent the construction site from continuing.

The police, confined on a road, made massive use of tear gas but were unable to penetrate the ZAD, located on private land beyond a field and a path. of iron. The activists took refuge there, then came out, returning tear gas bombs to the police and other projectiles using tennis rackets, according to a photographer from Agence France-Presse (AFP).

Greta Thunberg and the other members of the delegations remained in the hangar to listen to speeches and interact with the activists. “I grew up in Toulouse. When there are ecological protests in France, I go there. We need to put a stop to it, we don’t have time to wait for our generation to take the helm,” explained Amine Messal, a 25-year-old Frenchman who defines himself as an “international activist” and a member of the association La Voix est libre, which convinced Greta Thunberg and other representatives to come and support the Tarn activists.

“Risk of major disturbances to public order”

On Friday, the prefect of Tarn announced that he had “issued an order prohibiting demonstrations and gatherings” on Saturday and Sunday in Saïx, citing “risks of major disturbances to public order”. “Gathering on a private estate, with the agreement of the owner, is not prohibited, everyone can invite whoever they want to their home,” the prefecture services clarified to AFP on Saturday.

“What happened yesterday [Friday] was that there were violent opponents who blocked the public highway with barricades, hence the strong action [of the forces of the order],” a prefecture official told AFP, confirming the arrest of two people the day before. Seven members of the police were injured, notably by stone throwing.

Parliamentary commission of inquiry

A parliamentary commission of inquiry at the initiative of environmentalist deputies will soon begin its work, in order to explore the “legal and financial set-up of the project”. According to its opponents, this decades-old project is obsolete, dating from before awareness of the changes in behavior made necessary by climate change.

In recent months, the protest movement seemed to be running out of steam, while “45% of the budget” for the project was committed and “95% of the deforestation” carried out, according to the Atosca company, the highway concessionaire.

The French government is determined to carry this section of motorway “to completion”, which would reduce the Castres-Toulouse journey by around twenty minutes and must be put into service in 2025. “Dear Greta Thunberg (…) The A69 motorway responds to a vital need for Tarn and its inhabitants,” declared the president of the Tarn departmental council, Christophe Ramond, on Friday.