In the Face of State Repression and Employer Violence, Let’s Stand Together!

April 22, 2024 editorial of the New Anticapitalist Party (NPA) in France, translated from French

On Thursday, April 18, Jean-Paul Delescaut, secretary of the CGT Union’s North Branch, was given a one-year suspended prison sentence and fined 5,000 euros for “apology for terrorism.” The union activist was prosecuted for a collectively-written leaflet distributed on October 10, three days after the Hamas attack on Israel. This condemnation sounds like a warning to all those who express their solidarity with the Palestinian people, crushed under the bombs in Gaza for over six months and victims of 75 years of colonial oppression.

Criminalizing support for the Palestinian people

“The horrors of the illegal occupation have been piling up. Since Saturday [October 7], they have received the responses they provoked.” It was this passage from the leaflet that enabled the courts to rule that the leaflet “constituted a legitimization of a mass attack under the guise of a historical analysis.” Jean-Paul Delescaut is not an isolated case. Rima Hassan, LFI [La France Insoumise (Rebellious France) political party] candidate in the European elections [who is a Palestinian exile], was summoned by the police on April 30, also for “apology for terrorism”, just after the ban on the public meeting in solidarity with Palestine that she was due to hold in Lille with Jean-Luc Mélenchon [leader of LFI]. This is also the case for Siham Assbague, journalist and anti-racist activist, and Anasse Kazib, railway worker, revolutionary activist and Sud Rail [a railroad union] trade unionist, among many others. According to the Ministry of Justice, 600 proceedings were underway in January 2024 for “apology for terrorism” or “provoking racial hatred.” This is a veritable escalation of repression, aimed at silencing all dissent and based on a highly selective indignation. To date, no legal action has been taken against those who legitimize the ongoing genocide in Gaza, which has already claimed more than 34,000 lives under the bombs, a third of them children, and is continuing with organized famine.

An authoritarian drift against all forms of protest

This repression of those who support the Palestinian people is a further step in the authoritarian and freedom-crushing course of [French President] Macron’s government. Demonstrations and political meetings banned, activists summoned by the police, high school students placed under surveillance, athletes, researchers, academics, writers, film-makers blacklisted, deputy mayors deprived of their duties… the government is sharpening its repressive weapons to use them tomorrow on a much larger scale against social protest, which it has every reason to fear.

After announcing budget cuts in public services, which will weigh particularly heavily on the working classes, and after the new attack on the rights of the unemployed, the bosses are continuing their offensive with the announcement of hundreds of redundancies. While shareholders gorge themselves on dividends, workers are promised plant closures. Stellantis threatens several of the group’s plants. ExxonMobil has announced the sale of several sites and the loss of 677 jobs in Gravenchon. And now it’s [French pharmaceutical firm] Sanofi’s turn to announce 300 job cuts.

The government is not to be outdone, with its Minister for the Civil Service, Guérini, announcing that layoffs will no longer be “taboo” in the civil service. [Civil servants in France have job security similar to having tenure in a university.] In reality, civil servants are already being dismissed for disciplinary reasons. But the government is using many other methods to reduce the workforce, from hiring freezes to worsening working conditions to pushing out exhausted workers.

So, yes, there are many reasons to revolt and organize against this barbaric world engendered by capitalism and the law of profit. And we can’t allow ourselves to be gagged.