Breizh/Brittany: Arrests provide new impetus to Breton Reunification campaign
Six young people were arrested in the southern Breton city of Naoned/Nantes at the end of December 2008, accused of causing damage to public property.
The six have been detained as part of a crackdown on pro Breton unification demonstrators after it was alleged they had written slogans on and 'defaced' the Pays de la Loire "l'Hôtel de Région" (regional building). It is believed that three of the demonstrators were arrested while in the act of damaging the property and the three others were arrested at their homes the following day.
Skoazell Vreizh, the Breton organisation that campaigns for the rights of Breton prisoners and those who are being investigated, reported on their website on Thursday (8th January) that all of the people arrested were remanded in custody for between 23 and 40 hours and are expected to appear in court on the 12th February 2009. The organisation said that the arrest and detention of the six people was "totally disproportionate" to the alleged crime in a democratic state. The organisation also called for solidarity for the six people arrested and has planned a demonstration in their support in Naoned/Nantes for the 31st January 2009.
Maryvonne Cadiou who lives in Naoned/Nantes, told the Celtic League that the three persons arrested initially were kept under "garde à vue" (police custody) for 40 hours each:
"From the night of Monday 29th (say midnight) till Wednesday afternoon around 4 pm."
Mrs Cadiou added:
"...they [were] forced to tell the names of others, the police arrested 3 other young ones at their home on Tuesday afternoon, [and] searching the homes of all 6, with their parents present... Horrible"
Ms Cadiou told the League that she blames the President of the Pays de Loire region, Jacques Auxiette, for the arrests:
"...the police act on orders from Jacques Auxiette... who does not [like] the Bretons and their fight [for reunification] in Loire-Atlantique".
In recent years, the President of the French Pays de la Loire region, Jacques Auxiette, has pursued a one million Euro public funded advertising campaign in an attempt to emphasise the French State's position that Loire-Atlantique is in the Pays de la Loire region and not in Brittany. The adverts - placed all over the Naoned/Nantes area including on public transport said that Loire-Atlantique is Pays de la Loire and succeeded in stimulating long felt resentment among the Bretons.
Over the last few years the campaign to highlight the partition of Breizh/Brittany by Breton activists has grown considerably and the public have become increasing vocal in their continuing disapproval. The partition, which occurred in 1941 - when the majority of France was under Nazi rule - has been actively upheld by successive post-War War II French Governments, who have refused to even consider Breton unification. Partition is widely seen among Breton activists as a deliberate attempt to weaken the Breton nation, because the largest metropolitan area in historic Brittany, Naoned/Nantes, is located in Loire-Atlantique.
Numerous calls from various organisations and prominent individuals for the reunification of Breizh/Brittany have been made since the end of World War II, including from the Celtic League who, almost since its inception nearly 50 years ago, has passed a number of resolutions on the topic. There have also been calls for a referendum to be held in Loire-Atlantique in recent years for the public to decide whether the region should be administered by Brittany or Pays de la Loire.
A petition calling for the reunification of Breizh/Brittany can be signed at the following internet address:
The six people arrested for painting slogans calling for reunification are among a growing number of young people in the region who are increasingly disaffected with the French democratic process and the injustice that the forced partition of a historic nation by State authorities entails.
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J B Moffatt Director of Information Celtic League 10/01/09