18:49 GMT +318 August 2018
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    Zad activists look at French gendarmes from a barricade in an area known as ZAD (Zone a Defendre - Zone to defend) with environmental protesters occupying the site of what had been a proposed new airport in Notre dame des Landes

    Zadist Protesters in Western France Reject Government’s Eviction ‘Ultimatum’

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    Ecological protesters in Notre-Dame-des-Landes in France’s western Loire-Atlantique province denounced on Thursday the "new ultimatum" by the government, which wants to see them leave their occupied "defense zone" (ZAD) settlement by May 14.

    The activists, called "Zadists" in France, are criticizing the government for having changed the date of a scheduled meeting of the steering committee, which will have to examine the 28 "agricultural" projects that they tabled last week in the province, to be 3 weeks sooner than before. The Zadists are occupying a series of fields about 20 miles north of Nantes, where the Aéroport du Grand Ouest was proposed to be built.

    "For us, it is not a dialogue, not a real truce, but a new ultimatum and a new blackmail for the destruction, for the sorting and for further evictions", declared a resident of the ZAD during a press conference.

    According to a press release posted at zad.nadir.org, a dossier has been filed with the provincial government with nearly 40 individual applications concerning the various concrete projects existing and under construction in the ZAD.

    "Yesterday, we were at the Departmental Directorate of Territories and the Sea, where we talked about June 6 as a deadline for reviewing of our files," lamented Cyril Bouligand, member of COPAIN 44, a collective of farmers opposed to the former airport project. "It's going to make it difficult for us, when we need time to get things done."

    "We welcome the truce, but will it be real, will we continue to have armored vehicles in the zone every morning," another Zadist asked the journalists. "It must not only be a truce of expulsions, but a truce of constant pressure and daily injuries."

    Earlier this month, nearly 2,500 French police assembled to try and evict the roughly 250 Zadists encamped at the abandoned Notre-Dame-des-Landes Airport project site, who fought back with petrol bombs and tires, the Guardian reported April 8.

    The last illegal occupants — who continue to demand the departure of the police — will have to leave by May 14, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe declared Thursday on TV channel Europe 1.

    "The prefect [of Loire-Atlantique] will convene on May 14 the first meeting of the committee for the purpose of analyzing the dossiers filed by those illegal occupants who want to return… in common law," he said.

    "From the moment these procedures are in place, those who have chosen not to join will have to leave the place and there is no doubt about the determination of the government: it is total," the Prime Minister added.

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    Tags:
    ultimatum, protests, environment, Zone a Defendre (ZAD), zadists, France
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