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The Battle for ZAD: Victory for anti-airport movement

France
Environment
Activism

Over the past decade the proposed 1,600-hectare site known as ZAD (Zone to Defend) has become Europe’s ‘largest post-capitalist land occupation’, according to activists. With over 90 living spaces, activists consider ZAD to be a self-organized utopia. In the words of a local politician, it is a ‘territory lost to the Republic’.

‘This struggle was won because it brought together a rich variety of rebels and a diversity of tactics, from petitions to land occupations,’ says ZAD resident John Jordan.

But the victory comes with a twist. The government insists that the occupiers must still leave or face eviction. Previous eviction attempts have faced fierce resistance. The last in 2012 saw 1,200 police massively outnumbered by 40,000 people taking action to defend ZAD.

Residents insist that stopping the airport was only one goal: ‘The slogan since 2015 has been “against the airport and its world”,’ Jordan says. ‘All the alternative ways of living and producing need to be defended.’

‘We beat the airport, four governments and one of the world’s largest construction multinationals. But now the real struggle begins.’

Editors note: as of 9 April 2018, a police operation is underway to evict 250 activists from ZAD.

New Internationalist issue 511 magazine cover This article is from the April 2018 issue of New Internationalist.
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