Police vehicles were torched and clashes were seen as thousands of police officers squared off with radical climate change activists in France on Saturday, as activists attempted to block the construction of an artificial rainwater reservoir for farm irrigation.
On Saturday, some 6,000 “violent activists” were met by around 3,000 police officers as they descended upon the site of a planned “mega-basin” to collect rainwater for farming irrigation at Sainte-Soline in the Deux-Sèvres region of Western France, Le Figaro reported.
The activists, who opposed the project on the grounds of climate change’s supposed impact on the distribution of water, picked up on the national state of violence in response to President Macron controversially increasing the state retirement age to wage some violence of their own.
According to authorities, at least 28 gendarmes were injured in clashes with the leftist radicals, with two officers being described as in “absolute emergency” as a result of their injuries.
ALERTE – Situation explosive dans les Deux-Sèvres ! De très violents affrontements sont en cours à Sainte-Soline lors de la manifestation contre le projet de méga-bassines. Plusieurs blessés. Les véhicules des forces de l’ordre sont en feu. (Facebook – PhoThéO) #SainteSoline pic.twitter.com/VYLZF4ZGYE
— Infos Françaises (@InfosFrancaises) March 25, 2023
In addition, three trucks and two gendarmerie vans were burnt to a crisp by the green agenda rioters, who reportedly used makeshift mortar missiles and Molotov cocktails against the police.
Prior to vacating the area on Saturday the horde of climate radicals managed to disable a water pump and a pipe within the basin.
“While the country is rising to defend pensions, we will simultaneously stand up to defend water,” the organisers of the protest-turned-riot said on Friday as they established a camp which they dubbed a “militant community” near the site on private land to avoid being removed by police.
They went on to call for a pause in construction and the formation of a “water sharing” scheme to prevent the “agro-industry” from controlling water supplies for their crops.
Jets de cocktails molotov sur les gendarmes, saccage des réserves d’eau.
Montée inquiétante de l’activisme écologiste dans notre pays.
Ces terroristes veulent abattre la France. Il est grand temps de les combattre ! #DeuxSèvres #megabassines pic.twitter.com/QHbh9APuMa
— Eric Ciotti (@ECiotti) March 25, 2023
The area has previously seen violent protests from far-left green activists, including in Octobe, when 61 gendarmes were injured, with 22 officers being injured “seriously”.
Minister of the Interior Gérald Darmanin condemned the “inexcusable violence” of the climate activists, insisting: “It is not the extreme left that will prevail.”
Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne, on the back of narrowly surviving a vote of no confidence earlier this week, denounced the “unacceptable acts as well as the irresponsibility of radical speeches that encourage these actions” and said that the government will give “support to the gendarmes and firefighters engaged in ensuring republican order in the face of an intolerable surge of violence”.
Meanwhile, failed leftist 2022 presidential candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon — who is often compared to Bernie Sanders in the United States — took to Twitter to criticise the “police violence” in Sainte-Soline.
Although authorities only reported seven injuries among the protesters, the leftist organisers claimed that up to 200 suffered some form of injury from the police use of tear gas grenades.
SUIVEZ EN DIRECT LA MOBILISATION D’AUJOURD’HUI
10 000 personnes sont déjà sur place, les convois massifs de 7 villes arrivent pour renforcer les cortèges…#SainteSoline #Mégabassines pic.twitter.com/Egnz2B5rAk
— BassinesNonMerci (@BassinesNon) March 25, 2023
The mega-basin project at Sainte-Soline is part of a wider effort started in 2018 among 450 farmers in partnership with the state to collect enough water during the winter months in order to have enough reserves for the summer when rainfall is less common in the region.
Proponents of the scheme have argued that it is crucial for the survival of the farms, particularly in light of recent devastating droughts.
The protest comes amid a wider anti-farmer movement across Europe, actually led by politicians and bureaucrats in Brussels, who have caused uproar in countries such as the Netherlands and Belgium for attempts to impose onerous green regulations that threaten to put thousands of working farms out of business.
EU Told Dutch Govt to Double Down on Forced Farm Closures to Gain ‘More Flexibility’ on Green Regulations https://t.co/2TyxHlSZBC
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) March 23, 2023
Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here @KurtZindulka