Tuesday, 15 December 2009

France: identity in question


Taken from the Open Democracy website: France: identity in question

It’s a familiar story. Every time France is in trouble, and when its politicians are in need of public support, they reach for a supposedly unfailing remedy: the nation.


The process can take many forms: nostalgia for past “grandeur”, fear of “foreign invasion”, return to “tradition”, reaffirmation of “national identity”. All are connected by the search for a vehicle to unite the French behind its leaders. The thread of continuity in this effort crosses generations and political boundaries: from Marshall Pétain invoking the “peasant roots” of a defeated France in 1940, to General de Gaulle's insistent “grandeur”; from François Mitterrand's election poster of 1981 that portrayed a quiet village with its church-steeple, to Jacques Chirac’s castigation in 1991 of “noises and smells that drive French workers next door insane”.


And now it is Nicolas Sarkozy’s turn. In November 2009, the president opened the latest grand débat sur l'identité nationale about what it means to be French: a project always destined to be controversial, but one made unnecessarily toxic by its political definition and resonances.

The full text can be found at the link provided above.

The website for the Grand débat sur l'identité nationale. If you speak French why not leave some comments in support of Frances national minorities.

Friday, 27 November 2009

The Socialist Party of Brittany - Breizhistance


A new party from the Breton left has been created to campaign for independence and equality for Brittany. The Socialist Party of Brittany- Breizhistance has absorbed  the former independentist left -Emgann- and, if reports are to be believed, welcomed numerous new members.

Good luck to the SPB-Breizhistance with solidarity from Kernow.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Cooperation between Cornwall and Finistere

CELTIC LEAGUE PRESS INFORMATION

COUNCIL COOPERATION

Cornwall Council recently played host to a delegation from the General Council of Finistere in Breizh/Brittany to further develop a 'Protocol of Cooperation' that was signed between the two councils in August 2009.

The protocol was set up so that Cornwall and Finistere can work together on areas of common interest and follows the signing of a letter of intent for cooperation between the two councils in May 2008. However, It wasn't until August of this year that the protocol was formally agreed to. Councillor Carolyn Rule, Cornwall Council cabinet member for the Economy and Regeneration, said:

"We have a lot in common with the General Council of Finistere in terms of the challenges we face and it was great to meet up with our opposite numbers.

"We looked at a whole range of issues and learned from each other about enhancing the quality of life of residents and achieving the highest quality of local government."

The Breton delegation that visited Cornwall this month took part in a series of meetings with their opposite number in Cornwall Council and were also given a presentation on Cornwall¡¯s current bid to be the European Region of Culture in 2014. This month a Cornwall ¨C Finistere Co-operation Officer, Aline Chever, will begin work to develop the main goals of the protocol for the next two years.

The main goals of the protocol are:

To develop common actions and possibly apply for joint application to European funding.

To identify common interests.

To exchange knowledge and experiences.

To share networks and to enable stakeholders to develop actions in common areas of interests.

¡¡
Some of the action points that were identified as areas of common interest between the two councils included maintaining identity, sustaining economic development and education.

It was agreed that the frame of the protocol should be flexible in order to adapt to emerging issues and activities.

At the Celtic League's annual general meeting 2009 - held in Cornwall - different possibilities of furthering cooperation between the Celtic countries was extensively discussed, including the possibility of encouraging more councils within the various nations of working together more closely on particular issues. (Note; this resolution complimented an earlier resolution on this subject agreed some years ago at an AGM in Alba)

Even though the League is encouraged to see that some cooperation is taking place on an inter Celtic level between Cornwall and Finistere, joint cooperation on a Cornwall and Brittany wide level would be better desired.

This month the League will decide what sort of model of Celtic cooperation would be best for the organisation to promote.

(Article compiled for Celtic News by Rhisiart Tal-e-bot)

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Breizh today by the Celtic League

A summary below from the Celtic League on the Breton movement in 2009.

One of the biggest developments this year in Breizh is the progression of the debate over the return of the territory of the Loire Atlantique to Brittany. The reunification of Brittany has been a long term aim of the League, but to date the issue has largely ignored by the French central government.

However, this year has seen the biggest proposed reorganisation of French `regional' territory since the Second World War (WWII) and with it a possibility that Brittany could be reunified. Draft proposals of the Balladur Report have considered the reunification of Brittany, which was split into two parts under Vichy France in 1941. Breton reunification was proposed in the report, but was couched in clauses. It stipulated that a referendum would need to be held on the issue in Loire Atlantique and a consultation process followed with the different regional assemblies concerned, to decide if the reorganisation should go ahead. However, resistance to reunification has remained stiff from both the right and left.

The Breton Regional Council, the departmental council of Loire Atlantique, a number of local councils have all previously voted in favour of reunification (the Breton Regional Council have in fact voted for reunification three times) and every poll conducted in Loire Atlantique shows that the electorate are strongly in favour of the same. Unfortunately, Mayor Ayrault and his Jacobin supporters, including the Mayor of Roazhon/Rennes, Daniel Delaveau, still believe that they can over rule any decision made in favour of reunification. There is still no comment on the report, which can be supplied by myself to anyone interested or can be
found here

It seems that the current economic crisis has taken priority over `regional' reform for the moment.

Both the Union Démocratique Bretonne (UDB) and Parti Breton (PB) had candidates in the European election, but only Parti Breton had their own list. Parti breton gained a credible 2.82% of the votes, which is pretty good considering it iwas the first time that the party has stood at the European level. PB were happy with the result, because it gave them a wider European profile and and further perspectives on how to develop.

The UDB put their support behind a new joint list (Europe Ecologie) made up of Green party candidates and representatives from the nationalist political parties that make up the Fédération Régions and Peuples Solidaires (RPS). The political parties that make up the RPS are also individual members of the European Free Alliance (EFA) European political party – along with the SNP, Plaid and Mebyon Kernow - and the agreement was that if one of the RPS members on the list was elected, they would represent the interests of all the nationalist political parties of the RPS.

The number two on the list and EFA Treasurer, François Alfonsi, was elected and consequently the UDB gained direct representation in the European Parliament for the first time. Alfonsi is a member of the PNC nationalist party of Corsica. The Europe Ecologie list was a shrewd piece of political manoevouring and even though it meant some compromises from the UDB, it nevertheless provided them with an elected candidate they can call their own. The UDB saw the development as "historic".

With regard to the Breton language, the Regional Council has pledged additional financial support and has agreed to finance some Breton language scholarships, but critics say that this is too little, too late. l'Ofis ar Brezhoneg (Office for the Breton language) has been continuing to persue a successful langauge charter campaign that has seen a growing number of Breton muniocipalities committing to the Breton language by agreeing to meet certain Breton language goals (actions) within a particular time frame. The first part of la charte `Ya d'ar brezhoneg'/`Yes to the Breton language' Charter was initially launched in 2001 are targeted business and organisations and saw hundreds join up. In 2004, the second part of the Charter was launched, which tartgeted municipalities.

On May 9th 2009, the Breton national anthem `Bro Goz My Zadoù' was played to and sung by a crowd of 80, 000 people at a French football cup final in the Stade de France stadium in Paris for the first time. The unprecedented event in the history of French league football became what Breton Agence Presse (ABP) called `la fête de la nation bretonne' (Breton national celebration), as the crowd attendance broke the stadiums attendance record. In is not unknown for the current French President to attend the football final, but on this occassion President Sarkozy did not show.

Another significant development has been the planned introduction of `regional' numberplates throughout the French state. After heavy lobbying by the Bretons, the French Government agreed that the Breton Gwynn ha Du flag could be included on the new plates and the word `Breizh'. The French government though has stated that anyone in the state can use any of the newly approved plates, no matter where you live. So in theory, people living in Paris can use the Breton plates, but this also means that Bretons living in the partitioned Loire Atlantique can also show their Breton roots by opting for Breton licence plates.

The www.bzh association was granted financial support from the Conseil Régional de Bretagne in December 2008 to establish the application for a top level internet domain name for Brittany, gather the necessary funds to ensure its submission and its promotion within the Breton community.

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

POLICE VIOLENCE AGAINST PEACEFUL PROTEST UNACCEPTABLE

The Celtic League strongly condemns the violence of the French police in the arrest and detention of members of the 44=Breizh collective in Nantes, Brittany last Saturday (25th April 2009).

The violent apprehension and arrest in particular of the spokesperson of 44=Breizh, Jonathan Guillaume, in a crowded restaurant among families with children, by a troop of French riot police, is an example of heavy handed policing of an extreme nature. Mr Guillaume, who had attended a demonstration earlier on in the day to protest about the political repression experienced by activists from the Pays de la Loire region who seek a return of the Loire Atlantique to Brittany, was hit with truncheons and handcuffed while he was talking to a journalist on the phone in the restaurant. The riot police also hit and arrested other customers in the restaurant after the owner asked the police to leave, leaving onlookers, including children, terrorised.

Mr Guillaume said:
"Sans que je m'y attende un policier me fit une clef de bras en me passant les menottes, j'eu à peine le temps de comprendre ce qui se passait que je vis des coups de matraque pleuvoir autour de moi avant d'être violemment projeter au sol. Menotté et un genou de policier posé sur le visage j'entendais autour de moi des cris et des bruits de verre sans discerner ce qui se passait. Une fois relevé, j'eu le temps d'apercevoir un camarade la tête en sang et l'enfant d'un ami terrorisé qui pleurait. »

(Without expecting it a police officer grabbed me in an arm lock and handcuffed me and I had hardly any time to realise what was going on when truncheon blows rained down on me, before I was violently pushed to the ground. I was handcuffed and the knee of police officer was pressed into my face...I heard cries around me and the noise of glass breaking, without even fully understanding what had happened. Once I was raised up I saw a colleague with his head covered in blood and the crying child of a terrorised friend.)

The police arrived en masse at the restaurant following the afternoons demonstration where windows of shops in the high street had been smashed by the protesters. The 44=Breizh collective, who are adamant that they had nothing to do with the broken windows, stated that as soon as the trouble on the high street started they left the main body of 400 demonstrators in order to protect the loud speaker sound system in their car.

After the arrest of Mr Guillaume and others at the restaurant, a group of 40 demonstrators gathered outside Waldeck-Rousseau police station, where the arrestees had been taken, where they waited for news for several hours. However, those arrested were not released until after over 16 hours of questioning and two were summoned to appear at Nantes court on 14th October 2009 charged with resisting arrest. Several people were wounded in the police attack at the restaurant and one person was hospitalised. The 44=Breizh collective is calling on anyone with photos or video footage of the arrests to come forward. The group also intend to make a formal complaint to the police authorities about the way its members were treated.

If nothing else, the actions of the police on Saturday show that demonstrators are right to express their concern about the repression of activists campaigning for a reunified Brittany. Mr Guillaume has himself been detained and interrogated by the police four times already this year.
J B MoffattDirector of Information

Celtic League

28/04/09

Saturday, 25 April 2009

Adam Price on Brittany

A great speach here from MP/AS Adam Price. The section on Brittany is copied below but please do read the full version as it's a cracker.

Mae Llydaw, gwlad ein cefndryd Celtaidd, gollodd ei hanibynniaeth dim ond pedair blynedd cyn Gymru ym 1532 ar fin cael ei hail-uno ar ol ei rannu o dan Lywodraeth Vichy. Mae’r brifddinas, Nantes, gefeilliwyd gyda’n prifddinas iau ni yma yng Nghaerdydd ar fin dychwelyd adre os ydy Pwyllgor Edouard Balladur sydd yn edrych ar ail-lunio map strwythurau tiriogaethol Ffrainc yn cadw at ei addewid. Ni fydd Ffrainc, wrth gwrs, yn rhoi mewn heb frwydr. Y mis yma dedfrydwyd chwe Llydawr ifanc a baentiodd adeiladau cyhoeddus a’r TGV gyda sloganau o blaid undod Llydaw i ddirwy anhygoel o 30,000 Ewro a deufis o garchar wedi ei ohirio.

(Translation: Brittany, the land of our cousins, which lost its independence just four years before our own in 1532 - may finally be reunited after its division at the hands of the Vichy government. The historic capital of Nantes, twinned with this our much younger capital of Cardiff, may finally be coming home if Edouard Balladur’s Committee looking at redrawing the map of France’s territorial divisions sticks to its proposals. Ten thousand have marched in Nantes to end the scandal of partition. Of course, France will not give up without a struggle. This month six young Bretons who sprayed graffiti for Breton unity on public buildings and a TGV have been fined E30,000 and given a suspended two month jail sentence as punishment.)

SUPPORT GROWS FOR BRETON LANGUAGE CHARTER

Guipavas has become the latest municipality in Brittany to sign the la charte `Ya d'ar brezhoneg'/`Yes to the Breton language' Charter (opens pdf) .

The Charter - launched by l'Ofis ar Brezhoneg (Office for the Breton language) in 2001 - sets out a commitment for the signing party to meet certain Breton language goals (actions) within a particular time frame. The signing of the municipality of Guipavas (on 21st April 2009) comes only within a couple of weeks after the signing of the charter by the commune of Roskoff whose municipality signed the charter on 10th April.

The Charter is in two parts. The first part of the Charter - launched in 2001 - was aimed at organisations and businesses and attracted 635 signatories. Following its success a second part of the charter was launched in 2004 and was aimed at municipalities within Brittany.

The Ofis ar Brezhoneg offers a certification programme that offers a list of 28 different actions for the municipalities to choose from, spread out over three certified levels. Actions include:
The establishment of bilingual signs at the entrance or exits of town, bilingual messages on answering machines, the creation of a bilingual website for the town hall through to the use of a systematic bilingual policy for all new signs throughout the municipality, conducting a survey of parents to determine the demand for bilingual education and the financing of a bilingual educational programme for all municipal staff. It is expected that to achieve the highest level of certification (level 3) the municipality should complete the actions agreed upon over a period of a maximum of 3 years.

Ofis ar Brezhoneg liaises closely with and monitors the development of the municipalities' agreement, although of course it is not legally binding in any way and depends on a large extent on good will and the credence that the municipality attains from showing its support from the Breton language. Support for the Charter has come from a wide variety of different groups and in the first part some 600 organisations, including restaurants, businesses and museums, signed the Charter. The list of municipalities that is signing part 2 of the Charter is also growing at an incredible rate and there are now almost a hundred municipalities who have signed, showing their commitment to the language.

The Breton nationalist party, Parti Breton, also signed the Charter this week (23rd April), committing itself to 18 actions, which include making all its promotional materials and communications bilingual, including its logo, website, membership cards and voice mail. The Charter was signed by Emile Granville, spokesman for Parti Breton and assistant Mayor of the city of Redon.

The model of the Ya d'ar brezhoneg charter could easily be ameliorated in the other Celtic countries, especially in Cornwall, Isle of Man and Scotland where the different Celtic languages could be much better promoted.

(Article compiled for Celtic News by Rhisiart Tal-e-bot, Celtic League General Secretary)
J B MoffattDirector of Information
Celtic League
24/04/09

Thursday, 2 April 2009

BREIZH - RESULT OF TEN YEAR LANGUAGE STUDY RELEASED

A socio linguist has published the results of his ten year study on the use of the Breton language and has found that the number of speakers in Brittany has fallen considerably.

Fañch Broudic, a former journalist at France 3 Ouest, reported that:

"Pour la première fois, dans la zone traditionnelle de la pratique de la langue, le nombre de locuteurs est inférieur à 200 000."

("For the first time in the traditional practice of language, the number of speakers is less than 200 000,")

The study – published by l'institut TMO in Rennes on 10th March 2009 – highlights the concerns that have been expressed about the future health of the Breton language by the Celtic League and others over several decades. According to Broudic in 2007 there were 172,000 people speaking Breton, compared to 246,000 people in 1997. He adds that even though there is a growing number of students learning Breton in schools, the rise does not compensate the fall in the number of speakers, saying:

"Nous avons perdu 80.000 locuteurs pour cause de décès et gagné seulement 9.000 nouveaux locuteurs." (We lost 80,000 speakers and gained only 9000 new speakers)

Unsurprisingly the study shows that among the current Breton language users, 70% are over 60 years old. Philippe Jacq, the Director of l'Office culturel de la langue bretonne (Cultural Office of the Breton language), believes that between 20 and 30 new schools need to be opened annually if the language has any chance of surviving.

Broudic's study shows further proof that without official support and funding from the French state, the Breton language is in danger of significant future decline, giving rise to "la hantise de la disparition du breton" (the fear of the disappearance of Breton).

According to predictions and current trends, the number of current speakers in ten years time could be as few as 122, 000 people.

The TMO survey shows that only 35 000 people speak Breton on a daily basis, with the typical Breton speaking profile being a married female, over 60 years old and living in the Finistère region of Brittany.

Broudic nevertheless argues that 200 000 "ce n'est pas un chiffre insignifiant et le breton se parle toujours" (is not an insignificant figure and Breton are still alive).

Also, the results of the study show that not all was bad news for the Breton language, because it was found that in the 15 to 19 age group, the number of Breton speakers had risen from 1% to 4%.

By choosing not to support the Breton language however the French Government continues to show its utter contempt for linguistic diversity and the people who use the language.

For further information about the results of the study, see "Parler breton au XXIe siècle" (Speaking Breton in the Twenty first Century), by Fañch Broudic.

(Article compiled for Celtic News by Rhisiart Tal-e-bot)

J B MoffattDirector of Information
Celtic League

Friday, 6 March 2009

PENALTY IMPOSED ON REUNIFICATION PROTESTERS PUNITIVE

Six young people, who were arrested following a graffiti campaign to highlight the continued disaffection among residents of Loire Atlantique about the territorial division of Briezh/Brittany, were sentenced to a two months suspended prison yesterday.

The sentence, which also included fines totalling over 30, 000 Euros and100 hours community service each, was immediately criticised by their supporters for being disproportionate and politically motivated. Supporters pointed out that in a recent similar court case, three graffiti artists were only fined 500 Euros for a comparable amount of damage caused. Their lawyer said that he would immediately appeal the verdict.

All six youths were sentenced in Naoned/Nantes, the main city of the Loire Atlantique department, which was annexed from Briezh/Brittany in 1941. Ironically, the youths were sentenced on the same day as the Balladur Committee was expected to give President Sarkozy its final report, which Breton nationalists were hoping would recommend the reunification of Loire Atlantique with the rest of Briezh/Brittany.

However, the Mayor of Naoned/Nantes, where the trial of the youths took place, has been campaigning himself among Balladur Committee members, for the reunification of Briezh/Brittany to be left out of the final report.

J B Moffatt
Director of Information
Celtic League
05/03/09

Thursday, 26 February 2009

'Regions' re-jigged

Good news for Breton autonomists contained within the recent proposals from the Balladure comity on redrawing the French regional map.


However Brittany does comes out a winner, reunified as it will be with Nantes.

Taken with the story that Breton cars will soon be able to display their national flag, the Gwenn ha Du, on their number plates, it all looks like good news for once.


Isn't it Cornwalls turn next????

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Brittany stands up for reunification in Paris

As Cornwall is forced into being part of an artificial administrative region so Brittany is divided between two purely administrative regions. The department loire-atlantique (pictured here as Naoned) was undemocratically carved off the Breton nation and attached to the artificial region Pay de la loire, but things could be about to change for the better.

Taken from Nationalia:

Breton political, cultural and businessmen representatives exhibit an unprecedented display of unity and strength as crucial time for France’s territorial reform draws near · More than 100 Breton important figures call for reintegration of the Loire-Atlantique department into the region of Brittany with a clear message: “It’s now or never.”

Supporters of the reunification of Brittany called for the current territorial reform underway to reintegrate the department of Loire-Atlantique into the Breton region. The restaurant of the renowned Breton chef Jacques Le Divellec was the place where members of Breton public life gathered to endorse the demand signed by 100 important Breton figures. The message is addressed to Édouard Balladur, the politician Nicolas Sarkozy entrusted with the drafting of a report on "the reform of the territorial collectivities".

Several politicians attended the event, such as the president of the region of Brittany, Jean-Yves Le Drian (Socialist Party), MP's of the Union for a Popular Movement, Marc Le Fur, Jacques Le Guen and Dominique de Legge (UMP), as well as Mona Bras (Breton Democratic Union) and Fabrice Loher (Democratic Movement).

Other important figures attending the gathering were businessman Christian Guillemot, from UbiSoft, geographer Jean Ollivro, President of the organization United Brittany, Jean-Yves Bourriau, founder of TV Breizh, Patrick Le Lay, writer Irène Frain, the Routard owner Philippe Gloaguen, and Noël Couédel, director of the Festival Interceltique, among others.
Breton online journal Ouest-France.fr
cites several comments made in Tuesday's event.

Reunification, closer

Apart from cultural and historical reasons -Nantes, the capital of the Loire-Atlantique department, was formerly part of Brittany and retains cultural preponderance- Christian Guillemot, from the software company UbiSoft argued that "Brittany will be stronger and attract more business if the 5 departments are reunited".

The gathering should have some effect on the report Balladur is currently drafting and which will be issued before March 1st. The movement for the reunification of Brittany has reached its climax amidst Sarkozy's recent
public statement in favour of "experimental and voluntary fusion of regions". Breton supporters are then confident that their goals will be attained during Sarkozy's current term.

Saturday, 31 January 2009

Britanny - Wales, Two Nations, One Struggle

Great to see some solidarity with our Breton neighbours coming from Wales. The below is taken from the blog British Nationalists in Wales WATCH.

Some in Wales tend to think of Brittany as a poor relation to Wales. It's true their language is weaker but then, they've been under the thumb of the fascistic policies of the French Republic for two hundred years. The state which claims to be for Equality and Fraternity and Liberty, but under those words have decided on a deliberate policy of killing the Breton language or any meaningful cultural and political Breton identity. It's no coincidence that the Turkish republic sees the French constitution as it's template for denying rights to the Kurds and that the Chinese and Russians also use the same Newspeak as the French.

For the full article click here

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