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

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