The small village Bure in eastern France in the past years has become the epicentre of the environmental movement against nuclear power. Some Environmentalists from France and Germany settled down here permanently and part time to join forces for the struggle. They bought some land and an old farming house in the village, the “maison de resistance”. Our friends received us with warm hospitality in the lively kitchen, the bawn and the garden where we slept and spend our days during four wonderfully inspiring days.
The “maison de resistance” is the permanent base for new and veteran activists that recently flocked to the Champagne region to stop the scheduled construction of a gigantic final burriage site for France´s abundant nuclear waste. We are grateful to contribute supporting this struggle with our presence and scheduled a long stay from Tuesday until Sunday.
After getting of our bikes in Tuesday´s afternoon, we sat down in the garden with one of the permanent residents and learned about the history of the region. People from a mostly anarchist background have occupied a forest close by and erected plenty of barricades made from car tires, concrete blocks and wood. They hinder cars from entering the forest and thus have stopped its scheduled logging – seemingly necessary for the further construction of the waste disposal site. Most are living on tree houses all year round, the meet and cook in the forest and sometimes take a rest in the maison.
They have been through many confrontations with the local police and even stood the ground against anti terrorist forces that are regularly abused to suppress the environmental movement. However all attempted evictions were fended off, the forest is still there! In the tour of the forest we visited a 50 meter piece of a formerly concrete wall, maybe three meters high. The graffiti give it a touch of the Berlin wall.
The authorities had planed to encircle the whole forest with the wall to allow for its logging. Before it was finished, the forest occupants tore it down and turned the concrete elements into large barricades laying stray between the trees. The destruction of the forest would be one step of preparing the whole region to become a gigantic nuclear waste site. As our host explained, the intention is to allow nuclear power plants to carry on for many more years, producing more highly toxic waste, instead of shutting down finally and stopping this insane industry from destroying the planet. [Also the regions in Africa where France´s Uranium is mined are heavily polluted with radiation and toxic metals]
After some rainy days that left us with moisture everywhere we could finally dry up in sunny and windy Bure and took a good rest. Wednesday we visited the forest and talked to the activists. We began building a second rocket-stove for our kitchen and helped in the forest with construction works. Every day we are now having yoga sessions in the morning and daily circle meetings, in which we discuss what we will do in the next days. Things are going better and better.
After all we are happy to have arrived in Bure at all! When we cycled from Nancy we had to pass two police road posts that stopped us and asked for our plans and checked some ID cards. France is still in a state of emergency and police here is regularly bullying anti-nuclear activists. Due to our limited French language skills we could unfortunately not ask why the policemen and -woman have so strong attachements for the nuclear industry and their profits.
With our friends from the group “Bure Haleurs” we went Thursday to the Andra nuclear laboratory complex and the “Bure Haleurs” initiated singing and dancing there, to add some humour and especially to display to the present police men and woman that they are not our enemies but rather being used by greater forces as pawns in the struggle.
We became witness to that strange loyalty Friday during the farewell festivity given from our hosts. We sat on benches on the read and dancing. Everything was perfectly peaceful when Police came and asked us to clear the village road. As there was actually no traffic at night that was simply meant to annoy us. We refused and kept dancing and singing on the street and even some neighbours came to speak out for us. After a long and respectful conversation the police finally left and we enjoyed the summer night on the street under a delightful sky filled with stars and an increasing, orange coloured half moon.
Saturday some people awoke sick from our Humus that was one day too old after all (never eat sour Humus!). So we decided to leave one day later, Sunday and had a relaxation day Saturday. Besides taking care of the sick, people where lying in hammocks, singing, reading, doing Qi Gong and Yoga and improving their ability to speak in French with our friends.
Bure is a very lovely place in a region shaped by old villages from gray natural stones, a charming countryside, full of rolling hills rendered by flowers, old oak forests and arcadic places. What a misery it would be, this all poisoned by nuclear waste! And how much worse, if that happened only to continue nuclear power and delay France´s nuclear bail out! We hope to have contributed to stop this and save this place.
We leave Bure with one eye laughing and one crying. Our friends waved us good farewell, the police gave a last saltue et venceremos. Sortie nucleaire maintenant!
— Text: Conrad, Photography: Hedwig —