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France to shut down climate NGO after protest violence – English News – Report by AFR

French authorities are expected shortly to issue a decree shutting down a climate activist group after demonstrators clashed with police over a controversial irrigation project that left one man in a coma.

Government spokesman Olivier Veran accused the Uprisings of the Earth (SLT) coalition of encouraging the violence at the March protests near Sainte-Soline in western France, where authorities said around 30 officers were also injured.

“You don’t dissolve an association because of its ideas. You dissolve it because there is violence or a risk for public safety,” Veran told CNews television.

SLT had vowed to fight the shutdown order, saying on its website: “You cannot dissolve a movement. You cannot dissolve a revolt.”

Veran said SLT “whipped up violence at Sainte Soline by inviting rioters, who came from across Europe with metal bars and petanque balls to try and kill police officers”.

“The climate question does not justify throwing rocks at police in a field,” he said. 

SLT, a coalition of several activist associations, was also behind a recent protest against a sand quarry in western France, during which protesters tore up fields and equipment at a farm.

Its dissolution was officially launched by the interior ministry in March.

The decree is likely to be discussed at the government’s weekly cabinet meeting on Wednesday, a source close to the issue said.

France has faced a wave of protests in recent months, mainly over a hotly contested decision to push back the retirement age.

The protests have at times turned violent.

Demonstrators have vandalised buildings and street furniture or thrown rocks at riot police.

Critics accuse authorities of fomenting tensions with heavy-handed policing tactics and aggressive confrontations with demonstrators.

Many in France were shocked by the scenes at Sainte-Soline, where around 5,000 protesters clashed with more than 3,000 police officers.

The demonstrators were protesting against a giant reservoir for storing water pumped up from the underground water table.

Critics say it will penalise smaller farmers, local people and the ecosystem, while benefitting mainly industrial agriculture groups.

Earlier this month, United Nations experts urged France to review its policing practices, expressing concern at the “reported excessive use of force” against protesters, in particular at Sainte-Soline.

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