Nantes: Students and refugees occupy the castle of Tertre

Since 26th November, students occupy the castle of Tertre in Nantes. The building, belonging to the University, was occupied with participation, and in solidarity with, the refugees. The trigger for action was Nantes left-wing local government refusal to house refugees, many of whom are unaccompanied children, and instead leaving fully functioning building capable of giving shelter to hundreds of people, empty. Moreover, the university’s press releases hinted that, contrary to the evidence, there are no young homeless people on the streets of Nantes, the statement which outraged the students.

The occupation started towards the end of a students party held at the castle. The students, along with refugees, took over 888 m² of space spread over three floors, in order to house unaccompanied minors. Since then, the occupation met with police harassment, legal action in order to evict it, and attack from local fascists.

On Monday 4th December, the University obtained eviction order and it is expected it will execute on it soon. On Monday night, the building was attacked by fascists. At around 11pm, a group of dozen or so people charged at the building, released gas inside of its front room, hit number of people with telescopic batons, and stole a banner. In result of the attack, one person was injured. The participants of the occupation believe that since the fascists came equipped with CS gas and telescopic batons, it is a clear indication of police involvement in the attack. Many occupants fear it is a prelude to impending eviction.

Nantes castle occupation is yet another example of French students taking action in solidarity with refugees in France. In recent weeks, similar actions took place in Lyon and Marseilles. French students are outraged by governments apparent unwillingness to provide shelter and humane living conditions to refugees who currently are in France. Instead, French state is applying the policy of harassment against homeless refugees. Recent months saw violent evictions of refugees from cities and camps. They are often being forced to accommodation which is inadequate.

The situation of the refugees dramatically deteriorated recently due to freezing conditions. It has been snowing in France, and many refugees are lacking essentials necessary to cope with cold weather, and instead are left in the cold without tents, blankets, sleeping bags, and in some cases even jackets. In addition, French police destroys every tent or shelter they can find, confiscates blankets and sleeping bags, or spray them with CS gas to render them unusable.

ZB