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Attac France takes action against ISDS and corporate impunity

Stuck for ideas of what to do in your area? Be stuck no more. As this report from our French member network Attac France shows – there are plenty of things you can do in your local area to support the campaign.
Thank you Attac for sharing this report!
Wedding between the European Union and the big corporations: till activism do us part

On 11 May 2019, the local committee of pays d’Aix celebrated a “marriage” between the European Union and big corporations. But in the face of activist opposition from Attac, LDH, Collectif Climat, Gilets Jaunes, Solidaires, PCF, Partit Occitan and EELF, the marriage was cancelled. In this parody, everything turns out fine. The EU opened its eyes to the wrongdoings of the big corporations and married a representative of the people and the planet instead. Pure science fiction?

The objective of this theatrical intervention was to heighten awareness about the clear misdeeds and ongoing impunity of multinational corporations and the risks of arbitral ISDS tribunals as well as the importance of having a binding UN treaty on multinationals. The action was divided into two phases. There was first a wedding procession through the busy shopping streets of Aix en Provence which stopped in front of iconic examples of the damage done by multinational corporations such as by a pharmacy to denounce Bayer-Monsanto or by a recently closed library to discuss Amazon.

The second part of the day began when wedding guests gathered on the central square for the “ceremony”. The wedding ceremony was interrupted by representatives of people and planet. And the whole thing ends when the European Union decides to marry the representative of the people and the planet instead of the big corporations.

Find videos, photos and texts of the intervention here.

A baptism of fire for new activists at a Total petrol station

Attac 92 held an interactive workshop moderated by a seasoned activist with experience in civil disobedience, where everyone was able to express their individual feelings about different types of action.

After a presentation of the general campaign of Attac and the 4 targets (Amazon, Bayer-Monsanto, BNP & Total), more practical workshops took place:

  • An “identification” workshop to find a close target (which as it turned out was going to be a petrol station of Total about 200 meters away from the meeting)
  • A “build an argument” workshop, to build coherent, solid argumentation with strong messages
  • A stencil workshop with the search for messages to be written on site
  • A placard and banner workshop with slogans and even a chant!
  • Lots of interesting conversations between each workshop

And off they went to the Total petrol station: for one hour in all, 20 minutes on the spot which was incredibly crowded, a slightly surprised manager who let them do it until he was scared about security, and we got a very good reaction from the drivers…

The activists then evaluated the protest:

The challenges:

  • In such a short time frame, the number of drivers affected is very limited
  • Some confusion about the message as the protest was often understood as a criticism of high petrol prices.
  • The message around the UN treaty and ISDS could not be effectively communicated with such a short time for preparation and action.

The positives:

  • Our objective was to “get the activists to participate in a collective intervention unusual to them” was achieved in a cheerful, happy and humorous manner (also thanks to our three clowns).
  • Activists said they wanted to develop similar interventions collectively in the future.

Find the video of the intervention here.

A day at the petrol station

On 15 June 2019 activists from Attac Réunion (Reunion is a French territory in the Indian Ocean) supported by some Gilets Jaunes, gathered at a Total petrol station to oppose the social and climate crimes of multinational corporations. By addressing drivers and distributing leaflets this translated into a nice intervention, easily reproduced.

Find the video of the action here.

The lobby tour: discover the big corporation

On 10 May 2019, Attac Rennes marched through the streets of Rennes on a tour focussed on the lobbying efforts of multinational corporations, attracting the attention of bystanders. This lobby tour passed in front of emblematic sites in the big corporation universe: an Amazon Locker, BNP, Credit Agricole, Societe Generale and HSBC, Google and Bouygues.

By addressing bystanders, distributing leaflets and discussing with the public, this intervention was able to expose the influence of big corporations’ private interests at the detriment of the public concern.

Find a video of the intervention here.

A funeral for small business

On 29 June, some 20 citizens from Attac Nîmes and the local group Non à Amazon à Fournès ! (“No to Amazon in Fournès!”) conducted an act of civil disobedience targeting an Amazon Locker located in a shopping centre in Nîmes.

This Amazon Locker was redecorated as a columbarium during a ceremony accompanied by funereal music. In front of an attentive and concerned audience, the master of ceremony paid tribute to local businesses, which fell victim to Amazon.

This non-violent act had the objective to expose Amazon’s project in Fournès and calls for citizen’s support for a public inquiry which finishes the 3rd of July: http://www.registredemat.fr/Centre-de-tri-de-colis-ARGAN-Fournes

Amazon lockers for the people

By attaching fake Amazon discount coupons to Amazon Lockers, the local committees of Chambéry, Grenoble, les Ulis, Mâcon and Paris XII reached out to Amazon customers as well as bystanders. An easily reproduced act of civil disobedience, it consists only of finding an Amazon Locker (an exhaustive list for France can be found here) and distributing the fake coupons.

This was originally published in French at https://vie-interne.attac.org/campagnes/stop-a-l-impunite-des-multinationales/article/stop-impunite-les-comites-locaux-se-mobilisent