pourkoijeveille

Un site non-officiel créé par des veilleurs et des sentinelles pour témoigner

History of the Vigils

May 2012

With 51.56% of the votes, François Hollande is elected President of the French Republic. His program aggregates 60 proposals, among which proposal number 31 “I shall open the right for marriage and adoption to same-sex couples”.

The difference between François Hollande and his competitor, former President Nicolas Sarkozy, is 1 million votes. 2 million votes are blank or invalid. 20% of the voters did not go to the polling stations.

This is on the basis of sucha  weak electoral legitimacy that the new government decides to unilaterally change the rules of filiation in France.

June 2012

Parliamentary elections give President Hollande an absolute majority at the National Assembly. Having also the majority at the Senate, the Socialists control the entire Parliament.

August 2012

On August 15th, for the Feast of the Assumption of Holy Mary, Cardinal André Vingt-Trois, archbishop of Paris, asks all parishes of France to pray for family. This call attracts many criticisms from several leftwing personalities who consider this request to be a direct opposition to the government’s agenda regarding family.

September 2012

On September 5th, a meeting gathers the representatives of more than 50 associations opposed to the “Marriage for all” bill . Among them are different organizations representing Christians from different sensibilities, but also gay and lesbian persons, leftwing voters, elected political members, lawyers, adopting parents and adopted children, Muslims and Jews. All agree on coordinating their response.

A few hours later, the agreement is broken when one of them, Civitas, an organization close to Christian fundamentalists and extreme-right political parties, unilaterally announces a massive demonstration in Paris on November 18th.

In order to avoid a hold-up of this debate by radicals and fundamentalists, all the other organizations decide, under the impulsion of Frigide Barjot, to create “La Manif Pour Tous” (“Demo for All” as a parody of “Le mariage Pour Tous” / “Marriage for All” which was the name of the government bill) and to call for a massive protest on November 17th.

October 2012

Alliance VITA, an organization member of the “Demo For All”, organizes on October 23rd a regional happening in order to alert French citizens on the dangers of same-sex marriage draft law for children : “a father, a mother: don’t lie to children!”. This demo, although taking place in the middle of a weekday, at noon, succeeds in mobilizing  several thousands of people simultaneously in 75 French cities. In La Defense, the business district in the outskirts of Paris, they are 4,000 according to the leftwing Libération newspaper quoting police estimates.

November 2012

On November 17th, a first massive demo organized by “The Demo For All” is gathering a number of citizens far beyond expectations: more than 200,000 persons have come to Paris from all over the country to demonstrate (70,000 according to police figures). In the meantime, 27,000 citizens are demonstrating in Lyon (22,000 according to the police).

After the success of the Alliance VITA happening in October, such a huge demo shows the will of a great number of citizens to be listened to on the topic of same-sex marriage.

Another achievement of the Demo for All: it is making clear its difference with the fundamentalists militants of Civitas who, on November 18th, only succeed to gather a few thousands people. A non-religious, peaceful, family-friendly movement, independent from any political party… the Demo for All, thanks to  Frigide Barjot’s communication skills, manages to make this debate acceptable in the opinion. The government does not react.

On November 20th, speaking at the congress of French mayors, François Hollande agrees on granting a “withdrawal right” (close to the principle of conscientious objection) to those who would refuse to marry same-sex people. LGBT organizations immediately express their anger and are received by the President who backtracks on his promise.

In spite of repeated requests from the Demo For All, the French president refuses to meet them.

December 2012

New local demonstrations are organized by Alliance VITA.

On 16 December, a demonstration gathering supporters in favour of the draft law gathers 60,000 persons in Paris. In spite of similar police figures, images show very sparse crowd to be compared with the human tide on November 17th. Police appears to have chosen its side, as well as journalists who seem to be blind to injurious and outrageous posters or flags waved by the supporters.

Unable to prevent crowds of French citizens to peacefully demonstrate in the streets, supporters including government members, MPs and LGBT leaders condemn a “climate of hatred and homophobia”. No matter whether the facts themselves contradict these speculations: not a single incident occurred during Demos For All, neither a single window broken, nor a single homophobic slogan uttered.

The trash-talking is to be found on the side of the LGBTs. Pierre Bergé – a billionaire who does not hide his broad financial support to LGBT organizations – pictures this discrepancy when declaring in front of cameras on November 16th: “Renting one’s womb to bear a baby or renting one’s arms to work at a factory, what is the difference?”

Pierre Bergé’s words underline an aspect of the debate which has to be taken account when considering the process which eventually led to the vote of this law: the ambiguous money relationship which binds the socialist power in France with the LGBT financial supporters like Pierre Bergé.

January 2013

On January 13rd, it is not one but 3 massive demonstrations coming from 3 different places in Paris which, despite the cold weather, converge to the Champ-de-Mars, at the foot of the Eiffel Tower. In a statement produced 3 hours before the end of the demonstration, while some demonstrators haven’t yet left their starting point because of the massive flood of people, the police estimates the crowd to be 340,000 persons. According to organizers, the figure is closer to one million.

The next day, the Secretary of State for Women’s Rights Najat Vallaud-Belkacem declares: “We acknowledge this demonstration […]. I am very respectful of this fundamental right to demonstrate”. It seems like one can “acknowledge” a demonstration without drawing any consequences of it.

On January  21st, 3 months after the first massive demonstration, François Hollande accepts to receive the organizers of the Demo For All at the Elysée Palace, stating that he would allow no change on the substance of the draft. This interview is emblematic of every debate on this issue: avoided, truncated, manipulated. The president and the government never had the intention to let the French citizens express their opinion on this topic. Afraid of being accused of homophobia, the media stick to the governmental track: when a debate is organized on TV or at the radio, there is a minimum ratio of 3 supporters to 1 opponent. French McCartyism, some would say.

Contempt, injustified accusations of hatred and intolerance, denial of reality… This behavior will deeply shock hundreds of thousands of French people who realize that democracy has been robbed to the sole benefit of a minority.

On January 27th, 125,000 supporters of the draft law demonstrate… according to the police. Slogans compete in terms of provocations and sexual allusions: The intelligentsia is delighted.

February 2013

The enthusiasm of demonstrators does not weaken: on February 2nd, local demonstrations are taking place in many different French cities, in spite of the cold weather.

In an attempt to open a debate being denied, the Demo For All decides to collect the 500,000 signatures needed to refer the topic to the Economic, Social and Environmental Council (CESE). Within 3 weeks, 750,000 signatures are gathered. On February 26th, after having asked the Prime Minister what he was supposed to do, Jean-Paul Delevoye, president of the Economic, Social and Environmental Council – supposedly an independent body – rejects the petition as being ineligible.

It is the first time ever that such a huge petition is collected in France within such a short notice.

March 2013

A new massive demonstration occurs on March 24th: 300,000 people according to police figures (vs 1.4 million for the organizers) keep standing for hours between La Defense district and the Charles-de-Gaulle Etoile roundabout, as well as on neighboring streets.

The police (ill-prepared ?) uses tear gas on a peaceful crowd before eventually allowing demonstrators to walk on the Champs-Elysée avenue (which had previously been forbidden).

On March 28th, in order to protest against the draft law, against the denial of democracy and against police violence, thousands of people gather together in front of the France Télévision (French Public TV) building where François Hollande is expected to deliver a speech. Police forces are out of proportion: hundreds of police vans once again opposing harmless demonstrators.

Journalists are questioning on a radicalization of the movement. Why don’t they wonder how a radicalization did not happen earlier, given the attitude of the government? Facing a denial of democracy and the hold-up of a minority on republican institutions, the temptation of violence is real and results in the birth of the Printemps Français (French Spring). The Demo For All decides immediately to distance itself from people following the French Spring.

April 2013

The bill which had been adopted in February at the National Assembly is now discussed at the Senate.

The debate at the Senate turns out to be even more ideological than at the Assembly. On April 4th Esther Benbassa, Senate member (Ecologist) for Paris, denounces the “traditional family” as being an “ideology”. On April 8th, Laurence Rossignol, socialist Senate member, states on TV (“Ce soir ou jamais”, Tonight Or Never) that « children do not belong to their parents, they belong to the State”.

In a letter sent to the Demo For All, Jean-Pierre Michel, Rapporteur of the bill at the Senate, writes: “I don’t see the point in receiving you […] You represent the worst of homophobias.” This letter alone sums up months of political fight for a people wishing to be heard, as it should be in a democracy, and a political power locked into its ideology and its refusal to let any dissonant opinion to be expressed.

Opponents are continuing their demonstrations in Paris: April 4th and 12th in front of the Senate, April 9th at the Carousel du Louvre. And in Lyon (April 14th), in Argenteuil, a Parisian suburb city (April 16th)…

The draft is finally and hastily voted by the Senate through a show of hands. Symbolic of botched debates, the vote was botched.

Dramatic development: whereas the final vote at the Assembly was scheduled end of May, the president of the Assembly makes a new schedule official: final vote will now take place on April 23rd.

Between April 16th and 21st, daily demontrations gather every evening 10 000 people in the neighborhood of the National Assembly in Paris. At the end of each demonstration, some hooligan try to “provoke” police officers in an attempt to discredit the movement.

In order to contradict these hooligans and to oppose any form of violence arise, for the first time, Les Veilleurs (the vigils) appear.

They gather after each demonstration on the Invalides esplanade where they sit on the grass, silently or singing the Esperance song (LIEN). In a country which is no more able to think by itself, the Vigils aim to think and share on fundamental issues which prove to be necessary in order to live together.

Considered as hooligans, the Vigils are brutally arrested by the police. They are taken without opposing any resistance into busses and driven to a distant police station where they are remanded in custody.

During this month of April 2013, every night after the daily demonstration, the same game is taking place: people of all ages, peaceful and silent, are taken by the police on political grounds.

A last massive demonstration takes place on April 21st with more than 45,000 participants according to the police (270,000 according to the Demo for All).

On the evening of April 21st emerges a new movement led by mothers: the Mères Veilleuses (the vigil-mothers). They decide to watch days and nights, from towns to towns, for human filiation. The presence of these women wearing a white scarf is questioned by passersby who willingly stop to discuss and try to understand their motivations.

The bill is finally voted on April 23rd, 2013. Not once did the government or leftwing MPs have granted any credit to the hundreds of thousands of French citizens who peacefully demonstrated their opposition to the draft bill.

Time will be long until bitterness and disillusion will disappear in the hearts of a large part of the French population. However this is not yet the end.

May 2013

Although the bill has been passed, the Vigils meetings extend to the whole country on a weekly basis. Just like in April, they result in detentions without charges.

A last giant demonstration is organized in Paris. In spite of the vote, 150,000 people are making the journey to Paris (police figures, vs more than 1 million according to organizers). “A last stand” writes a Liberation journalist. Which trade union wouldn’t be more than happy to have “last stands” of 150,000 demonstrators (police figures)?

On May 26th while French citizens are once again peacefully demonstrating, Jean Bourdeau, parliamentary assistant of Senator Jean-Pierre Michel, calls publicly to “shoot cannon balls” on the crowd: nobody in the media seems to be affected by this statement. On the contrary, Mr Michel will express his support by describing as a “joke” what remains clearly a invitation to kill.

In the meantime, any real or imaginary homophobic gesture in France are directly connected to the Demo For All, without any evidence or direct link of it, by all media.

Besides, the amateurism of the police when supervising some “highly sensitive” events is contrasting with the disproportionate and repressive use of force against peaceful demonstrators.

When hundreds of peaceful citizens are arbitrarily arrested or controlled, real hooligans are hardly prosecuted.

This worrying bias against the Demo for All reveals a “double standard” whose burden become month after month more difficult to bear. The climax is reached in June when a student close to the Demo For All is sentenced to 2 months in jail.

However, in spite of these manifest abuses from politics or the police, the mobilization goes on.

One will wonder why such a large-scale movement has kept its breath during 9 months, and still after the bill has been passed? On one hand, the way demonstrators have been despised by the government has certainly fueled the mobilization. On the other hand, demonstrators are worried of the next steps which are to come (medically assisted procreation for lesbians, surrogate mothers, etc.) and are demanding the repeal of the law whose vote did not respect the basic rules of democracy.

June 2013

In Paris, as well as in many other cities, the Vigils are carrying on their non-declared meetings in symbolic places: at the Invalides, at the Hôtel de Ville (City Hall), at the Ministry of Justice (place Vendôme), at the Louvre museum, at the Trocadéro… Sometimes the police proceeds to arrests, sometimes they don’t.

Groups of young people sometimes gather for spontaneous actions: Picnic for All, Hide and Seek for All…

On 19 June a young man, Nicolas, after many arrests, is tried and sentenced by a court to 2 months imprisonment. He is immediately transferred to the Fleury-Mérogis prison. Sentenced to jail for expressing a political opinion! A first in France for decades.

As a reaction, tens of people decide to protest in front of the Ministry of Justice (place Vendôme) standing silently like the “standing man” of Taksim square in Istambul.

Tens of them are standing silently, with a distance of some meters from each other so as not to prevent people from walking in and out the place and not to be considered as a demonstration, to express their indignation towards the judicial treatment applied to Nicolas. In the same spirit/vein as the Demo for All and of the Vigils, they decide to call themselves “Standing Vigils”.

The government’s reply is identical to that applied to the Vigils: They are brutally removed from the square, however unsuccessfully as they always come back, days and nights.

They are of all ages, of all social conditions, of all faiths. They alternate with each other to be present 24 hours a day, facing the ministry of justice. Many similar initiatives are occurring in Paris (in front of the Paris Courthouse, in front of Elysee Palace, in front of Matignon palace…), in other French cities (in Lyon, Nantes…) and in foreign countries (as in Italy for instance).

July 2013

The Vigils go on all over France but in Paris they stop at the mid of July. A “Great March of the Vigils” is organized for the second fortnight of August.

The Standing Vigils keep their static and silent protest. On July 9th, Nicolas is set free. Some of the Standing Vigils give up their action. Others choose conversely to carry on their protest, in order to denounce the way in which the Demo for All has been treated from the beginning and make clear that mobilization was still there.

August 2013

On August 10th starts the “Great March of the Vigils”. Leaving Rochefort on the western coast of France (North of Bordeaux) they are expected to reach Nantes after a 18-day trek. Walking North along the coast, they organize a vigil in each stage town where they stop in order to meet the local population and the tourists.

Their initial wish is to go to Notre-Dame-des-Landes to meet the opponents of a future airport: among them are to be found “deep ecologists” whose fight is common with that of the Vigils. A fight for human ecology where men and women are not considered as trade objects. This meeting cannot become reality as around Notre-Dame-des-Landes also gravitate radical activists who basically share the same vision of the Human Being as the current French government.

When approaching the city of Nantes, not far from Notre-Dame-des-Landes, the Vigils are violently assaulted by LGBT militants. This violence does not prevent them from following their route and their vigils.

The march is completed by two vigils taking place in the Parisian disadvantaged suburbs – Sartrouville and Bondy –  and eventually by a massive vigil in Paris on August 31st.

Some standing vigils announce their will to turn their name into “Sentinels”. The spirit remains the same, faithful to the non-religious and non-partisan principles of the Demo for All: The Sentinels are fighting against the Taubira Bill and to protect family. This change is motivated by a will of international visibility as Sentinels already exist in Spain and in Italy.

September-November 2013

The Vigils start again in Paris and continue in many French cities, each at its own pace: Some are weekly, other monthly or bi-monthly.

Standing Vigils and Sentinels also remain faithful.

In Paris, the Vigils decide to create a choir. Besides testimonies and readings, opera songs are now also echoing during vigils. Basic principles have not changed since April: pacifism, culture and slight transgression.

After 9 months, the vigils are still gathering hundreds of persons. At the opposite, the Paris Police Authority is still aligning hundreds of policemen in order to “protect republican institutions” from such a big danger.

December 2013

On December 13th, 52 Parisian vigils are brought into custody without grounds. The police chief superintendant declares to cameras that he takes responsibility for a measure that he reckons as illegal.

After many months of Vigils occupying the center of the stage, the Demo for All is coming back. There are many matters of concern: in addition to the abrogation of the Taubira Bill, the Gender theory is progressively spreading in the school system, medically assisted procreation for lesbians is threatening, as well as surrogate mothers, taxes on families are increased…

On December 15th, a demonstration is organized in Versailles and gathers 30,000 persons, showing a real will to continue the fight.

A large number of French citizens, roused by months of unsuccessful political fight, are ready to go again into the streets.

February 2014

On February 2nd, the Demo For All makes its come-back. Once again, deceiving all attendance and incident forecasts, 100,000 people march in the Parisian streets on this Sunday.

Once again the demonstrators are walking peacefully between Ecole Militaire square and Denfert-Rochereau square. A silent area has been decided over 500 meters at the Invalides.

After the demonstration, a few individuals try to start a street fight with policemen. They are contained and dispersed by the security volunteers of the Demo for All, proving once more their professionalism. 

Thousands of policemen have come all the way from their local bases to Paris, once more for nothing.

A few hours after the demonstration, the government announces the adjournment of the “Family Law” that was supposed to complete the Taubira Bill.

March 2014

Meddling into the French political campaign for the end of March municipal elections, the Demo for All offers candidates to sign a “charter for family” (http://www.chartedesmunicipales.fr/). 85% of the candidates who had signed the charter have been elected. Although the government refuses to see any link between the Demo for All and its historical deroute, some leftwing politicians, like defeated Patrick Menucci in Marseille (http://yagg.com/2014/04/01/patrick-mennucci-le-mariage-pour-tous-nous-a-coute-des-voix-sur-le-terrain-le-monde/), point out the negative impact of the Taubira Bill on voters.

The massive tide against the government leads the President to name former Secretary of the Interior Manuel Valls as the new Prime Minister. He expresses his wish to see more peaceful relationships on society topics.

The phenomenon of the Demo for All and its offsprings are arousing people’s interest.

In September 2013 a first book is published (« Et la France se réveilla : Enquête sur la révolution des valeurs ») by Vincent Trémollet de Villers and Raphaël Stainville.

In March 2014, a Swedish journalist living in Paris, Henrik Lindell, publishes « Veilleurs, enquête sur une résistance ».

On 10 April, a book dedicated to the Vigils movement (“Veilleurs”) is published by some of the Vigils themselves.

April 2014

The new Secretary of State for family, Laurence Rossignol, accepts to receive the Demo for All on 28 April. However, she mentions that there is no change to be expected.

 

 

 

 

 

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