BY DANNY FAIRFAX
Denouncing the arrest of Jose Bove, one of the most high profile global justice activists in France, 3000 people protested in the town of Millau, the major population centre of Bove's home region Aveyron, on June 28.
Bove, a spokesperson for the Confederation Paysanne (the French farmers union), first rose to fame within the movement for his widely relished bulldozer attack on a branch of MacDonalds, which cost the corporation $200,000 in damages. Since then he has become a prominent mouthpiece for anti-globalisation struggles and solidarity movements with Third World farmers against multinational agribusinesses.
The recent arrest was for alleged destruction of genetically modified rice and maize samples and carries a sentence of 10 months in prison. In outrageous scenes, 80 police officers with teams of dogs, and even a helicopter, raided Bove's 500-year-old farmhouse at dawn on June 22 and crashed through his window to whisk him to prison.
Quoted in London's Daily Telegraph, Bove's lawyer Francois Roux said it was "incomprehensible that [the police] needed such a huge force for a non-violent activist who had always said he would not try to escape".
The protest was organised by the Confdration Paysanne and supported by ATTAC (Association for the Taxation of Financial Transactions to Aid Citizens) and the major trade unions. It called for an end to repression of unionists, and demanded that French president Jacques Chirac grant Bove clemency in his annual Bastille Day decree on July 14.