Paris, 23 November 2015 — The killings committed in Paris and Saint-Denis on the evening of 13 November have been absolutely shocking. After the sorrow and mourning, we all try to make sense of the terrible violence of these attacks, a reminder of the current state of the world.
However, in this critical situation, the French Government and the majority of the political class has adopted authoritarian and belligerent stances that we consider deeply flawed.
Let there be no mistake: neither war or a police state established by the law on the state of emergency would be able to protect us from the murderous frenzy that we have witnessed. We should have learnt our lesson from the obvious failure of “wars on terror” and the many security laws adopted during the last fifteen years. By preventing a quiet reflection on the wider causes of these heinous crimes, by not making a real assessment of how to combine security actions while protecting fundamental freedoms and our social structure, we will surely sacrifice both our freedom and our security.
Despite the increasing outbreaks of ever-worsening violence, the government has systematically blocked efforts to investigate the causes of these security breaches, and only answers with “It didn’t work, so we will further proceed towards a surveillance society based on distrust”. The bill on extending the state of emergency was voted almost unanimously, which reflects a deep sense of unease regarding democracy unworthy of France. Is it possible that emergency laws and even the Constitution would be changed at will by the executive power, if it considers that a judicial counter-power is no longer necessary?
Today, at a time when the government — despite hesitation even within itself— believes that it must react with even more “emergency laws”, we fear that the shock waves shaking our society will shove it away from democracy.
In order to break free from this toxic spiral that threatens to undermine the way we live together and the very essence of democracy, the terrorist attacks need a political response that is willing to face these crimes, while warding off a “clash of civilisations” doubled with an internal civil conflict within our society. This is a condition for peace and for the survival of the democratic ideal. It is also the best way to honour the memory of those killed.
Hence, we demand the creation of a parliamentary investigation committee charged to conduct an open and transparent investigation on the attacks and on the laws that regulate surveillance and the fight against terrorism that have been voted throughout the last three years. The committee will examine the policies and shortcomings that may have helped, or that didn’t manage to stop, the terrorist attacks.
All possible causes for the increasing violence and for security breaches will have to be open for analysis in due time: from the surveillance policies to the diplomatic, military and commercial commitments of France and its allies; not forgetting the many crises shaking French society and that fuel the still not well understood phenomenon of radicalisation. A wide debate on these issues must be held with utmost transparency vis-à-vis civil society and citizens themselves, in order to embrace each and every experience and expression.
The stakes are high, for this is about being worthy of our own Republic: “liberté, égalité, fraternité”.