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Justice for Nahel: WILPF Condemns Police Brutality

WILPF supports the statement “Death of Nahel: Anger and Dread” from a collective of French activists, artists, political leaders, and others. Below, we have translated to English this powerful statement that sheds light on the alarming frequency of violence and discrimination disproportionately affecting Arab and Black communities in France. Join the call for justice, accountability, and fundamental rights as we strive for a society where peace, equality, and human rights are upheld for all.

Image credit: Jean Soumet-Dutertre
WILPF International Secretariat
13 July 2023

As an organisation dedicated to promoting peace, justice, and women’s rights, the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) supports the statement Mort de Nahel : Colère et effroi (Death of Nahel: Anger and Dread), see translation below, and strongly condemns police brutality in all its forms.

The recent tragic incidents, such as the death of Nahel and Mohamed B, underscore the urgent need to confront the inherent racism within the police force and to dismantle these structures of state violence. These are not isolated events but are part of a larger pattern of violence and discrimination disproportionately affecting Arab and Black communities in France. The list of victims mentioned in the statement highlights the alarming frequency of such cases.

The issue at hand goes beyond individual cases; racialised police violence is a deeply rooted and systemic problem that requires comprehensive action. WILPF recognises the importance of addressing the structural nature of racism within the police and supports the demands outlined in this statement. This includes:

  • Abrogation of Article 435-1;
  • Dismantlement of the General Inspectorate of the National Police (IGPN);
  • An end to the systematic use of pretrial detention and immediate appearances;
  • Full respect for the right to protest.

WILPF urges the French government to listen to the calls for justice, accountability, and the protection of fundamental rights. The transformative demands within this statement will help advance feminist peace by dismantling structures of state violence that lead to systemic oppression and inequality. In solidarity with the collective and all those striving for justice, WILPF is steadfast in its commitment to creating a society where peace, equality, and human rights are upheld for all.

Read below the translated rendition of the statement Mort de Nahel : Colère et effroi for wider understanding and dissemination:

“The images of Nahel’s death, a 17-year-old Franco-Algerian, shot in the heart by a police officer on June 27th, have circulated around the world. On July 6th, Mohamed B was killed by a rubber bullet fired from a defense launcher in Marseille. These two names add to an already too long list of victims of police violence in France in recent years: Alhoussein, Rayana, Adama, Good, Mozomba, Zineb, Aziz, Adam, Jean-Paul, Fadjigi, Amine, Nathalie, Zyed, and many others. The evidence is clear: in France, Arabs and Blacks are dying at the hands of the police.

The novelty is that now you can be rewarded for it. The online fundraising campaign created by Jean Messiha, a figure of the far right, in support of the police officer who shot Nahel, sets a terrible precedent: it is nothing short of promoting a racist murder. The very existence of this campaign, and the staggering sum of 1.6 million euros it has quickly reached, is a symbolic victory for the far right, materialising their ideology through an unprecedented financial mobilisation. This should alert and mobilise all citizens committed to the rule of law. In this toxic atmosphere, millions of us are mourning, angry, and worried about the government’s lack of political response to this terrifying anti-democratic signal. Let us mobilise massively by calling on decision-makers to prohibit the transfer of funds from this campaign.

More broadly, we want to draw attention to the government’s handling of this crisis.

Banning protests, threatening to shut down social media, imposing prison sentences for stealing a can of soda. Blaming video games, the internet, parents, while ignoring the political and structural nature of Nahel’s death and the anger it has sparked. All of this is unworthy of the challenges we face. We demand that the government stop criminalising popular anger and suppressing the legitimate demands of civil society. The current situation calls for government responsibility and immediate responses. Because the problem of racism in our country is much broader, and this crisis is just a symptom of it.

France must come out of denial and heed the warnings of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the Council of Europe.

Therefore, echoing these observations:

  • We demand that the government acknowledge the structural nature of racism within the police.
  • We demand the repeal of Article 435-1, which grants a license to kill to the police.
  • We demand the creation of an independent body to replace the General Inspectorate of the National Police (IGPN) (as already stated by Amal Bentounsi and in the appeal of collectives, associations, trade unions, and political organisations titled “Notre pays est en deuil et en colère”).
  • We demand an immediate end to the systematic use of pretrial detention and immediate appearances, which we have seen in recent days almost always result in custodial sentences. Every arrested and apprehended person must have the right to a fair trial and the support of civil society. The judicial repression they are subjected to is unworthy of a state based on the rule of law and only further breaks the trust between institutions and citizens.
  • Finally, we demand authorisation for the planned demonstration on July 15th. Protesting is one of our fundamental rights, and popular anger cannot be systematically stifled.

As citizens, activists, and actors of civil society, it is urgent to send a strong message of unity and determination to defend democratic values and respect for fundamental rights for all. Justice for all victims of police violence!

See you on Saturday, July 15th, in the streets!

Co-authored by the team mobilised against the “Cagnotte de la honte” (Fund of Shame)*.

SIGN THE TRIBUNE: https://framaforms.org/signer-la-tribune-mort-de-nahel-colere-et-effroi-1688725027

GET INVOLVED: https://cagnottedelahonte.carrd.co

Note: This article was written and signed before the events that took place in Place de la République in Paris on Saturday, July 8th. The writing team shares the deep consternation and concern of the Adama Committee and offers its full support to Youssouf Traoré, who was subjected to a violent – and filmed – arrest by BRAV-M police officers.”

*It is important to highlight that one of WILPF’s dedicated staff members actively contributes to the collective that drafted this statement. This personal connection further strengthens WILPF’s resolve to support the fight against racial injustice and police brutality.

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WILPF International Secretariat, with offices in Geneva and New York, liaises with the International Board and the National Sections and Groups for the implementation of WILPF International Programme, resolutions and policies as adopted by the International Congress. Under the direction of the Secretary-General, the Secretariat also provides support in areas of advocacy, communications, and financial operations.

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Melissa Torres

VICE-PRESIDENT

Prior to being elected Vice-President, Melissa Torres was the WILPF US International Board Member from 2015 to 2018. Melissa joined WILPF in 2011 when she was selected as a Delegate to the Commission on the Status of Women as part of the WILPF US’ Practicum in Advocacy Programme at the United Nations, which she later led. She holds a PhD in Social Work and is a professor and Global Health Scholar at Baylor College of Medicine and research lead at BCM Anti-Human Trafficking Program. Of Mexican descent and a native of the US/Mexico border, Melissa is mostly concerned with the protection of displaced Latinxs in the Americas. Her work includes training, research, and service provision with the American Red Cross, the National Human Trafficking Training and Technical Assistance Centre, and refugee resettlement programs in the U.S. Some of her goals as Vice-President are to highlight intersectionality and increase diversity by fostering inclusive spaces for mentorship and leadership. She also contributes to WILPF’s emerging work on the topic of displacement and migration.

Jamila Afghani

VICE-PRESIDENT

Jamila Afghani is the President of WILPF Afghanistan which she started in 2015. She is also an active member and founder of several organisations including the Noor Educational and Capacity Development Organisation (NECDO). Elected in 2018 as South Asia Regional Representative to WILPF’s International Board, WILPF benefits from Jamila’s work experience in education, migration, gender, including gender-based violence and democratic governance in post-conflict and transitional countries.

Sylvie Jacqueline Ndongmo

PRESIDENT

Sylvie Jacqueline NDONGMO is a human rights and peace leader with over 27 years experience including ten within WILPF. She has a multi-disciplinary background with a track record of multiple socio-economic development projects implemented to improve policies, practices and peace-oriented actions. Sylvie is the founder of WILPF Cameroon and was the Section’s president until 2022. She co-coordinated the African Working Group before her election as Africa Representative to WILPF’s International Board in 2018. A teacher by profession and an African Union Trainer in peace support operations, Sylvie has extensive experience advocating for the political and social rights of women in Africa and worldwide.

WILPF Afghanistan

In response to the takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban and its targeted attacks on civil society members, WILPF Afghanistan issued several statements calling on the international community to stand in solidarity with Afghan people and ensure that their rights be upheld, including access to aid. The Section also published 100 Untold Stories of War and Peace, a compilation of true stories that highlight the effects of war and militarisation on the region. 

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Demilitarisation

WILPF uses feminist analysis to argue that militarisation is a counter-productive and ill-conceived response to establishing security in the world. The more society becomes militarised, the more violence and injustice are likely to grow locally and worldwide.

Sixteen states are believed to have supplied weapons to Afghanistan from 2001 to 2020 with the US supplying 74 % of weapons, followed by Russia. Much of this equipment was left behind by the US military and is being used to inflate Taliban’s arsenal. WILPF is calling for better oversight on arms movement, for compensating affected Afghan people and for an end to all militarised systems.

Militarised masculinity

Mobilising men and boys around feminist peace has been one way of deconstructing and redefining masculinities. WILPF shares a feminist analysis on the links between militarism, masculinities, peace and security. We explore opportunities for strengthening activists’ action to build equal partnerships among women and men for gender equality.

WILPF has been working on challenging the prevailing notion of masculinity based on men’s physical and social superiority to, and dominance of, women in Afghanistan. It recognizes that these notions are not representative of all Afghan men, contrary to the publicly prevailing notion.

Feminist peace​

In WILPF’s view, any process towards establishing peace that has not been partly designed by women remains deficient. Beyond bringing perspectives that encapsulate the views of half of the society and unlike the men only designed processes, women’s true and meaningful participation allows the situation to improve.

In Afghanistan, WILPF has been demanding that women occupy the front seats at the negotiating tables. The experience of the past 20 has shown that women’s presence produces more sustainable solutions when they are empowered and enabled to play a role.

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