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Greenpeace activists invade National Assembly debate on Copenhagen

Text by FRANCE 24 (with wires)

Latest update : 2009-12-03

Greenpeace activists abseiled from the gallery of the National Assembly on Wednesday to disrupt a debate on France's official position ahead of the Copenhagen climate summit, causing chaos and consternation among parliamentarians.

Greenpeace activists gate-crashed a debate on the Copenhagen summit in the French National Assembly (the French parliament’s lower chamber) Wednesday, waving banners and chanting from the guest galleries above. The activist even succeeded in entering the semi-circle below where parliamentarians sit, by abseiling down with a makeshift cord.

Their intrusion caused a huge raucous in the assembly, with protesters being applauded by Green party MPs Noël Mamère and Yves Cochet. Right wing politicians responded by heckling Mamère and Cochet with shouts of “thugs, fascists!”

The session was briefly interrupted and the protesters evicted, but the damage was done: no attention whatsoever was paid to the rest of the very dry and technical debate. The show moved outside, with banks of journalists and camera crews jostling to get the real story of the day.

Center-right MP and former French Judo champion David Douillet told reporters that the intrusion was a, “violation of democracy.” Douillet’s fellow right wingers demanded sanctions against Mamère and Cochet, alleging that the two Green Party members conspired to help the Greenpeace activists gain access to the chamber to stir up trouble during the debate.

Left-leaning MPs also expressed annoyance at Greenpeace’s intrusion. “What they did was unacceptable”, said Socialist MP Jean-Marc Ayrault, visibly discomfited. “They are defending a noble cause, but their action today was counter-productive: they interrupted a useful and important debate. It’s really shocking”, he added.

Date created : 2009-12-02

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