01 / 1997
« Several political and non-political murders sent Corsica into mourning during the Christmas period of 1994 (a time when families and communities usually join in celebration). Little protest was heard, the authorities appeared paralysed and powerless, and there seemed that little could be done to stem the terror and resignation that threatened to undermine this island society. The increase in tension between the different nationalist factions gripped the whole island, confronted by suicidal regression, falling back on archaic practices such as vendettas and customary law that we thought had been abolished. »
About thirty women then got together at Bastia, deciding to give voice to those « who do not want to suffer the unbearable (…)and call for solidarity capable of stopping this death dealing spiral. » Determined to break the silence, these women wrote a manifesto expressing their revolt against violence and terror and the policy applied by the French government vis-a-vis the Corsican question, inviting the inhabitants to sign the following declaration :
« I reject manipulations and compromises, intimidation and murder as a means of regulating society.
I refuse that the government uses armed groups to determine my future in this country.
I refuse the setting up of a system that excludes the citizen from public life.
I want the application of the law for all and in every area, the unbiased exercise of justice, transparency in the political choices made and the management of public affairs, and I want public and responsible debate for a prosperous, open and democratic Corsican society. »
In just a few weeks, this text was signed by two thousand women « from every political and religious background », and from every social class and origin ». Large demonstrations were to follow and much attention was given by the media. « The road is long but the women backing the manifesto are not discouraged, they have been able to awaken opinion and stay together, make their protests heard (…), and they have been able to protect themselves from the perverse effects caused by the mediatisation surrounding them. They have also met the government’s representatives (including the Prime Minister)without, however, approving a repressive position; and they have rallied the support of local politicians without giving their allegiance. »
This awareness, experienced as an exceptional event, has in turn mobilised local authorities, associations and artists. « In a society still subject to tribal reflexes », the women used the strategy of anonymity, merging in with the population, each of them, speaking in her own name, contributing to the emergence of an awareness among citizens beyond « simple ties »: families, groups, clans. The movement they set in motion wanted to be « free from manipulation by others, non-hierarchical, without delegation or representivity ».
Since 1995, they have worked to create awareness in schools, in districts and public places on the problems of violence; they have organised meetings with people representing the machinery of justice, and organised debates (in 1996, in the framework of the Trans-Mediterranean Festival, with Sicilian women combating the Mafia, Algerian women, union activists, journalists, jurists, etc.).
They attempt by long term work in the field, to contribute towards restoring the right of expression that had been confiscated or forbidden. They know that today they have only taken the first step down a long road.
Today, in Corsica, there are six thousand signatories who « defend the universal values of democracy in a country with obvious singularities and where the need for justice is generally denied by the very people supposed to guarantee it ». They and the women that organized the petition now have to be taken into account.
Written on the basis of the text of « Manifesto for Life » and a presentation text completed by an interview with a woman belonging to the movement who did not want to sign the sheet. The quoted passages are indicated. Contact : Femmes du Manifeste pour la Vie, Madame Desjobert, BP 128 - 20292 Bastia Cedex. France. Original text in French in this data base.
Texto original ; Entrevista ; Manifiesto
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