NEWS FROM THE CELTIC LEAGUE
The visit to Mann of a strong French media group from both TV and print media ahead of the Inter Celtic festival in Lorient seems to indicate that at least superficially France is more at ease with its minority cultures. Although unlike the other large Celtic countries which have TV language stations such as TG4, S4C and BBC Alba the TV presence sent from Brittany to Mann was provided by TR3 as Brittany still has no dedicated TV language channel
Recently there were positive ‘noises’ from the French about giving effect to the ‘European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages (ECRML)’.
It remains to be seen if this turns out to be another false dawn for Breton cultural aspirations as in the past the French have been violently oppressive towards minority languages. Nowhere was this more apparent than in, of all places, Lorient at the time of the festival in 1989.
Two Bretons were at that time prisoners accused of nationalist activism (they were not involved in acts of violence) and held at a prison in Paris . Gilbet Cabon, and Jean Yves Meudeg, refused when arraigned before the examining magistrate to speak any language other than Breton and the magistrate would not accept this.
Subsequently throughout that summer demonstrations supporting their stance took place at festivals at Kemper, Douarnenez and Lesneven all passed of peacefully.
However when several hundred demonstrators tried to stage a similar protest in Lorient they were set upon by police and brutally beaten. The injuries to one demonstrator Klaod an Duigou were quite severe and a graphic picture of his injuries appeared in CARN 68 – another man had several ribs broken. Later during the festival Bretons, Basques, Galicians and Asturians staged another protest at the police violence, this passed of peacefully although some Bretons remarked ruefully that their ‘Celtic cousins’ present for the festival that year had been absent from the demonstration.
Later in the year Meudeg was released but Cabon served a much longer term for refusing to surrender his right to use his languge – his ongoing case being reported in CARN 70 nine months later. Even at the trial several Breton witnesses, including the internationally renowned Breton musician Alan Stivell, had their evidence rejected because they spoke in Breton.
Perhaps things are different now in Brittany and the government of Francois Hollande will keep its promise on delivering on the ECRML. We will see!
J B Moffatt (Mr)
Director of Information
(Please note that replies to correspondence received by the League and posted on CL News are usually scanned hard copies. Obviously every effort is made to ensure the scanning process is accurate but sometimes errors do occur.)
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