venerdì 30 marzo 2012
INTERVIEW WITH IMPRISONED ACTION DIRECTE MILITANT JEAN MARC ROUILLAN
Jean-Marc Rouillan is a prisoner in
France who is serving time for involvement
in Action Direte, a militant group
behind a series of high-profile assassinations
and attacks in France in the
1980s. He and other members of AD;
Nathalie Menigon, Joëlle Aubron and
Georges Cipriani, were handed life
sentences in 1989 for the murder of the
former head of the French car giant
Renault, and in 1994 for five other
terrorist attacks in the 1980s. Aubron
was freed from jail in June 2004 for
health reasons, and has recently died.
Action Directe was a leftist militant group
that attacked symbols of the French state in
a similar way to the RAF in Germany, with
which it had links. Before it was finally
crushed in 1989 after the arrest of its core, it
was thought to have been behind as many as
80 attacks, some of them murders.
I am going to ask a few details, direct responses.
How old are you?
- 53 years old on the next 30th of
: Since when have you been detained?
: How long have you been in Lannemezan
- I did a first period from 1994 to
2000, and I am back since the evacuation from
Arles, 7 month ago.
: In which quarter are you staying?
- I stay in Building A, standard quarter.
: Have you been put in isolation in
- No, never.
: Currently, how do you fill your days?
- In the morning, I work, I
write. I wake up very early. At 10
O’clock, I come down to the phone. The
rest of the day I practice sport and I read.
: Today what do you think about the
coming examination of your request by
- I don’t have any illusion about
the system. I think that the political
decision to free us hasn’t been taken, so
no judge will go against the will of the
power, so I go there with no illusions.
: How is your health?
- Normally, perfect.
: What does this mean, “Normally,
perfect”? You have recently had a check
- For one year, the doctors
thought I had lung cancer, and eventually,
check up after check up, the
situation stabilised itself. Then, they
expressed a totally opposite view.
: So, now you are considered…
- treated for nothing at all, so
normally, my health is perfect.
: Since when are you able to request for
a release on parole?
- Since the 26th of February, I
have been parole-able, as we say in jail.
: Is it the first time you request it?
- It is the first time. It has been
delayed to the extreme limit: the request
for a release on parole must be considered
within 6 months. I have requested
on the 28th of February. The other ones
have already been considered, and
: When you say “the other ones” you
mean other inmates?
- The other inmates Nathalie
Menigon and Georges Cipriani who
were arrested at the same time as me.
Their requests have already been
considered, and answered.
- They are today in the Courts of
: What are the conditions for your liberation?
- A home and a job.
: And do you have both?
- Yes. Normally, without accident or an
explicit will to refuse without examining my
situation, the next commission will defer the
examination of my file, since no investigation has
been performed about the workplace.
: So, it is not done according to the rules.
-In fact, at the moment, if they follow
the normal procedure, they will defer.
: Mr. M was telling me that they first gave a date
that then was deferred to September and then
changed back to July…
- At first it was scheduled for the 18th
of July, but the 18th was a normal commission
for small sentences. So with the agreement of
the lawyers, it was deferred to September.
Eventually, faced with the 6 month deadline,
they didn’t want to make an exception, they had
to consider the request, or at least bring the file
to the court.
: Today, what makes you think that the request is
not considered properly?
- The only fact is that Nathalie
Menigon who was very sick like George Cipriani
has been answered negatively on the grounds of
: What are these political considerations?
- Disavowal of our political involvement.
See the text that I sent to Marseille for
the support meeting of the 18th of July*. Since
the courts have stressed political reasons for the
denial, then it is a collective answer for everyone.
We can’t imagine how the answer would be
positive for some of us and negative for others.
The three of us are still considered on the same
: So you think it is definitely a conscious attitude
from the courts. How do you explain that this
taboo still exists?
- I think that nowadays the taboo is
regaining strength. What we could say two
years ago about our cases, e.g. that we were
waiting for the end of our “security period”,
etc… etc… is now much more difficult to
express. Today, we can clearly state that they
have revived the political dialogue we had at
the beginning of our detention, i.e. freedom
in exchange of an official disavowal with
publicity, which means us expressing to the
revolutionary movement that all forms of
struggle, like the ones we used, are useless
and even dangerous.
: And for you, this is out of question.
- This is out of question…
- Because we think that the
communist position is still valid. Armed
struggle has to be done in objective conditions.
Maybe these conditions are not here
anymore. I have been disconnected, in prison
for almost two decades, so I won’t say that the
conditions are met now; that we have to take
arms, no. However, what we did seems to be
: So, There is no disavowal, this famous
repentance that they demand?
: So what is your stance towards what
happened? You do not disavow it, but with
some distance, how do you see it?
- One has to speak with some
distance. History changed a lot. We were
fighting at a time when there existed the
Soviet Union, the Berlin wall, at a time when
the confrontation was totally different from
today. It is obvious. Indeed, in order to
strengthen their blackmail, the “courts of
implementation of the sentence” tell that
Action Directe still exists, but it is total
craziness. They mix it up with the support
movement. The organisation Action Directe
hasn’t existed for at least 16 years.
: What are your views on the current
terrorist attacks? Do you consider yourself as
having committed terrorist attacks and what
difference do you see between what you did
and what is currently happening?
-There is a fundamental difference:
we never committed any massacre-type
attack. Our targets were always chosen
beforehand. We always attacked people
in charge, powerful people in their
field. We never touched any civilian.
Despite all our bomb attacks, and there
were many; there never was any dead
or wounded civilian. The only civil
complainants we had in court were
wounded policeman or the families of
General Audran and Mr. Besse**.
: The actual targets.
-So this is a fundamental
: About your motivations as well,
because your approach was very, very
politicised. Currently we are in a
purely religious terrorism, which has
nothing to do with what you were
- We indeed don’t have anything to do
with religious organisations. The only
problem is that today the American and
English imperialist forces are aggressive
against the Arab world, and thus they
reap the fruits of their policy.
: Is this how you read it?
-Yes, yes, and so does
the mayor of London!
: So you don’t believe that you will get
- It will be deferred or
denied. I will appeal. I will go to the
court of appeal in Pau and then there
will be 18 months and our request will
be considered again by a commission.
The examination of our next request
of release on parole will happen exactly
during the 2007 French elections.
: A time of changes…
- So, obviously we
will defer our
requests because they
are political and we
don’t want them to be
: What do you imagine
after you get out? Do
you sometimes think
- When you have spent 20 years in
jail, in a time that has completely stopped… I
think I will be faced with a situation in which I
don’t know the rhythm at all.
: Do you think you will get back to activism…
or maybe have you never stopped?
- I never stopped…
: So you absolutely keep on your struggle…
-I am still a communist activist. I
think I will remain so.
: Is violence still something you can put
- Personally, my health is good, but
for my two sick comrades, it was already a
definitely obsolete perspective. The problem is
that they use against us the fact that in 1981
when they discharged us (from prison) we
started again. We didn’t start again, we have
always done it. At that time, when we got out,
there was our organisation with dozens of
clandestine people. When we found ourselves
outside, we very naturally took back our place
in the struggle. What is happening today is that
the situation has completely changed, our
organisation doesn’t exist anymore, and there
is no armed communist organisation anymore.
It would be pure voluntarism to do anything
in that direction.
: What arguments do you plan to tell the
- Absolutely none.
: You let your lawyer speak!
-No, not even that. We will listen to
what they have to say. I make Mr. Etelin my
lawyer out of respect for the court that has
never, until now been aggressive towards me.
However I won’t give any explanation,
because I gave the home and the job details,
which is what is required from prisoners who
request release on parole.
: Does you behaviour inside the jail plays
- No, no, nothing inside can
interfere with a release.
: Do you plan to live in Auch if you get out?
- Of course.
: At your mum’s place?
- This the town I was born in, I grew
up there. I still have roots in this town.
: You expect to stay for a while. Do you have a
hope to get out within the next few months?
- Definitely not. After they deny the
release, we can’t request a release before 18
months, so it adds up to at least two more years of
: That makes it very long, do you thing about a
- I think that French authorities are
strongly attracted by the American justice.
: What do you mean? I didn’t understand.
- By reforming laws like the pleadingguilty
one, etc… one can see it also in jail. There
is a temptation to make it happen for some
prisoners, without telling it.
: This famous life-sentence?
-The real life sentence
: As a matter of fact, the timing of your request is
not very good, because Sarkozy*** just relaunched
the debate about release on parole. We
are in the middle of a period of terror attacks…
- We are not recidivists. None of us has
ever been convicted before by a criminal court.
: Do you think this debate will play against you?
- Yes, yes, everything plays against us,
there very few positive things. Although the
prisoners who struggled with us in Belgium are
free, In Germany almost all of them are free, the
three last ones should be freed this year. In Italy,
the big majority of the comrades arrested there
are now free. We sometimes get into brusque
situations: For example, the perpetrator of the
deeds for which Regis Schleicher is jailed for
complicity was liberated 6 years ago whilst he, the
accomplice, is still in jail.
: Why do you say that over the past few months
we came to a situation that plays against your
liberation? How do you explain it?
- Because we personalise a struggle that
became an agreement between a far left who
gave up its goals and a power that became
extremely tougher. We are symbols. It is as clear
as that, and in the same time we are these sorts of
beasts… A bit like the Roman Empire showed up
its defeated opponents. They put a ring through
our nose at the end of a chain, and they make us
turn a little in front of cameras, saying: “Look
how tough they are, look how ferocious they
: Indeed, the image is very powerful. I
have finished. Do you want to add
- No, no, but you will find in
our texts some answers to this last
Jean-Marc Rouillan 1829,
204 rue des saligues BP 166 65300
**Both were killed in Action Directe
operations, Besse was the CEO of Fiat,
and Audran was a French miltary general.
***French Interior Minister.
Extract from Anarchist Magazine 325 - n. 3 june 2006.