VITA’s answer to incidents that have occurred in 17 cities when volunteers were launching the new VITA campaign “Keep Your Hands Off My Daddy” to alert and call for action.
On Thursday, November 15, at 1 pm, Alliance VITA peacefully launched its campaign to warn the public and call for action to protest against ART without a father. In accordance with the law, the VITA regional delegations had filed declarations prior to these gatherings in each of the 70 French cities, to lawfully exercise their freedom of speech and their right to protest.
Nonetheless, without filing any prior declaration and thus illegally, counter-demonstrations were organized via social networks, at the very same place where VITA demonstrations took place. Although active police containment and surveillance varied, the counter-demonstrators committed violent acts against both property and individuals by trying to steal or destroy campaign materials, making loud noises and cries to muffle campaign speeches, insulting and even molesting some of the participants. A court complaint will be filed for the incident involving an 8-month old pregnant woman who was slapped.
Present at the peaceful campaign launch at La Défense in Paris, VITA’s General Delegate, Tugdual Derville declares:
“First of all, I want to thank all the volunteers for their pacifist participation and commitment in launching this campaign. In 53 cities, our right to peacefully demonstrate was cordially recognized and received by those passing by. In defiance of the law, small groups of militant protestors in 17 cities tried to intimidate and silence us. I want to acknowledge and honor those participants who have endured screams, insults and even spitting or beating. This violence shows a peculiar way of thinking, dominated by a desire for unlimited power. This is exactly what we are protesting against in ART without a father. In several cities, the police themselves have admitted they were unable to control the violence of these groups. This is not a good sign for democracy. We are far from French President Macron’s promise of a “peaceful debate”! How can we accept that law-abiding citizens are being attacked by those who disrespect the law? Our peaceful tenacity remains unabashed. No one will benefit by giving up in front of pressure groups who want to ban the debate. We hope that all democrats, even those who do not share our convictions, will enthusiastically defend our right to express our opinions. As for VITA, we will not let these groups silent us.”
Faced with these attacks on freedom of speech, Alliance VITA has decided to:
- take legal action wherever violent acts have been committed;
- ask law enforcement officials how citizens’ rights to protest can be guaranteed, since prior filings of these declared gatherings were used against the participants to call for action against them;
- intensify our campaign efforts for “Keep Your Hands Off My Daddy”