Corsica: clashes in the streets after the aggression of Yvan Colonna, separatist leader

Of Claudio Del Frate

Convicted of murder, the exponent of independence seen as a hero: in a coma after an attempted strangulation by an Islamic terrorist. Tens of thousands in the square in the main cities

Corsica risks becoming a prominent issue in the academic yearpolitical agenda led by Emmanuel Macron in the elections for the presidency of the republic scheduled in less than a month in France. The main cities of the island have been shaken these days by street riots, clashes with the police, dozens of injured and arrests. The gasoline on the never extinguished flame ofCorsican independence been thrown from the affair of Yvan Colonnawho for the French justice a murderer terrorist sentenced to life imprisonment for murder ‘but for the islanders a hero of independence. On March 2, Colonna was the victim of an attack in the Arles prison and the autonomist movements impute them to the French state responsibility for what happened.

The climate so precipitated that Interior Minister Gerard Darmian will arrive in Ajaccio tomorrow: I will remain at least two days to negotiate with the leaders of the protest by proposing a package of measures to address the Corsica issue. The squares of the capital of the island but also of Bastia and Corte (other epicenters of the protest) have greeted with skepticism the news and in the meantime the agitation and demonstrations (albeit less heated) continue.

The assault suffered in prison by Yvan Colonna and the protests that ensued, however, say a lot about attrition to which the relations between Paris and the always restless island have reached. Colonna in prison since 1998 with a life sentence: the court held it responsible for the assassination of the prefect of Ajaccio, Claude Erignac, which took place on February 6 of that same year; but on this side of the sea the prisoner remains above all one of the leaders of separatism. On 2 March, in the prison of Arles, in the south of France, he is attacked by a cellmate, a foreign fighter African returned from Afghanistan and sentenced for terrorism of Islamic origin. The latter Strangles Colonna until he is reduced to a coma; some origin of the brutal assault sentences that the Corsican leader would pronounce against the Prophet.

The news crosses the Mediterranean and is interpreted in a very specific way: the authorities are accused of failing to protect – at best – the safety of Colonna. That was enough to make the anger explode; the first fires broke out in the CourtTuesday to Bastia the most impressive manifestation, with at least 10,000 participants resulted in an attempt to assault on the local court and with 67 injured (44 among the agents). The protests repeated in Ile Rousse, and in other places. French statu assassinu! the slogan that brought together the autonomist front, chanted slogan not by chance in the local language and not in that of the Motherland.

Paris did not take long to take countermeasures. But next to the request for immediately stop the violent demonstrations the offer of dialogue has also arrived, which Minister Darmian has taken on, as said. The executive has heard the requests of the elected officials of Corsica – he said – and we will open a cycle of discussions. The outstretched hand did not relieve the inquetudy. The announcement made by Darmian it does not represent any step forward – cut it short Petr’Antone Tomasi, militant of Free Corsica, interviewed by local media – ministers have met dozens of them in recent years. Do they promise us something exceptional? We will evaluate once the cards are put on the table.

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