Breton still figures among severely endangered languages in the Unesco Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger, and yet, this language is an important matter for more of 80 % of the Breton people. Confronted with the inertness of public authorities, for many years citizens have had to campaign on their own for the survival of the Breton language, through education, through the media or simply through its presence within the public space. It is the course of action that the collective Ai’ta! has adopted for ten years, systematically using non-violence to raise awareness about the importance of taking action for the Breton language.
After many unsuccessful requests for interviews with the Dean of the University of Southern Brittany (UBS), symbolical action had been taken in front of the UBS’s stand at the 2015 edition of the Lorient Interceltic Festival. Our purpose was to demand the creation of a real Breton course in the university, so as to meet, between other things, the needs for locally-trained primary school teachers.
French-only signs which had newly been put up on Tohannig campus in Vannes had then been piled up in front of the UBS’s stand. The university had reacted by filing a complaint for theft. A member of Ai’ta! Had then been summoned to the police station to have his DNA and fingerprints taken. They were also given a notice for a trial on February 23 at the crown court of Vannes.
A few days later, the collective Ai’ta! had met Jean Peeters, Dean of the UBS, Paul Molac, Morbihan MP and Ronan Le Louarn, director of the languages of Brittany department at the regional council. During that meeting, the dean had committed to withdraw his complaint. Promises were also made regarding the creation of a Breton teacher position within the UBS and the progressive installation of Breton-French bilingual signs on Lorient and Vannes campuses.
Everyone can thus observe the results of the members of Ai’ta!’s campaigning. The trial will yet still happen in Vannes, during which an activist of the Breton language risks a correctional sentence. We deplore the nonsense of a judiciary authority which has set itself against those who, out of necessity, take action for the common good which the preservation of the Breton language constitutes.
The activist will be defended by the lawyer of Nantes Yann Choucq specialist from the rights of national minorities in Europe.
Paul Molac, Morbihan MP, Lena Louarn, vice-president in charge of the Breton language at the regional council and Jean-Michel Le Boulanger, vice-president in charge of cultural affairs and communication will be present to support the activist.
Meeting: Tuesday, February 23rd 2016; 4.45 PM at Vannes crown court (tribunal de grande instance)
A press meeting will occur after the trial.