Many still believe him innocent of the murder of the prefect Érignac, for which he had been sentenced to life imprisonment before being killed by an Islamist prisoner, far from his island. At the request of the Colonna family, we meet in peace. Faces closed, anger suppressed. Find, in our n°3804 on newsstands this Thursday, March 31, our story.
In memory of Yvan Colonna, the shutters of the village of Cargèse close one by one. And businesses are lowering the curtain. Time seems frozen. On the road that leads to this village of 1,300 inhabitants, cradle of the Colonna family, many tags “Gloria à tè Yvan”, (Glory to you Yvan), and stencils with his effigy flourish. Yvan Colonna is everywhere. Local elected officials, residents, nationalist activists… There were several thousand people to bid farewell to the child of the country. Shortly after 2 p.m., the funeral procession headed for the family home.
To read : Yvan Colonna, victim of a madman of Allah
The coffin covered with the Corsican flag, carried by his relatives, sinks into the colorful streets of Cargèse. It will stop for a few minutes in front of the Colonna house, a large beige building with blue shutters, before reaching the Latin Church. In three weeks, Yvan Colonna has become a symbol of detestation of the French state. “He has always denied the facts, protests an activist. He criticized the French governmental and judicial authorities for having violated his right to the presumption of innocence throughout the investigation and the judgment. Here the doubt did not benefit the accused.” His aggression in the prison of Arles, on March 2, transformed him into a martyr for part of the population. Still, a majority of islanders recognize the fault of having killed a representative of the state. “We are not proud of what happened, they insist. And to add, let’s not forget that, revolted by the crime, we were tens of thousands of people to take to the streets in 1998. But today, we have the feeling of not being understood.
In videos: The funeral of Yvan Colonna in Corsica
No military tribute, according to the decision of the father of Yvan Colonna
On this first Friday of spring, the day of the funeral of the “shepherd of Cargèse”, Corsican banners line the windows of shops and restaurants. Some have draped themselves in it. Above the house that houses the tobacco press, a banner is hoisted at the window: “Statu Francese assassinu”, (French State assassin), can we read. “We would not be there, burying a child from the village, believes an activist, if justice had agreed to transfer Yvan to Borgo prison, in Haute-Corse.” At the exit of the church, no military tribute, contrary to local tradition when an activist dies. No shots in the air by hooded men. FLNC activists respected the decision of ex-MP Jean-Hugues Colonna, Yvan’s father.
On the Isle of Beauty, activity has been suspended in certain sectors. Associations of nationalist activists had called for a day “isula morta” (dead island), in tribute to the nationalist activist. The Collectivity of Corsica thus indicated in an e-mail that “staff wishing to go to gathering places to take communion or to the funeral, in order to provide their support following the death of Mr. Yvan Colonna, will be granted the possibility of asking a exceptional leave on Friday 25 March afternoon. A decision strongly contested by a territorial official. “It’s incredible that we can be given an afternoon for this kind of situation, she accuses. Our job has nothing to do with any of that. We are civil servants and we must have continuity of public service. Those who wanted it only had to ask for a day.
Interview: Simon-Paulu Ferrandi: “No argument can justify the continued detention of Alain Ferrandi”
The fear of the return of blue nights
In rue Fesch, in Ajaccio, traders are questioning themselves. The economy has been down for three weeks. “The protests of the past few days are really not helping us. Today the cash drawer remained closed. People no longer go to town, explains a disappointed tradeswoman. Who will help me pay the suppliers at the end of the month?” Added to the fear of unpaid bills is that of reprisals. “When I see the violence of some young people – what are their parents doing? – I don’t want to see my window being smashed up during the next demonstrations. When in doubt, I prefer to close in the afternoon. This fear of what will be said has pushed the majority of traders to make the same decision.
Anger against the government swells on the island. Although most of the population wants autonomy, many believe that they have made a mistake by giving in to violence. “They managed in 15 days of riots to obtain what we have been asking for for so many years. What will happen next? They certainly won’t stop there.” The island is for the time being suspended in internal dissension. Many residents fear the return of the blue nights: a series of bombings, most of the time targeting second homes. “Then we must not confuse everything, except for the most radical, we are not asking for independence. We wish to remain within the Republic. We are just asking for more power through extensive decentralization.”
During the last regional elections, the Corsicans voted massively for the autonomists and less massively for independence. According to INSEE, 18.5% of islanders live in a household with an income below the poverty line. Under these conditions, it is therefore difficult for them to conceive of their independence.
Find, in our n°3804 on newsstands this Thursday, March 31, our story.