Three members of French far-right group Generation Identitaire ‘Generation Identity’ were sentenced to six months in prison on Thursday for using helicopters to intercept migrants crossing the border from Italy.
A court in southeastern France on Thursday sentenced the president of the far-right anti-migrant group Generation Identity, its spokesman and a third person to six months in prison for a spectacle-like expedition in the Alps to stop migrants.
Generation Identity president Clement Gandelin, spokesman Romain Espino and Damien Lefevre, who helped organize last-year’s expedition also were deprived of their civic rights, notably not being able to vote in elections, for five years.
The sentences are a huge blow to the identitarian group known for high-profile stunts to promote its anti-migrant and anti-Islam agenda, which has spread across Europe in recent years. Anti-racism activists and the French government have said they want to get Generation Identity banned.
The sentence matches the recommendation of the prosecutor. The court handed a fine of 75,000 euros ($83,000) to Generation Identity, in line with the prosecutor’s demand.
It had rented two helicopters, a plane and patrol vehicles tagged with the slogan “Defend Europe” to hunt migrants crossing the Alps in April 2018. It claimed to have handed over four migrants to authorities.
The defendants were prosecuted for “activities carried out under conditions likely to create confusion in the minds of the public with the exercise of a public function”.
Clément Gandelin (known as Galant), 24, president of Génération Identitaire, Romain Espino, 26, organiser and spokesman, and former organiser Damien Lefèvre (known as Rieu), 29, were also fined €2,000 each.
The court said the sentence reflected the “extremely serious nature” of the offence, the scale of the “disturbance of public order” and the defendants’ criminal record.
Pierre-Vincent Lambert, the lawyer for the defendants, said they would appeal the decision.
Generation Identitaire mounted a vast operation at Col de l’Échelle, a crossing point for many migrants in the Hautes-Alpes, on April 21, 2018, in which about a hundred volunteers activists dressed in blue jackets created a “symbolic border” in the snow and announced the interceptions of migrants.
Generation Identity is a racist movement that calls for ‘ethnopluralism’, which in practice means separating and segregating people along racial lines.
The international Identitarian movement started in France with the launch of Génération Identitaire (Generation Identity, or GI), the youth wing of the far-right Bloc Identitaire. It has since spread across the continent with affiliated groups, the most prominent of which in addition to France are based in Germany, Italy and Austria.
In the summer of 2017 leading Identitarians from across Europe came together to launch Defend Europe, a mission to hamper the work of NGOs saving the lives of refugees crossing the Mediterranean. The project raised over €200,000, primarily from American far-right activists, enabling them to rent a ship.
Due to the work of HOPE not hate and others, the mission was dogged by setbacks and mishaps and ultimately failed in terms of its original stated objectives. However, it did serve to raise the profile of Generation Identity which it has subsequently used to expand further across Europe. This includes launching a new branch here in the UK.
WHAT DO THEY BELIEVE?
In essence the movement is a reaction against the ‘68ers and their perceived left-liberal dominance of society. One of the movement’s key activists, Markus Willinger, rails in a foundational text for GI against political elites who ‘disgust us’.
Martin Sellner, de facto spokesperson for the movement, talks of the need to preserve “ethno cultural identity” which extends back to an ancient European heritage (“30,000 years” according to Sellner) that not only includes their cultural heritage but also their biological heritage. Read more at Hope not hate
According to the Guardian: Anti-racist groups have been trying to infiltrate the Identitarian movement’s British branch for years without success – until now. Earlier this year Mike began posting Facebook messages expressing outrage over “the great replacement” – the conspiracy theory that claims white people are being wiped out through mass migration. Soon after, following the Christchurch massacre in New Zealand by an Identitarian supporter in March, members of the group invited him to join.
The independent claims Two alleged far-right extremists were able to join the royal navy in spite of their white nationalist views, it has been claimed.
The men are accused of being active in the UK branch of Generation Identity, a pan-European group which spreads a conspiracy theory that motivated the alleged Christchurch mosque attacker in New Zealand.
An undercover informant for the campaign group Hope Not Hate claimed the men had served together in Plymouth and one was to become a sonar engineer on a nuclear submarine.