#JeSuisCharlie : The Ambassador’s speech
Tribute to the victims of the terror attacks in Paris on 7 and 8 January 2015 at the Alliance Française, on 14 January 2015 at 5:45 p.m.
Speech by H.E. Eric de La Moussaye, French Ambassador to Castries
Very often in this place, we have often spoken about human rights, democracy, peace, humanity; this means all the values advocated by the Francophonie
We have, each time, highlighted the lessons we should learn from the tragedies that have struck all of mankind with the two world wars. We also mentioned that what happened then was a lesson for the future.
Today, the tragedy which strikes France, is the violence of war, perhaps even worse because they are defenceless civilians that were cowardly killed, these are people who were killed for their ideas and their beliefs, they are policemen and women, on the front line to protect us all. Therefore, it is all of humanity that is concerned by this tragedy which has touched the deepest values in which we believe, these same values which are the foundation of our civilization.
The tremendous mobilization, around the world, and of course firstly in France, last Sunday (nearly 4 million people marched in Paris and in many cities, unheard of since the liberation of our country in 1944) is in itself a great victory: millions of people of all nationalities, opinions and beliefs, stood together to say NO! NO to terrorism, NO to barbarism, NO to the attack on freedom of the press and to freedom in general! Because that is in fact freedom: of course, all those people who demonstrated for Charlie do not share all the ideals of this newspaper, nor appreciate all its cartoon drawings. But in order that the fundamental rules of democracy and human rights are respected, this means that this freedom is not used to advocate and make an apology for violence, crime and delinquency, all must be allowed. Freedom of expression is not selected. If that were the case, it would open the door to abuse and thus to achieve freedom. As Périclès so well said: “There is no happiness without freedom, nor freedom without courage”.
This is probably also the first time that we are witnessing a reaction of this magnitude with thiose of course of the 11th of September in New York, which indicates that today the whole world finally realizes that there are acts that have no legitimacy, that things will no longer be as before, when, often, silence or just simply “let it be” are worth consent and have as consequence, that the horrors were committed in defiance of all humanity.
Tonight, I would also like to tell you if you permit me to, the emotion that grips me personally. I was indeed extremely fortunate to survive a bomb attack 30 years ago after seeing death in the face. When I understood what was happening, my first reaction was disbelief, because I was not only able to imagine what was going on. My second reaction was fear, fear of what could have happened, especially since I had lost a friend with whom I spoke a minute before the explosion and that he did not have the same chance which I had. And finally, thanks to this ordeal, every day I am grateful to the supreme power (secularism should prevail for an Ambassador of France so I will not specify this term), a supreme power I say, that has given me a second chance at life.
So I can relate very well to the feelings of the families of the 17 martyrs killed in Paris, family and friends whose lives will change forever by this horror. I also understand perfectly the suffering of Dr. Pelloux, a doctor but also a columnist at Charlie, who narrowly escaped death and is still not able to recover. I can tell you how much the messages we send to them from around the world are precious to them. The images we see on television are real: everything that is done, at all levels, is great. We are all CHARLIE!
It is therefore very important to these bereaved families that we are all gathered here tonight in Castries. A big thank you to all, thanks to the staff of the Embassy and the Alliance for their commitment, thank you for the condolences extended during the week to my colleagues at the Embassy, the Alliance Française and myself, thank you for your testimony on the condolence book that we made available: they touch our hearts.
Be assured that tomorrow I will convey everything to Paris so that the families and friends of the victims could be informed.
I now ask everyone to please observe a minute of silence in their memory, which will be immediately followed by a slide show prepared by the Alliance Française in honour of all the victims and for the freedom and the peace in the world.