Offices of French Communist newspaper l’Humanité ransacked by burglars, triggering emergency appeal
Copies of l’Humanité are distributed at a demonstration in France. | Julien Jaulin / via l’Humanité

In a brazen raid in the middle of the night last week, burglars made off with almost all of the IT equipment used to put out the French Communist daily newspaper l’Humanité. The attack has prompted the editorial staff to issue an emergency appeal for financial solidarity from friends and supporters across France and around the world.

The heist comes at a particularly damaging moment for the nearly 120-year-old publication, as major tech upgrades had just been completed and staff were gearing up for the annual Fête de l’Humanité, a massive cultural festival hosted by the paper.

Overnight on Aug. 16-17, criminals managed to break into the office complex in the Paris suburb of Saint-Denis that houses l’Humanité and a number of other organizations, including the National Union of Railway Workers.

Disguising themselves as workers, complete with uniforms, the bandits reportedly gained entry by breaking a window on the ground floor of the five-story building. l’Humanité occupies two floors.

Fabien Gay, director of l’Humanité. | Demian Letinois Taillant / via l’Humanité

Fabien Gay, the newspaper’s director, estimates that about 50 computers were taken, along with other tools, like video production and teleconferencing equipment, as well as several cell phones. Most of the stolen tech goods were brand new, as the newspaper recently underwent major upgrades in preparation for the launch of a new digital platform and application.

In defiance of the thieves, though, the paper still hit the newsstands the very next morning, not missing a single day of publication. Older equipment and teams at other bureaus ensured publishing continuity.

“There is no impact on the circulation of the newspaper,” Gay declared. In addition to serving as the head of l’Humanité, he is also a member of the Senate for the French Communist Party (PCF), representing the district of Seine-Saint-Denis.

Fabien Roussel, the national secretary of the PCF, denounced the burglary as “a major attack on the work of the press and, beyond that, on our democracy.” He extended his “full support to the journalists and workers” at l’Humanité.

The paper has been linked to the PCF since the party was founded in 1920 and bills itself as a tribune and platform for the broad democratic, labor, and people’s movements throughout France. Its daily circulation is approximately 100,000.

To help the paper cope with the losses resulting from the burglary, an emergency fundraising campaign has been launched—Solidarité avec l’Humanité / Solidarity with l’Humanité. The adjudication of insurance claims is expected to take months or even years, but the paper cannot wait for that; it must replace the lost equipment now.

According to Gay, the newspaper was already “experiencing cash flow difficulties,” which had motivated an earlier fundraising campaign, so the attack on the editorial offices comes as a further blow. Rousseau, PCF leader, called for “the broadest financial solidarity with the newspaper.”

“We are appealing to your generosity,” Gay said. “Every gesture, even modest, will help us to quickly replace the stolen equipment.” Recalling that friends from around the world have supported the paper ever since it was founded in 1904, he expressed confidence that l’Humanité—“the common property of all social movements and progressives”—could once again count on international solidarity when it’s needed most.


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C.J. Atkins
C.J. Atkins

C.J. Atkins is the managing editor at People's World. He holds a Ph.D. in political science from York University in Toronto and has a research and teaching background in political economy and the politics and ideas of the American left.