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Police violence against yellow vests in France under the fire of criticisms

11.03.2019
The Yellow Vest movement, which had its 17th mobilization this weekend, has been facing a wave of unprecedented police violence since the beginning of the protest. On March 6, after four months of demonstrations, the UN called on France to request a judicial inquiry into the acts of violence of its security forces against the protesters.

The official figures present an alarming situation. They report nearly two thousand wounded in the ranks of the protesters. Long before the UN, several associations, unions and organizations said they were indignant at the burrs of the French police against Yellow Vests.  Torn eyes, cranial trauma, rupture of an organ, a completely mopped face among other injuries have become the lot of the Yellow Vest during their demonstrations, as well as beating, bludgeoning, use of tear gas, and explosive grenades; practices denounced by policies and media.

POLICE AND LEGAL REPRESSION

Numerous videos published on the web report bodily injuries sustained by the yellow vests. Among the victims who are not just activists, are unarmed people from every corner of the population; adolescents, women and even the elderly who are beaten by the police. As few media are allowed to share their testimonies, several victims have decided to unite and form collectives on the internet, where they share their story and their hope of seeing the perpetrators of their torment brought to justice. Although the government has often denounced the numerous breaks and looting scenes that have characterized some of the Yellow Vest marches, particularly in Paris, it seems to ignore the treatment inflicted by the police on the strikers.

This attitude is also adopted by the justice system, which saves police officers but has a heavy hand against the protesters. To date, there are no less than 7000 arrests and 1000 convictions for all Yellow Vests. No member of the police has been called to answer for alleged acts of violence in court. In February all the appeals filed by the wounded, unions and national associations were rejected by the Council of State.

For Jean Luc Mélenchon, the leader of France Insoumise, the police and judicial repression that has raged in France since the beginning of the Yellow Vests movement is simply unheard of in the country. To confirm his words, France has not experience such a situation in 60 years. The unfortunate candidate in the last presidential election, judging that through this police and legal repression, it is simply the freedom to demonstrate that is violated by the government.

Although the use of force to put down protesters has been approved, the French police are mostly indexed for the misuse of defensive ball launchers (LBDs), commonly known as flash-ball.

DEBATE AROUND THE USE OF LBD

LBDs are mentioned in the majority of the requests made about the violence against yellow vests. Victims and associations, who denounce their use and have repeatedly asked for their prohibition during marches, have repeatedly met with the categorical refusal of the authorities. Despite the calls of the United Nations and well before it, those of the European Council on the disproportionate use of force by the police during the demonstrations, the head of State does not intend to give up the ballast, as he justifies the use of the Famous Flash Balls with the need for law enforcement to protect themselves against “thugs” who destroy buildings, break windows, break vehicles, and threaten police officers. Rejecting the use of the term “repression” to describe the intervention of the French police, Emmanuel Macron argues that France remains a state of law.

In support of the position of the French Head of State who supports the use of LBDs by the police,

The National Assembly, adopted February 5 the anti-breaker law which provides a series of sanctions and prosecutions against the protesters.

THE ANTI-CRISIS ACT, A CRITICAL TEXT

This text, judged not to be in conformity with the fundamental freedoms, is criticized by about fifty associations that ask for its pure and simple abandonment. The law that is to be re-examined on March 12 in the Senate has not been voted by the opposition. On the side of the deputies of the Republic Marche, she has experienced a record abstention. Its initiators present it as a measure to prevent violence during demonstrations. The sanctions provided for in this text are intended, among other things, to people who want to demonstrate in a discreet manner by concealing their faces. This law also gives the state authorities the right to prohibit demonstrations by anyone who may be a threat to public order, it also provides for the creation of a file targeting people banned from demonstrations. Individuals who oppose this prohibition are liable to 6 months in prison and a payment of 7500 euros. Added to this are bills that may be forced to pay any demonstrator sentenced in case of complaint of degradation of the building.

 

For the many associations and organizations that oppose this law, it simply aims to dissuade people who want to take part in demonstrations and violates the freedom to demonstrate, which a fundamental right is. This is the proof that the French State has difficulty in questioning the burrs of the police.

Despite the appalling police repression and multiple campaigns of discretization they are subject to, the yellow vests continue to manifest every Saturday. Determined to move the lines through their political struggle, they agree with American trade unionist César Chavez who said that when a social change has begun it cannot be reversed … because we cannot oppress a people who is no longer afraid.

Article from AFRIC editorial.

Credit image/google images/Yellow vests

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