France utilizes the police to crush and intimidate protesters

France utilizes the police to crush and intimidate protesters

Kanako Mita and Sawako Utsumi

Modern Tokyo Times

Protests in France over pension reforms continue unabated. Indeed, the situation is turning violent, and videos showing the state apparatus of France attacking passive protesters – are reminiscent of an authoritarian regime.

Naturally, some political forces against the government of France have embedded themselves to cause trouble within the protest movement. Accordingly, shops, cars, the town-hall door in Bordeaux, and so forth have been set alight by far-left and anti-government forces.

However, videos show ordinary protesters being attacked by baton-wielding police officers with horrendous violence. Hence, while the European Union (EU) lauds itself for upholding human rights; one can imagine stern condemnation from EU and G7 nations if this state apparatus violence was enacted by Belarus, China, Cuba, the Russian Federation, Venezuela, and so forth.

France 24 reports,” Fury at President Emmanuel Macron’s decision to bypass parliament on pension reform has sparked days of unrest across the country, reviving scrutiny of police’s heavy-handed tactics and leaving French cities shrouded in tear gas and smoke – with no end in sight to an increasingly bitter standoff.”

President Macron and Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne understand the enormous discontent against altering the pension age. Henceforth, they supported the state institution invoking article 49.3 of the constitution, which enables the ruling elites to bypass a vote on reform measures.

Macron and Borne seek to increase the retirement age from 62 to 64. They argue that the pension increase is essential. Otherwise – they claim – the system will teeter and put enormous strains on the pension system.

The Council of Europe’s human rights commissioner, Dunja Mijatovic, condemned the response of the French government in its use of the state apparatus.

Mijatovic said, “Violent incidents have occurred, some of which have targeted the forces of law and order. But sporadic acts of violence by some demonstrators or other reprehensible acts committed by others during a protest cannot justify excessive use of force by agents of the state.”

She continued, “Nor are such acts sufficient to deprive peaceful demonstrators of their enjoyment of the right to freedom of assembly. It is up to the authorities to allow the actual exercise of these freedoms by protecting peaceful demonstrators and journalists covering these protests against police brutality and against violent individuals acting within or on the sidelines of marches… While a state may be authorized to use force in order, inter alia, to restore order, such use should be a last resort and in strict compliance with the conditions of necessity and proportionality. The primary obligation of every Council of Europe member state is to protect the people under its jurisdiction and their human rights.”

The Guardian reports, “On Thursday, 1.1 million people according to official figures, 3.5 million according to unions, took to the streets across France for a ninth day of protests policed by about 12,000 law and order officers.”

Hundreds of people have been injured by the state apparatus – with protests set to continue.

It is also incumbent on protesters to shun far-left to anarchist groups that seek to penetrate the protests.

After all, they not only do a disservice to genuine protesters alarmed by the lack of transparency by the political elites: but they are also “useful idiots” that enable the security services to crackdown with such force.

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