France: police attack: protesting worker in coma

This video is called Youth Protests in France.

By Rick Kelly:

France: Police assault leaves protesting worker in coma

22 March 2006

A 39-year-old French telecommunications worker is in a coma as a result of a brutal beating by riot police last Saturday evening.

Cyril Ferez was attacked during the mass demonstration against the Gaullist government’s “First Job Contract” (CPE), which permits companies to sack young workers without cause during the first two years of employment.

More than a million workers and students marched against the measure last Saturday, including 350,000 in Paris.

Ferez was assaulted by the police while demonstrating at the Place de la Nation, the end-point of Saturday’s protest march in Paris.

Ferez, a member of the Sud-PTT union, is in critical condition.

He is at the neurological unit of Paris’s Henri-Mondor de Créteil Hospital, suffering what the hospital described as “severe cranial trauma and intra-cerebral traumatic lesions.”

Union official Bernard Allaire told Reuters, “His situation is worse than alarming.

No one is allowed to see him except his immediate family.”

Witnesses report that the worker sustained the injuries after riot police (gardes-mobiles) charged a section of the demonstration at the Place de la Nation.

They say Ferez was stomped on the head by the police.

Onlookers have also reported that police refused to call for medical assistance, even as the injured man lay prostrate on the ground for 20 minutes.

Other demonstrators appealed to firefighters in the area, who drove Ferez to the hospital.

France in 1968: here.

2 thoughts on “France: police attack: protesting worker in coma

  1. by Jonas Bals
    10 April 2006

    Analysis of the Victory in France

    In last week’s edition of the British magazine The Economist, much attention was paid to the movement in France. The liberalist paper was deeply concerned whether the French ruling class would bow for the street protests and thereby duck «its ‘Thatcher moment’» or not – and thereby escape «the point when the country might have tested the union-led resistance and imposed liberal economics on a fearful public.» Today, it became clear that they have.
    Although it remains to be seen how the French government will try to modify its defeat, the victory is as clear as it can get. But how significant is this victory, however partial it may turn out to be once the ‘social dialogue’ is re-established? The Economist can give us a hint, as they have been among the most important intellectual infantrists in the neo-liberal assault on Europe’s entrenched working classes. Their 1st of April edition, which dealt extensively with the situation in France, included a special report on how ‘France faces the future.’ In an extended editorial, titled after Charles Dicken’s famous account of the French revolution, his novel A tale of two cities, the magazine explains the ongoing turmoil as the result of a divided society. On the one hand, it says, France is future-oriented, business friendly, «dynamic and
    highly trained» – a fact reflected in the soaring profits of the top 40 companies, which rose by 50 % from 2004 to 2005. And on the other: The backward-looking, static and reality-denying part of France, the «1m-3m people that took to the streets» and the thousands of «troublemakers» that have opposed the government’s labour market reforms.

    It is this scared and old-fashioned part of French society that the prime minister, Dominique de Villepin, so desperately wanted to help, The Economist explains. By introducing the law of the first job contract, the CPE, he tried by way of decree «to combat mass unemployment in France, which touches 23 % of young people, and one in two of those living on the rough housing projects.» Strange enough, his generosity was not appreciated by the ungrateful French protestors, who showed a complete lack of concern both for themselves and the suburban proletariat the government claimed it was fighting for. And now, with today’s victory, they have presumably denied the reality principle and fought a reform that would have brought France back on track. The track laid out by the Reagan and Thatcher revolutions of the 80’s, that is, which The Economist promoted with much eager in its time. Not as a result of
    ‘ideology,’ of course, but by their capability to grasp the Real, and understand in what direction the Reason of history was heading.

    But, as The Economist laments, the whole affair in France developed into a «pre-emptive protectionist strike,» which, if it succeeded – as it now indeed has – would undermine «the
    need for France to face up to, and accept, global capitalism.» Only in France’s business schools, which were left untouched by the protests, sit-ins and occupations, could the Prime Minister find a species of students more gifted than the average high-school or university ‘denying conservative’: Only «students at such places, taught the latest in finance and economics, understand the price France will pay if it refuses to change,» The Economist
    complained – in a revolution-ridden country which «has never been properly déMarxisé.»

    Which brings us back to the impact of this victory. With today’s withdrawal of the CPE, France has at least not been ‘de-marxised’ – meaning, if translated from the language of political economy to ordinary English, that the French working class has not been beaten into submission and defeat, as the British miners and printers once were. The movement against the CPE proved that struggle is wortwile – and that the ‘reality’ represented by neo-liberal capitalism can be defeated. But, we should all take care to remember, neither The Economist or the ruling class whose views it expresses, will give up.

    «A war may be neeeded to bring the two [Frances] together, but this is not the right battle,» it warned its readers – because the reforms were not «genuinely radical,» as opposed to the
    «rupture with France’s social model» preached by de Villepin’s colleague and rival for next year’s presidential election, Nicolas Sarkozy. Again, in plain English: Let the next election run its course, and the politicians pretend. Then, when the obligatory lip service has been paid to parliamentary democracy, launch the assault on the workers and students – but fight them
    hard, so they never get back up on their feet! And fight them more intelligently, as the government did last August, when it introduced its CNE-law in the middle of the summer holiday.


    The student-dominated movement that won its victory today, mobilised its forces only against aspects of what is; as such, its impact should not be over-rated by self-confessed revolutionaries. The only way it could have been generalised, would have been from
    the bottom and from without, outside the reach of the bureaucracies of the official unions and student organisations. That, however, was not what was at the agenda. The world that was being fought for, from February to April, was not the ‘another world’ we claim is possible, beyond wage slavery and the state. But it was a fight against the ‘other world’ they try to dictate on us, a world that is always described with the quasi-objective language of political-economic realism – and in this, we succeeded.

    The British miners’ historic defeat has, since 1985, been interpreted as inevitable – and their fight been portrayed as a fight against history and necessity. But they only were in so far as we see their struggle as isolated to the question of coal in the British economy. Not if seen as something more than a desperate defense of their own turf, as an attempt to point beyond what-is, and the logic of capitalist development – towards a world where our choices would be wider than ‘Submission and Slavery, or Unemployment and Despair.’

    Capitalism can’t exist without most of us suffering its consequences. In that respect, there is a certain reality to the opposed interests of French students and the banlieu youth, which the government will continue to try and pit against each other. Common interests doesn’t exist in a capitalist world: It is only when viewed from the point of a different world, that we can speak
    of our interests being mutually dependent, – our interests in having both dignity and safety, freedom and a guarantee that tomorrow won’t be a struggle for survival.

    The main unions in France are now busy finding solutions to the crisis of ‘French society’; a crisis which is both real and experienced as such. What they call ‘professional social security’ is, in large part, inspired by a model commonly referred to as the ‘Danish flexicurity model’ – combining unemployment insurance schemes and a highly flexible, hire-and-fire labour market. This is also the banner under which the EU Commision is drafting its proposals for a ‘more flexible, more competitive Europe.’ All the wrongs and inequalities of this system notwithstanding – myself living in the daily reality of its logic – it is also worth reminding that this system is a result of class struggle and class compromises, not a plan designed from above. It relies on a highly unionised working class, and one of the world’s highest tax levels. Without these factors included, all that would remain is flexibility – not security. And no-one should be convinced that this is a price the ruling class of Europe would be willing to pay for a more elastic work force – never. What they want is the ‘rupture’ Sarkozy has talked of, and which Thatcher once represented. We have won today, but will have to fight them again tomorrow.
    * antiauthoritarian anticapitalist


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