Macron’s police state attack on left opposition

This 18 October 2018 video says about itself:

French Leftist firebrand Jean-Luc Mélenchon has broken new ground on social media by broadcasting a police raid on his political headquarters from his mobile phone.

A furious Mr Mélenchon, head of France Insoumise (France Unbowed), filmed as eight police officers searched the party headquarters early on Tuesday, which he slammed as an attempted “coup de force” against his party “to scare and intimidate us”. He broadcast the raid from his smart phone on Facebook.

Police also searched the headquarters of the Parti de Gauche, a Leftist ally, and Mr Mélenchon’s former assistants.

So, now the French Macron government attempts to silence opposition to it from the left; basing itself on smears of ‘corruption’ made by the neo-fascist National Front (now renamed National Rally) attacking the political left, to divert attention from their own real corruption.

By Alex Lantier in France:

Police raid on Mélenchon: The state attacks the Unsubmissive France party

17 October 2018

Yesterday’s police raids on Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s home and the headquarters of his Unsubmissive France (LFI) party in Paris are a major attack on democratic rights. It is a political operation launched on false pretences against an organization that received the votes of 20 percent of French voters in the 2017 presidential elections. If the first target is Mélenchon, fundamentally its target is rising opposition in the working class to President Emmanuel Macron’s government.

Around 100 police, according to LFI estimates, woke up Mélenchon and searched his apartment and those of his aides, and collected all the data on the computers in the headquarters of LFI and of the Left Party (PG), an allied political party founded by Mélenchon in 2009.

Mélenchon filmed a video of his apartment occupied by police and called on his supporters to protest outside LFI headquarters as it was raided. “I look funny because since 7 a.m. I have been the target of a police raid at my home, at the headquarters of the PG and of LFI. … My entire place is filled with people: please go and tell everyone this is a political act, an act of political aggression.”

Prosecutors reportedly cited two cases to justify the raid: last year’s allegations that Mélenchon paid LFI staff improperly using funds provided for aides to LFI Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), and allegations of corruption in LFI’s campaign finances.

These dubious accusations do not justify the police raid launched on LFI. The first came last year from neo-fascist MEP Sophie Montel, who explained after making it that it was simply “me sticking my tongue out” as revenge for state allegations of corruption in the National Front’s finances. At the time, Mélenchon reacted by threatening to sue on defamation charges, and the story rapidly faded from public attention.

The second comes from various sources … charging LFI with having overpaid services furnished by associates of Mélenchon. Some of these charges, such as those targeting the Médiascop company held by Sophia Chirikou, the head of Mélenchon’s public relations in the presidential elections, have already been thrown out. Mélenchon’s campaign finances have in the meantime been approved by state authorities.

The Parti de l’égalité socialiste (PES) has documented its political differences with … Jean-Luc Mélenchon, a former Socialist Party government minister. But this type of police operation targeting LFI is an attack on democratic rights that threatens everyone, and the PES defends LFI against an assault prepared through de facto collaboration between the police, the far right, and the Macron government.

A political decision was taken to use these allegations as a pretext to carry out searches and seizures at the headquarters of the organization that received the most left-wing votes in 2017. The campaign of Macron and his Republic on the March (LRM) party faces similar accusations, which are now common in French elections, but it naturally has not faced similar police raids.

Above all, even if the courts were legitimately investigating corruption allegations, it would not justify collecting all the electronic data of an organization with approximately 240,000 sympathizers—the overwhelming majority of whom have no connection to these cases. The most serious questions are posed. What data have the security forces collected on LFI sympathizers and voters? And what do they plan to do with the masses of files they have harvested?

These questions have particular urgency, amid the rapid drive to police state rule and the repudiation by the ruling class of all the social and democratic rights won by the European working class in the 20th century, after the Russian revolution and the defeat of fascism. After a decade of deep capitalist crisis since the 2008 Wall Street crash, the bourgeoisie is taking ever more violent measures targeting social opposition.

Macron, widely despised as the “president of the rich”, is seen with contempt in the working class. His attack on rail workers’ and government workers’ wages and conditions, and his plans for historic cuts to pensions, health care and unemployment insurance provoke deep opposition among workers that terrifies the political establishment. It reacts by building a police state to repress opposition to the policy of enriching the financial aristocracy and devoting hundreds of billions of euros to the army—policies being carried out across Europe.

Between 2015 and 2017, France lived under a state of emergency that suspended democratic rights and massively increased police powers to launch raids and impose house arrest without charges. The state of emergency was used as a pretext to launch violent police attacks on mass demonstrations against the Socialist Party’s (PS) draconian, anti-worker labour law.

The unpopularity of Macron, who took two weeks to find ministers to work with him, so he could name his new government after a spate of ministerial resignations, is part of a crisis of rule and a collapse of European democracy. In Italy, a neo-fascist government is threatening mass deportations of refugees. And top German officials, including Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, have come out in support of neo-Nazi riots in Chemnitz, where rioters attacked Jewish businesses. …

Yesterday, at the National Assembly, [Mélenchon] was reduced to asking whether France was still a democratic regime, amid the jeers of conservative and LRM [Macron party] deputies.

The decisive question is to unify and mobilize the working class in an international and revolutionary movement in the defence of democratic and social rights, and opposing war and the militarization of society. This means undertaking a struggle for socialism, making a ruthless break with the nationalism and the ties to the right wing … In the face of the dangers revealed by the attack on LFI, this entails defending the rights of Mélenchon, and of his movement, against the police state.

This 17 October 2018 video says about itself:

French left-wing opposition leader Jean-Luc Melenchon has vehemently denounced his country’s government – during a raid on his party’s premises.

By Alex Lantier in France:

”We are beginning to see the same thing in France”

Refugee who fled Chile’s dictatorship denounces police raids against Unsubmissive France

18 October 2018

World Socialist Web Site reporters attended a demonstration by supporters of Unsubmissive France (LFI) outside the party’s headquarters on Tuesday, called to oppose police raids against the organization that morning. Police seized all the data on computers in the offices of LFI and the Left Party, an allied political party founded by LFI leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon in 2009, and searched Mélenchon’s apartment.

We spoke with Myriam, a Chilean refugee in France who had fled the dictatorship of Augustus Pinochet, and her daughter, Esperanza. Myriam came to sound the alarm, and warned that the raids against LFI recalled the methods used by the Chilean right-wing to terrorize workers prior to Pinochet’s bloody CIA-backed coup d’ état in 1973. “The methods of the right wing are always the same: overturn the law and take advantage of their powers for actions like this.”

“I arrived in 1985 with my two children to escape the dictatorship there”, she said. “We were targeted. I wanted to protect my children, economically as well. We arrived here and my children have grown up, but now we are starting to see the same thing. I’m very afraid.”

Myriam noted the deep anger growing among workers in France against the authoritarian and militarist policies of the government of Emmanuel Macron, which is seeking to tear up workers’ social rights and public services. “You see that all the resources for supporting the poor are being taken away. … They don’t want workers, they want slaves.”

She also said that the class interests supporting the policies of Macron and that which backed Pinochet’s coup were the same. “Pinochet’s coup d’état was supported by the free-market conservatives”, she said. “Chile was the laboratory for their free-market policies. They profited, and the people starved to death.” In France, Myriam said that under former Socialist Party (PS) president Francois Hollande, “they have begun to put an end to the labor code. In Chile there is no longer a labor code.”

Myriam made clear her hostility to Macron, a banker and former advisor to the PS government who could only become president because he wants to place the whole of society at the disposal of the financial elite. “Macron was a zero, the worst of all the candidates, and now look where he is”, she said. “And whom does he serve? He serves the rich, the ultra-rich, and that’s it.”

Myriam warned of the growing neo-fascist danger in the Brazilian presidential elections, where the extreme-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro is on the verge of taking power. She noted that “the methods of Chile in 1973 and those of Brazil today, which we are seeing with the attacks against Lula, are the same”, a reference to the judicial maneuvers that led to the imprisonment of former president Lula de Silva of the Brazilian Workers Party on corruption charges.

Myriam added that with Macron in France, “I see the same processes, slowly at first, because it is France after all. It is not an impoverished South American nation. So, they proceed with more care. But it is the same.”

This 12 July 2017 video says about itself:

France: Mélenchon attends rally against Macron’s proposed labour reforms

Deputy for La France Insoumise and former French presidential candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon spoke to a rally in Paris, on Wednesday, against proposed reforms to the nation’s labour laws.

Adressing the crowd, Melenchon said, “The labour law, that is to say, the particular rights which have been acquired by wage-earners over the course of a century of struggle, all this is being called into question.”

By Alex Lantier in France:

After police raids on LFI, French courts and media denounce Mélenchon

18 October 2018

After the police raids targeting the Unsubmissive France (LFI) movement on the order of the Paris prosecutor, the courts and the media are launching a violent campaign targeting LFI leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon. They are manifestly threatening to ban LFI, an organization that received the votes of 20 percent of the electorate in last year’s presidential elections, or at least to threaten its leaders with substantial legal penalties.

This would mark a major step in the transformation of the police state created in France during 2015–2017 into a tool serving openly to crush political opposition and social anger against the financial aristocracy. Indeed, the manner in which official circles are treating the police raids is a warning as to the profound crisis of French democracy. A police state exists and is rapidly consolidating itself—a situation that poses mortal dangers to the working class.

The state and the media are concentrating on the fact that Mélenchon got angry at police who were searching LFI headquarters and were illegally trying to prevent LFI parliamentarians from entering their party headquarters. The LFI officials had to break down a door guarded by police in order to enter into their offices, and Mélenchon had harsh words for police inside LFI headquarters. Many videos of the confrontation are circulating online.

In one of them, Mélenchon said: “You are not acting as policemen in a democratic state. … You cannot bother us, you cannot push us, you have no right to prevent us from entering into our headquarters, above all because we are not obstructing your searches. But you are acting in a very strange way. You enter, you take all sorts of things, you do not say what they are, you leave and we do not know what you have taken.”

In fact, beyond the personal effects of LFI leaders, police gathered all the data on computers at LFI headquarters. Manuel Bompard, the LFI campaign coordinator, denounced the behavior of the police and of investigators: “I was prevented from attending and observing the administrative procedure, although I am the legal representative of Unsubmissive France, but I was not allowed to attend the operations. … I received no legal document to sign.”

“A policeman grabbed me by the neck, by the arm, pulled me. This policeman’s hierarchy came to him and said: ‘calm down.’ I was roughed up, attacked … What took place is unacceptable”, he added, insisting that he would “launch a lawsuit at the police station for the blows I received.”

Nonetheless, the state and the media, far from critiquing police behavior, rapidly aligned themselves with the police to attack Mélenchon. Yesterday, the courts announced they would launch an investigation into Mélenchon’s behaviour during the police raids. The Paris prosecutor’s office, which first launched the raids, opened an inquiry into charges of “threats or acts of intimidation against the judiciary” and “violence targeting persons who represent the public authority.”

Several police trade unions, close to the far right, demanded a “public apology” from Mélenchon … The Alliance union, historically linked to the neo-fascist National Front, called on the new interior minister, Christophe Castaner, to file a complaint targeting the LFI leader.

In order to maintain at least the false semblance of impartiality despite having launched the trial, Paris prosecutor François Molins then asked the general prosecutor to be allowed to recuse himself from the case, so that the nearest regional court would take charge of it.

The principal French media are launching a wave of denunciations of Mélenchon. This points, above all, to the unlimited deference to the police that predominates in official publications, which are all in agreement on threatening Mélenchon. Libération, Le Monde, L’Obs all published articles hostile to LFI yesterday.

Libération was the most aggressive against LFI, publishing reactionary articles suggesting that Mélenchon’s behavior could justify banning LFI. The daily put on its front page a large picture of Mélenchon with the headline “Is this one step too far?” In its article titled “Police raid on Mélenchon: from unsubmissiveness to obstruction”, it accuses Mélenchon, without any proof of his having tried to block the police searches. Libération threatens: “The leader of Unsubmissive France is posturing as a political martyr, risking illegality.”

Having made this extraordinary threat, Libération then attacks the LFI parliamentarians, giving a free pass to the police: “It’s not nothing, in France, to see elected officials physically oppose policemen who are carrying out a judicial order.”

In its editorial titled “Tactics”, Libération poses as being understanding, admitting that it’s “not surprising” that LFI “is screaming against such a massive police operation. … But if you step back a bit, you have to say that the reaction of the leaders of Unsubmissive France is essentially outrageous and illegitimate.” Declaring that “the judges were only doing their job” in ordering the raid, Libération concludes: “where they went over the red line, it was when deputies of the nation blocked, with numbers and with decibels, a perfectly legitimate judicial inquiry.”

In fact, there is no reason to believe that the judges were only doing their work, or that the judicial inquiry that provided a pretext for the police raids was “perfectly legitimate.” It was recently reported that Prime Minister Edouard Philippe had “auditioned” all the candidates for the position of Paris prosecutor. The journal Les Echos reported that this was an “unprecedented situation” and pointed to these “meetings that Edouard Philippe ‘took credit for’, because he wants ‘to be certain’ that he will be ‘perfectly happy’ with the future prosecutor.”

That is, the prosecutor was carefully selected by the government, which was no doubt forewarned on Tuesday about such a large-scale, impending police sweep on Mélenchon—with 15 police raids carried out by over 100 policemen—before it happened. The attack on Mélenchon and LFI is manifestly political, carried out by the executive even as it is at its lowest point ever in the polls and is desperately trying to strangle all social opposition to its program.

Two weeks after the departure of Interior Minister Gérard Collomb and after several failed attempts to assemble a cabinet, French president Emmanuel Macron finally presented his reworked government on Tuesday. He had pledged to reshuffle the government to give a “second wind” to his programmeme of austerity and militarism, but he presented only modest changes, designed to allow him to pursue his widely hated agenda: here.

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