French hospital workers strike against Macron’s austerity

This 11 June 2019 video is called Pushed to ‘breaking point’: French ER workers go on strike.

By Anthony Torres in France:

French hospital workers strike against Macron’s health cuts

15 June 2019

While the Senate adopted the 2022 health bill on Tuesday, hospital strikes against the deterioration of the health system that began in March in Paris are now spreading throughout France.

Health Minister Agnès Buzyn and President Emmanuel Macron have turned down all the demands of hospital staff despite rising anger among workers. Already, Macron has refused to make any concessions to demands of “yellow vest” protesters that he put an end to his policy of austerity and war. He reacted by launching riot police against the “yellow vests”, leading to mass arrests of thousands of protesters, dozens of whom have been mutilated by the cops.

On Monday on the set of the BFM-TV news channel, faced with demands for an increase in staff and salaries, Buzyn dismissed out of hand “the idea of a new salary increase for carers”. She bluntly said, “But when the concern is purely about wages whereas it is the entire system that doesn’t work … honestly, the problems won’t be solved just because I pay you more.”

Despite €400 million investments to create medical assistant positions and finance rural or territorial health care, the 2022 health project plans to cut €3.8 billion from health budgets. There is rising anger and concern among hospital staff, who fear a drastic deterioration in working conditions.

Hospital staff began striking in Paris in March, and these strikes have now spread to 95 emergency wards across France. Demonstrations are planned in Paris and in the provinces.

Faced with rising anger in the hospitals, the trade unions have called strikes to protest against the lack of resources at the University Hospital of Bordeaux, as well as of Libourne, Agen-Nérac and Pau. All hospital staff in the neurological and cardiological services at Albi are also on strike to demand “a better quality of care and acceptable working conditions.”

Staff at Lariboisière Hospital, in the 10th arrondissement of Paris, mounted a sickout in the night from Monday to Tuesday.

Terrified by this growing movement, the Macron government deployed police-state measures against hospital workers, with requisitions issued by the gendarmerie to deprive staff of their constitutionally protected right to strike and require a return to work. In the emergency room of Lons-le-Saunier, health workers were requisitioned by order of the police prefect. The authoritarian methods first used against “yellow vests” are being deployed against all workers in struggle.

WSWS reporters spoke to Fanny and Chloé, nurses at Saint Louis Hospital in Paris, who denounced the lack of beds and staff when there are more and more people who need them. “Before, people arrived at the hospital, and we had beds for them in separate rooms,” one said.

Chloé added: “Over the past year, a year and a half, that has changed. There are no more beds, they’re full. People sleep on stretchers in the emergency corridor all night long.”

Fanny pointed out that three or four years ago there was one caregiver for every 10 people, but now it’s one for every 14. “The problem is money. There is money, but it’s the politicians who decide what to do and we the people, we have no power to decide. We don’t feel anyone listens to us at all. Our work is not recognized in fact, but it is essential for the population. Our salary has not changed since 2010.”

Fanny told the WSWS that they can earn almost €1,700 a month, but have to work on several public holidays and weekends. She compared the deterioration in the working conditions and living standards for hospital staff to that of other civil servants: “My sister is a teacher. They always cut classes and there are more children in the classes. It’s like us, because they’re closing down the services.”

The WSWS also spoke to Maryline, who works as a doctor in Nancy. She said that ruling circles “do not want to invest in hospitals. … They are happy that public hospitals are deteriorating and that there are more private clinics, and that only those who can afford them can go to private clinics.”

She added, “There is now a crisis in the hospital system. They offer doctors 1,500 euros for 24 hours of work if they come to regions where there is a shortage of doctors. If someone doesn’t come to work, there’s a problem. But many employees have health problems, and in some services there are working conditions that are difficult, and people do not stay. Nurses are paid only 1,300 euros per month, but they have many responsibilities. We need more nurses and more caregivers. We can’t treat people like this anymore. When people wait, their health deteriorates.”

Fanny explained that there is plenty of money, but the Macron government and its predecessors are setting out to destroy social rights established by previous generations of workers struggles, looting the education and health system to extract more money from them. For the first time in 18 years, the Social Security system is running a surplus. This is due to the gutting of retirement pensions and family benefits in 2019 and 2020.

The policy adopted by the Macron government in its “social dialogue” with the union bureaucracies is deeply regressive. These austerity cuts in healthcare and the surpluses generated are used to finance Macron’s tax cuts for the rich and to finance the massive military spending increases, so that France and the EU can wage neocolonial wars in Africa and the Middle East.

The creation of a public health service that meets the needs of the masses requires a broader struggle of hospital staff, mobilizing together with other sections of workers in France and internationally. To this end, workers must create their own organizations of struggle … to defend social rights and lead a political fight against war and the police-state preparations.

The strike by French hospital workers against the Macron administration’s healthcare legislation, which came into force in March, is spreading throughout the country. Of the 478 emergency services in the country, 216 are now involved in the movement that began in March and involved 80 hospitals by June: here.

This month, many sections of workers will take strike action against the drastic cuts to pensions and the police state policies of French President Emmanuel Macron. Mass transit, hospital workers, the public service, electricity workers and rail workers are all preparing strikes amid widespread anger among workers and youth: here.

TOMORROW, June 16th, everyone is being mobilised (striking) for health, the CGT French union federation has declared. Health, medico-social, social, nursing homes and national education personnel will be mobilised to demand substantial resources for good working conditions, thus ensuring a quality public service for all users and patients: here.

French Macron helps Libyan anti-refugee armed gangs

This 30 May 2017 video says about itself:

Humanitarian groups accuse Libyan coast guard of ‘endangering refugee lives’

Search and rescue organisations in the Mediterranean Sea are accusing the Libyan coastguard of reckless behaviour that’s endangering lives.

A series of incidents caught on camera appears to show Libyan ships trying to prevent refugees from being pulled from the water. Refugees also say they’ve been robbed and shot at by Libyan forces. Al Jazeera’s Laurence Lee reports from Sicily.

By Anthony Torres and Alex Lantier in France:

France illegally arming Libyan coastguards to stop refugees from Africa

1 June 2019

While hundreds of thousands of refugees are attempting to escape Libya to Europe, the Macron government in France is providing the Libyan coastguard with six ships to catch refugees sailing to Europe and return them to Libya, where they are imprisoned in concentration camps. The policy, which has been condemned by multiple human rights organizations because of the prevalence of torture, rape, slavery and murder in the camps, is both barbaric and illegal.

At a February security conference in Munich, Minister of the Armed Forces Florence Parly informed Faïez el-Sarraj, the President of the Government of National Unity based in Tripoli, that France had purchased six boats for Libya. The purpose was to stop the flow of migrants attempting to journey across the Mediterranean. According to the press, the ships, built by the company Sillinger, which equips the French special forces, include dedicated supports for the Libyan regime to mount machine guns.

On May 10, the Paris Administrative Court rejected the request of eight human rights organizations—including Amnesty International, Doctors without Borders, Cimade, and Migreurop—to suspend the boats’ delivery. They had pointed to European and UN embargoes against the sale of arms to Libya, and the “foreseeable consequences of the delivery of the six boats for the human rights of migrants and refugees intercepted and returned to Libyan soil.”

In the French-language press, a deafening silence reigns over the atrocious conditions in which refugees are being held in Libyan camps built with the financial support of the European powers. By 2017, human rights organizations and CNN had reported torture, sexual abuse and murder in the detention centers (See: “Amnesty International report exposes EU role in mass torture of refugees in Libya”).

Last November, La Croix interviewed Vincent Cochetel, special envoy of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, on the conditions for refugees detained in Libya.

When asked whether the practicing of slavery in Libya reported in 2017 was disappearing, Cochetel replied: “On the contrary, these practices have increased in number. As it is more difficult to leave Libyan soil, traffickers need to monetize their investment by exploiting even more detainees who are sold or lent by the day. In addition, detention situations have deteriorated.”

He added, “We don’t know much about detention centers controlled by traffickers and militia. But … since the beginning of the year, 14,595 people have been intercepted at sea by the Libyan coastguard and repatriated to Libyan soil. Some of them were finally able to return home with the help of the International Organization for Migration. But it is clear that a large proportion of them have been sold to traffickers to be used for labour on farms or construction sites, or even, for women, for sexual exploitation.”

Cochetel’s testimony underscores that the denunciations of human trafficking by European countries are entirely cynical, because the concentration camps they have built are an essential component of the financial strategy of these networks. According to Cochetel, Libyan law specifies that any irregular foreigner must “pay a fine or hard labour. This legal framework promotes human trafficking and the detention system is part of its business model.”

Libya is currently experiencing a resurgence of civil war between the militias that NATO powers supported during the imperialist war waged in 2011 to destroy the Gaddafi regime. The growth in military conflict, against the backdrop of a struggle for influence between Paris, Rome and other regional powers in the strategic and oil-rich country, only intensifies the suffering of refugees.

Marshal Khalifa Haftar, in conflict with the puppet government in Tripoli, launched an offensive in early April to conquer the capital. According to UN agencies, at least 278 people were killed, 1,332 injured and 35,000 displaced. The International Committee of the Red Cross stated: “The humanitarian situation in and around Tripoli has deteriorated severely in the past three weeks.”

Michael Neuman of MSF, an NGO that still has staff on the ground in Libya, testified to La Croix: “Libyan coastguards are menacing when they intercept migrants at sea, and systematically send them to detention centres. France is complicit in these practices.”

Nevertheless, despite unequivocal evidence, the Paris Administrative Court approved the transfer of the six French ships to Libya to force the refugees to remain in that country: “The decision to make such a free transfer of equipment intended for the Libyan armed forces is not detachable from the conduct of France’s external relations.” The court therefore declared itself incompetent to issue a judgment preventing the transfer of the vessels to the Libyan coastguard.

In other words, French foreign policy is not “detachable” from the torture, rape and murder of thousands of refugees, and a calculated disregard for their basic democratic rights. French policy follows the strategy of Rome, which has also concluded agreements with militia, particularly in Sabratha, to prevent boats from departing for Europe.

This also underlines the fraudulent nature of the official propaganda calling upon workers and youth to vote for pro-EU parties, supposedly to block the rise of neo-fascist organizations. In fact, the imperialist war in Libya has paved the way for the criminalisation of European foreign policy, in line with the xenophobia openly incited by the extreme-right.

This is an unforgettable lesson in the nature of the imperialist war in Libya—as well as the charlatanry of the pro-imperialist petty-bourgeois “left” who applauded NATO’s bombing of Libya as a “humanitarian” operation to liberate the country from Gaddafi.

Postmodernist essayist Bernard Henri-Lévy and the leaders of Olivier Besancenot’s New Anti-Capitalist Party (NPA) insisted that the country should be bombed, and that rebel Islamist or tribal militias must be armed in order to overthrow the regime. In 2011 Professor Gilbert Achcar of the NPA said that French imperialism should be called upon to protect Libya: “We are in a situation where the population is really in danger and there is no other alternative to protect them.”

These representatives of the wealthy middle classes, whose careers depend on their presence in the official media or on the state funding of their university research, have all adopted the view that imperialism could liberate Libya through a democratic revolution. It was a pack of lies. Now their “democratic revolution” has restored slavery and the most atrocious abuses, partly financed and facilitated by European money and military equipment.

AIRSTRIKES ON MIGRANT CENTER KILL AT LEAST 40 At least 40 people were killed and 80 injured when an airstrike hit a migrant center east of the Libyan capital of Tripoli early Wednesday, according to the Health Ministry’s emergency service Field Medicine and Support Center. [CNN]

In an address to the National Assembly last night, French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe announced a series of far-reaching austerity measures, particularly targeting pensions and unemployment payments, as well as new attacks against immigrants and Muslims: here.

French persecution for disclosing Saudi weapons scandal

This 10 April 2018 video is called France’s Macron defends Saudi arms sales.

By Will Morrow:

French government threatens “national security” charges against journalists who revealed Yemen war arms sales

30 May 2019

The Macron government is threatening to lay charges carrying a five-year jail sentence against journalists who exposed its secret provision of arms for Saudi Arabia’s illegal war in Yemen, in which tens of thousands of civilians have been killed.

On April 15, the journalistic organization Disclose published a classified 15-page document prepared last October by the direction of army security for the president and leading ministers. It provided precise information of the use of French arms by Saudi Arabia in Yemen, including tanks, missiles and laser-guiding systems. The document also proved that multiple French officials, including Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly, had repeatedly lied by denying that French arms were being used in this war crime.

Shortly after the report was published, the Macron government summoned three journalists involved in the exposure for questioning by the General Directorate for Internal Security: Geoffrey Livolsi and Mathias Destal, the co-founders of Disclose, as well as Benoit Collombat of Radio France.

On May 14, Disclose tweeted a statement reporting on the questioning that took place that afternoon in north-western Paris, protesting the far-reaching attack on the freedom of the press by the Macron administration.

According to the statement, the journalists were each informed at the start of their questioning that the investigation was being opened under laws of “terrorism and attack on national security”. “This”, Disclose writes, “deprives the Disclose journalists of protections guaranteed by the law of 29 July 1881 on the freedom of the press.” The police sought to coerce them into identifying their source.

“The formulation of questions had the singular objective of violating the fundamental protections of the right of the press to secrecy of sources, a critical element of the freedom of the press.” They were questioned about their personal Twitter and Facebook postings, “including some which had no relation to the topic of the interview. Another attempt at intimidation.”

“Before exercising their right to silence, Mathias Destal and Geoffrey Livolsi therefore declared to the investigators that they were acting in their mission of informing the public,” it said. On May 28, a third Disclose journalist, Michel Dispratz, was questioned by the intelligence service.

The Macron administration will likely lay charges against the journalists under an extraordinary, anti-democratic law passed in July 2009, on “security of defense secrets”. It makes it illegal for anyone to come into possession, “destroy”, or “bring to public knowledge” any document deemed by the government to be important to “national security”. It includes a maximum 5 years’ jail term upon conviction, and a 75,000 euro fine.

The Macron government’s actions are part of a drive by capitalist governments around the world—assisted by the state stenographers in the corrupted corporate media—to criminalize whistleblowing and destroy the freedom of the press.

Its sharpest expression is in the persecution of WikiLeaks journalist Julian Assange and whistleblower Chelsea Manning.

The Trump administration, with the support of the Australian and British governments, is seeking to extradite Assange from the UK for having exposed US war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan, and to try him under the Espionage Act, for which he faces a sentence of 170 years or the death penalty. At the same time, Manning, WikiLeaks’s source, is being held indefinitely in jail in the US for contempt of court, after she refused to testify before a grand jury impaneled to bring further frame-up charges against Assange.

Those political forces and publications, including Le Monde in France, that have promoted the slanders used to justify Assange’s persecution, bear responsibility for creating the political environment in which Macron is able to carry out these actions.

The Disclose report makes clear that the French government violated international law, including a 2014 European treaty on arms sales, by selling arms with knowledge that they would be used in war crimes. Yet as in the case of Assange and Manning, those facing criminal charges are not the perpetrators of the crime, but the journalists and whistleblowers who exposed it to the population.

Livolsi told the Intercept on May 17 that “they want to make an example of us because it’s the first time in France that there have been leaks like this. They want to scare journalists and their sources away from revealing state secrets.”

The Macron government is utilizing the case to make clear that it is completely unaccountable to the population. It says it will not comment on the content of the leaks, which have been read by hundreds of thousands of people, because they are “classified.” Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly gave an interview with BFM-TV host Jean-Jacques Bourdin on May 8, in which the following exchange took place:

Bourdin: Do you have in your possession the 15-page report edited by the direction of military security on the security situation in Yemen?

Parly: I have many reports in my possession.

Bourdin: Do you have this report in your possession? Yes or no?

Parly: It’s a report that I have had in my possession. I am a recipient of this document. I’m even an authorized recipient, in contrast to others, who have procured it, who should not have had it in their possession because they are classified files.

Bourdin: Well, these are journalists who obtained the documents.

Parly: In violation of all the rules and laws of our country.

Bourdin: What does the document say?

Parly: I’m not at all in the habit of commenting on classified notes.

Bourdin: These journalists, Florence Parly, have revealed what is in this note, this confidential document.

Parly: I have nothing to say since, because it’s classified, one can reveal things which are not contained in it.

Bourdin: What they have revealed is not actually in the note?

Parly: I have nothing to say. I’ve said that when one divulges classified documents, one opens oneself up to charges, and it is not the minister of the army, who I am, who is going to comment in affirming or confirming what is in this note.

Parly spoke before an armed services and national defense commission hearing of the National Assembly on May 7, and not only defended the arms sales to Saudi Arabia, but also declared that the French state must in general be able to sell arms to countries carrying out war crimes.

“Once a war is launched, when our partners use force in a manner that does not appear to us to be compatible with international humanitarian law, we do not hesitate to tell them,” she said. “But should we cease all sales of arms to these countries and interrupt the servicing of equipment that has already been provided? I believe that in this situation, we must exercise our discretion.”

She added: “It would be a serious blow to the reputation of France in the eyes of our clients to give the impression that we may desert our partners mid-way through their journey if we disapprove of such and such actions. In the end, it would disrupt an entire industrial and technological ecosystem in our country, which depends upon our exports contracts.”

These remarks point to the real considerations behind the Macron government’s persecution of the Disclose journalists. Having participated in numerous illegal neo-colonial wars over the past 25 years, including the 2011 rape of Libya, the French ruling class is preparing for wars that would involve crimes on a scale that has not been seen in the lifetime of the current generation. It also knows there is mass opposition in the working class to militarism and war and to social inequality and poverty, expressed in the mass “yellow vest” protests over the past six months. It is accordingly building up a police state to suppress any and all opposition.

As young people took part in a music festival on June 21 on a wharf in Nantes, western France, police forces launched a violent assault on the concert. In the course of the police crackdown, 14 people fell seven meters into the Loire river. One young man, since identified as 24-year-old Steve Caniço, is missing and is feared to have drowned in the river during the attack: here.

Dutch secret service sues journalist about ‘state secrets’: here.

Macron against free speech in France

This 23 May 2019 French France Inter video says about itself (translated):

When the secret police summons the journalists

Several journalists have been summonsed recently by the General Directorate for Internal Security. Yesterday, we learned about the summoning of Ariane Chemin, a journalist at Le Monde, by the General Directorate for Internal Security. We say, the “DGSI”. Reason: her revelations about the Benalla affair and about others close to the Elysee [presidential palace of Emmanuel Macron].

Astonishment. Even the Washington Post in the United States wrote about it tonight. What do investigators want to know? Who are the sources of Ariane Chemin? What documents does she possess? Is there an attempt to intimidate?

The case is all the more disturbing as, at the same time, a number of journalists (eight to our knowledge), is being summoned one after the other by the DGSI for their work on what, this time? On French arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

Are there banned subjects in our country?

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Summons for Le Monde reporter amid scandal

FRENCH unions and campaign groups warned of a worrying clampdown on free speech today, after Le Monde reporter Ariane Chemin became the fifth journalist to receive a summons in recent weeks.

Her call to meet French intelligence services is believed to have stemmed from her reporting on French President Emmanuel Macron’s former aide Alexandre Benalla.

Ms Chemin broke the news in May 2018 that Mr Benalla had posed as a police officer to attack protesters at a [May Day] demonstration.

The reporting caused a scandal, after it was revealed that Mr Benalla held several diplomatic passports months after he was sacked, allowing him to meet a number of African leaders.

It emerged that Mr Benalla had allegedly negotiated financial deals with Russian oligarchs, including one between former French air officer Chokri Wakrim and Iskander Makhmudov, who is alleged to have links to the Russian mafia.

Mr Wakrim’s wife Marie-Elodie Poitout was forced to resign as head of security at Matignon after it was revealed that she had hosted Mr Benalla at the [Matignon] prime minister’s residence after his sacking.

Mr Macron survived a vote of no confidence last year, however, the scandal has continued to plague his government.

The journalist has been summoned for “committing or attempting to commit the offence of revealing or disclosing, by any means, any information that could lead, directly or indirectly, to the identification of a person as a member of special forces.”

She could face jail if found guilty.

However, Le Monde defended Ms Chemin and said in an editorial: “We express our worries regarding this summons: the public interest implies the capacity to investigate the links and relationships of collaborators of the Elysee and Matignon, whatever their previous careers.”

Last week two journalists from the NGO Disclose and one from Radio France’s investigation department were summoned regarding the publication of revelations on French weapons used in the war in Yemen.

Committee to Protect Journalists co-ordinator Gulzona Said said: “We are concerned by French police summoning journalists of different media outlets, including Le Monde, over their reports.

“It is of vital importance for a free press that journalists are able to work uncensored while protecting the confidentiality of their sources.

“French authorities should respect that, and allow journalists to continue informing the French public about an important news story.”

French Macron meets Bahraini absolute monarch

Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, right, is greeted by French President Emmanuel Macron before a meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris, today

From daily The Morning Star in Britain today:

Macron urged to demand Bahraini king releases political prisoners during state visit

Failing to raise the issue would be ‘a stain on France’s historical commitment to human rights’, Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy said

Hundreds of thousands of French workers demonstrated on Thursday as part of a nationwide public sector strike to oppose the Emmanuel Macron government’s draft law on the “modernization” of the public sector: here.

French persecution for revealing Saudi weapons scandal

This 11 April 2018 video says about itself:

France: President defends sale of weapons to Saudi led coalition

France: President Emmanuel Macron defends sale of weapons to Saudi led coalition. 75% of French people oppose arms sales to Saudi Arabia and UAE.

By Will Morrow:

Macron moves to prosecute journalists who revealed French arms sales in Yemen war

26 April 2019

In a far-reaching assault on democratic rights and free speech, the government of Emmanuel Macron is moving to prosecute journalists who have exposed both France’s complicity in Saudi Arabia’s illegal war in Yemen as well as the Macron government’s efforts to cover it up.

The government’s actions are a response to the publication of a report on April 15 by the journalistic organization Disclose, in partnership with the Intercept, Radio France, Mediapart, Arte Info and Konbini. The report includes a leaked, classified intelligence report to the president and leading ministers from September last year with precise information on the use of French arms in Yemen. It proves that the Macron government’s claims that it had no evidence that French arms were being used in the war, which has killed tens of thousands of civilians, were lies.

Late Wednesday afternoon, Disclose and its partners published a joint statement reporting that its co-founders Geoffrey Livolsi and Mathias Destal, as well as Benoit Collombat of Radio France, had been summoned to appear before police yesterday for questioning in relation to the revelations.

“We have learned that a preliminary investigation for ‘compromising national defence secrets’ has been launched by the Paris prosecutors,” it states. The investigation is being conducted by the General Directorate for Internal Security (DGSI), the domestic intelligence agency.

Condemning the Macron government’s assault on a free press, the Disclose statement notes: “The confidential documents revealed by Disclose and its partners presents a major public interest: making citizens and their representatives aware of what the government has sought to conceal. That is, indispensable information for the conduct of a balanced debate on arms contracts tying France to countries accused of war crimes.”

“These proceedings against journalists have no other aim than to reveal our sources. In effect, this summons by the DGSI is an opening to find the principal author of the offense that we were the recipients of: those who allowed the sharing of information in the public interest.

“Let us be clear. This police investigation is an attack on the freedom of the press, which requires the anonymity of a journalist’s sources. An attack that is all the more serious given that the executive power is abusing ‘defence secrets’ to extend the notion of protecting the interests of the nation to include the question of commercial transactions with countries at war…

“To the question: ‘Do the French people have the right to be informed about the use of arms sold to countries accused of war crimes?’, the government has thus chosen to answer with threats.”

The government’s actions were also condemned in a statement signed by 36 French press outlets, including Le Monde and AFP. It states that “defence secrets cannot be opposed to the right to information, indispensable to a dignified public debate, or serve as a Damocles sword to dissuade journalists from investigating and publishing.”

The classified intelligence report leaked to Disclose is entitled “Yemen: Security Situation.” It was presented to Emmanuel Macron for a defence council meeting on October 3, 2018, at which Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and Minister of Defence Florence Parly were also present.

It provides detailed information about the locations of arms used in Yemen. It documents that French-supplied CAESAR howitzer artillery were stationed along the Yemen-Saudi Arabian border with their turrets facing towns and villages inhabited by hundreds of thousands of people. Disclose states that satellite images confirm that the artillery has been used in Saudi coalition offensives. French tanks and laser-guided missile systems for aerial bombers were also confirmed to have been used.

The war against Yemen, one of the world’s poorest countries, has been waged by the Saudi monarchy since 2014 with the assistance of both the Obama and Trump administrations and the European imperialist powers, including Britain and France. Tens of thousands of civilians have been killed. Up to 14 million people, or half the population, face starvation as a result of the Saudi monarchy’s strategy of blockading Yemeni ports to stop supplies of food and humanitarian aid.

The report makes clear that France’s actions are in violation of international law, including the 2014 European treaty on arms trade, which outlaws arms sales when the country has “knowledge at the time of authorization that the arms or items would be used in the commission of” war crimes. It strongly suggests that top Macron administration officials have violated European law.

While the government has refused to respond to the revelations, Minister of Defence Parly tried to downplay their significance last week, telling Radio Classique on April 18 that “to my knowledge, these arms are not used in an offensive manner in this war in Yemen and … in any case I do not have any proof permitting to state that French arms are the source of civilian victims.”

These weasel words should be rejected with the contempt they deserve, as an examination of the objective record makes clear. On January 20, two months after the Macron government received the classified report, Parly told France Inter that she had “no knowledge of whether [French] arms are being used in the conflict,” and added that “we have not recently sold any arms which could be used in the conflict.”

In the wake of Disclose’s revelations, this line has simply been shifted. At the same time, according to AFP, citing an anonymous juridical source, the government had discovered the leak of the report in December last year, and ordered an internal investigation on December 13, while maintaining its lies. Yet on April 18, Parly grotesquely added that “all our efforts … are oriented to seeking to end this conflict and find a political solution,” denouncing what she called a “dirty war.”

The Macron government is responding to an exposure of its own complicity in war crimes by seeking to prosecute those who have made this information available to the French and international working class. Its actions are part of the trampling on democratic rights and turn to authoritarian forms of rule by the capitalist elite in countries across Europe and internationally.

This finds its sharpest expression in the persecution of WikiLeaks and its editor Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning, whose sole “crime” consists in their courageous actions in exposing documentary evidence of US war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the criminal activities of other capitalist governments. Through a conspiracy of the governments of Australia, Britain, the US and Ecuador, Assange is now in prison, threatened with an illegal extraordinary rendition to the United States, where the torturers and war criminals he exposed are seeking to put him in jail for life, or worse. While Manning remains behind bars in the US for refusing to testify at a grand jury established to bring further frame-up charges against the WikiLeaks publisher.

The Macron government’s actions confirm the warnings issued by the World Socialist Web Site: the persecution of Assange and Manning is aimed at setting a precedent for the criminalization of journalism and prosecution of those who bring government crimes to light. All of the European powers support the rendition of Assange to the United States, because they are no less terrified of the growing social opposition to their own rule at home in the working class, and are determined to utilize the same police-state methods to repress opposition.

The WSWS is utilizing its annual online May Day rally this year to build the opposition to the persecution of Manning and Assange, and connect the fight for their defence to the construction of an international socialist movement of the working class against war, inequality, the growth of the far-right and the capitalist system.

French human rights activists celebrate victory over Saudi ship war cargo: here.

Libyans protest against French Macron’s war

This 20 April 2019 video says about itself:

Libyans accuse France of backing Tripoli assault

Hundreds of “yellow vest” protesters demonstrated in the Libyan capital Tripoli against an offensive by military strongman Khalifa Haftar accusing France of backing him. Wearing the trademark yellow vests of French anti government demonstrators, they flooded the central Tripoli square … Friday’s rally came days after a smaller protest brought out dozens of “yellow jacket” demonstrators.

“Today on the Martyrs Square, we [demonstrate] against the invasion of gangs led by the terrorist Khalifa Haftar. We say no to military rule and no to an individual rule but yes to a civil state”, said Ali Abboud, Libyan protester.

“At Martyrs Square we reject the crime committed by the war criminal Haftar, against the militarisation of the state and against the targeting of civilians with bombs and blind missiles. We call for a civil state, God willing”, said Abdullah, Libyan protester. …

More than 200 people have been killed and more than 900 wounded since the violence erupted, the World Health Organization said on Thursday.

Macron’s austerity burned Paris Notre Dame

This 14 March 2017 video from France says about itself:

France: Firefighters flare up protest against austerity in Paris

Thousands of firefighters staged a demonstration in Paris, Tuesday, to protest against austerity measures and demand better recognition. Dressed in their firefighters’ uniforms, or ‘bunker gear,’ protesting firefighters marched from Place de la Republique to Place de la Nation, throwing flares and coloured smoke canisters.

SOT, Francois, firefighter from Pyrenees Atlantiques (French): “We are here today because we are the most appreciated profession in France but we are also the least recognised [by authorities]. Firstly we are under territorial divisions, so each department does what they want with us. We are working 24 hours while guards get paid as much for 17 hours.”

SOT, Vincent, firefighter and union member from Christian Workers Union (CFTC) (French): “This situation for professional firefighters is precarious, and the result is that we are losing 1000 second class firefighters, who are not engaged and the winners of the professional accreditation in 2013 are without jobs. We can see that the majority of the department is engaging “Future Jobs” (special contract) or “Civic services” to replace professional firefighters.”

That was over two years ago. Then, the French government decided not to pay more than a measly 2 million euros a year on the restoration of the Paris Notre Dame cathedral. Which meant insufficient fire safety. Which meant the devastating fire of this week.

By Alex Lantier in France:

No to calls for “national unity” after the burning of Notre Dame in Paris

20 April 2019

The calls in the French media and ruling elite for national unity after a horrific fire devastated Notre Dame cathedral on Monday in Paris deserve nothing but contempt. Their goals are obvious. They aim to strangle all critical reflection on the causes and lessons of this shocking event, which has exposed the utter irresponsibility of the state machine; and to stabilize President Emmanuel Macron’s government, which is rocked by the upsurge of the class struggle, with “yellow vest” protests and mass protests against the Algerian military regime.

The cause of the devastation of Notre Dame cathedral is the lack of serious fire security in renovation work, rooted in austerity and the relentless self-enrichment of the financial aristocracy. The French state refused to foot the €100 million bill for the renovation, leaving church officials to beg for money internationally. The plan that was ultimately adopted ignored basic fire security measures, including the need to hire sufficient fire security staff. After a fire alarm, under this plan, it would take staff up to 20 minutes to reach and inspect the area.

The gaping holes in this plan—adopted amid Macron’s austerity policy that funnels hundreds of billions of euros to the army, tax cuts for the rich, and bank bailouts—had disastrous consequences. Despite two fire alarms on Monday, Notre Dame staff

who are religious employees, not fire experts

could not locate the fire until much of the roof was ablaze and the spire was collapsing.

After this disaster the major media and parties are calling for a political truce and a halt to all criticism. Macron’s Republic on the March (LRM) and the neo-fascist National Rally (RN) suspended their European campaigns. …

Europe1 radio enthused, “Deep emotion took over all the state officials who went to visit the flaming cathedral. The president, prime minister … all went to see for themselves. In one hour, a holy union was formed. There were no discordant notes in the call for national unity, except maybe Jean-Luc Mélenchon because he asked Emmanuel Macron to be quiet for a few days.”

By raising the “holy union”—historically, the name for the bourgeoisie’s union with the social democrats to wage the First World War and oppose the rising international communist movement emerging from the October 1917 Russian revolution—Europe1 perhaps said more than it intended.

The current official campaign for French “national unity” is an almost chemically pure example of the reactionary role of nationalism, which by denying the significance of the international class struggle subordinates the workers to the military-austerity diktat of the ruling class. While the major parties led the call to silence criticism of official policy in the name of national unity, they left it to the Medef business federation to specify what “national unity” means.

On Wednesday, Medef President Geoffroy Roux de Bézieux went on BFM-TV to deliver a full-throated defense of the tax cuts for the rich and exorbitantly wealthy that led to this disaster. Hailing an “incredible enthusiasm” in the nation for rebuilding Notre Dame, he denounced “pathetic debates on tax cuts”, saying: “If you tax people too much in France, they will go elsewhere. We need rich taxpayers who pay their taxes in France.”

Roux de Bézieux then hailed the billionaire Arnault and Pinault families, who refused to fund the renovation but are now giving a few hundred million euros to towards the multi-billion-euro project of rebuilding the cathedral. He said, “If the state paid 100 percent, who would pay? It’s you and me, everyone, the taxpayers. … So I think it’s great that there are people who agree to pay out of pocket to help. It’s a real moment of national unity.”

The fate of Notre Dame cathedral and the Medef’s ignorant lust for money are a warning to workers not only in France but around the world. The only way forward for workers is to expropriate the irresponsible and parasitic ruling class that dominates official public life. Class struggle, rejecting nationalist appeals for unity with the super-rich and fought through to its conclusion, is the only way to resolve the urgent problems created by the destructive operations of the financial aristocracy.

Mélenchon’s pretense that the great divide in French society is between atheists and believers is just as false … One recent poll found that only 4.5 percent of French people attend mass at least once a month. The great divide is class—the line separating the overwhelming majority of workers forced to sell their ability to labor to an employer, and the parasites of the financial aristocracy.

Belgian pro-climate school strike activist Anuna De Wever: now suddenly billions for Notre Dame. How about the climate?

Macron government intended to break environmental and historical heritage rules in reconstructing Notre Dame: here.

Last week, French billionaire Bernard Arnault, the CEO and leading shareholder of luxury fashion retail group LVMH, became the third person in history to surpass the US$100 billion mark in personal wealth. Only Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos (worth $157 billion) and Microsoft head Bill Gates ($102.9 billion) are richer: here.

In the more than three months since the April 15 fire that devastated and came close to destroying Paris’ historic Notre Dame cathedral, evidence has continued to mount that the fire was the outcome of systematic cutbacks and negligence on the part of the French government. At the same time, Paris authorities are covering up the health dangers posed to the local population, particularly children. The fire caused almost 400 tons of lead roofing to be carried away by smoke onto nearby schools, maternity centers, houses and sidewalks: here.

French President Macron victim of own authoritarianism

This 31 March 2019 video from France is called (translated) Emmanuel Macron‘s full burnout? “Luckily he’s wearing makeup, otherwise we would see his real situation”.

Translated from Dutch daily Algemeen Dagblad, 2 April 2019:

“Macron on the verge of burnout”

According to his inner circle, the French president is not doing well. They testify to the French newspaper Le Parisien that Emmanuel Macron is completely exhausted by the “lonely” way in which he exercises power. He wants to be in control as much as possible, but that is not without consequences.

The past year in which his country staggered from one crisis to another has left its mark on Macron, who is now 41 years old. The energetic and driven impression that the head of state invariably leaves behind in public appearances is only a facade. His loved ones know better and are very worried. The politician is exhausted. A burnout is lurking. …

Worst manager ever

… Macron is increasingly dependent on himself when exercising power. The situation is likely to become problematic. Since the start of his mandate, the president has seen many members of his team leave. Substitutes are hardly found. “All Macron confidants have disappeared. He is the worst manager which the world has produced”, Le Parisien says.

Meanwhile the protests of the yellow vests are continuing and the president is risking even more sleepless nights. In the meantime, some have begun to doubt his capacity to defuse the crisis in his country. “I don’t see how the crisis can end. With spring in sight, the yellow vests will soon be organizing barbecues on the roundabouts in Paris”, says a worried friend.

Macron dreams of nipping the unrest in the bud with a measure that produces a “wow effect” and blows everyone off their socks. But his intimates see that gloomily. “If he disappoints, then he is done. And he will disappoint … “

After Macron-Italian conflict, Macron-Dutch conflict

This video from France says about itself:

Macron “The Invader”: Italian papers lash out at France over border row

Monday, 2 April, 2018 Part I: For French papers it was a mere “hiccup,” but the Italian press is furious that French border guards made a Nigerian man take a drug test on Italian soil. “France has violated Italy’s borders” headlines La Stampa, while for Repubblica the incident reveals “France’s true face” on immigration. We also take a quick look at reactions to clashes on the Gaza border, tributes to civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr., and black cowboys comin’ straight outta Compton.

10 months after this Italian-French conflict about French border guards arresting a Nigerian refugee on Italian soil … while French President Macron and the Italian government wage a bloody oil war in Libya, Macron has another conflict with the Dutch government.

This time not about oil, like with Italy, but about the Air France-KLM Franco-Dutch airline.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

Macron calls Dutch decision on Air France-KLM an ‘unfriendly move’

The French president Macron wants clarification from the Dutch government about their decision to buy a share in Air France-KLM.

In the past few weeks, the Dutch state bought 680 million euros worth of shares in the holding company and now owns more than 12 percent of the corporation. France calls that an unfriendly move by the Netherlands.

Probably, Macron will now preach to the Dutch government that governmental influence in corporations violates the Free Enterprise sacred gospel of Ayn Rand, Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump; and that, eg, in transport, there should be privatisation instead of governments owning shares.

The Dutch government did this because they were afraid that French influence was marginalizing the interests of Dutch businesses and government in Air France-KLM. They may reply to Macron‘s preaching that even with the Dutch government’s 12% of the shares bought recently, that is still less than the 14,3% of shares owned by the French government.

Flemish righ-wing N-VA government party politician Bourgeois supports Macron: here.