Police brutality against 73-year-old French woman

This 24 March 2019 video from France says about itself (translated):

Geneviève Legay, 74 years old, spokeswoman for Attac 06 and tireless peace campaigner, was seriously injured by a police charge, during the 19th Yellow Vests demonstration, Saturday, March 23 in Nice. See also the testimony of the first aid worker Thierry Paysant.

From daily News Line in Britain:

Monday, 25 March 2019


THE family of a 73-year-old French woman injured in a police charge at a protest are taking legal action.

Geneviève Legay fell and hit her head on a metal post during the banned ‘yellow vest’ demonstration in Nice. The incident, captured on video by demonstrators and journalists, is being investigated.

Ms Legay, who sustained skull fractures and bleeding next to the brain, is reported to be in a stable condition in intensive care. Legay, a spokeswoman for the local arm of an anti-globalisation NGO [Attac], had come to defend the right to demonstrate, her daughter said.

Protests had been banned in a large part of the southern city’s centre. The activist’s family plan to file a complaint for wilful violence by armed persons holding public authority on a vulnerable person, their lawyer said.

The Nice public prosecutor has opened an investigation to determine the origin of her injuries. Soldiers were deployed for the first time during Saturday’s protests to back up police and help maintain security. They were told that if they felt threatened they could open fire.

Protesters have been banned from the centres of many large French cities. But there has been widespread criticism of anti-terrorist forces being used to control crowds, with politicians from across the political spectrum voicing concerns.

Some 40,000 protested on Saturday across France, an increase from 32,000 protesters last weekend, the interior minister said. After last week’s riots, which resulted in more than 120 arrests, French President Emmanuel Macron had vowed ‘tough’ action.

See also here.

By Anthony Torres in France:

French “yellow vest” protests defy threat of army repression

25 March 2019

Despite “yellow vest” protesters’ anger at French officials’ threats to have the army fire on them, their marches on Saturday overall unfolded peacefully and without violent incidents. On Friday morning, the military governor of the Paris area, General Bruno Le Ray, had said that soldiers deployed to confront the “yellow vests” would have “different means for action faced with all types of threats. That can go as far as opening fire.”

Ultimately, there were no confrontations between the army and the “yellow vests” this weekend, or soldiers opening fire on protesters. It was the police forces that committed the only major act of violence that marred the weekend. In Nice, they violently charged and beat over the head a 73-year-old woman who was not threatening the police forces, as footage from several video surveillance cameras has confirmed. She has been hospitalized with subdural hematomas and was reportedly for a time in a coma.

“The police prefect has given the hospital very firm instructions not to communicate with the exterior, including with the family, who finds it very difficult to obtain information”, said Arié Alimi, the lawyer for the victim’s family. The family intends to bring a lawsuit against police for “voluntary violence by individuals disposing of state authority on vulnerable persons.” The daughter of the victim raised the question of the president’s responsibility, stressing that police are under no obligation to “obey the orders of a little king.”

French ophtalmologists against police brutality

French police fire rubber bullets at demonstrators in Nantes – opthamologists have called for a ban on such projectiles

From daily News Line in Britain:

Wednesday, 13 March 2019


FRANCE is experiencing an ‘epidemic of serious eye injuries’ as police repeatedly fire golf-ball-sized rubber bullets at Yellow Vest protesters, the country’s top ophthalmologists have written in a letter to French President Emmanuel Macron, demanding he halts use of the projectiles.

The French newspaper Journal du Dimanche published the letter to Macron, written by the country’s 35 leading ophthalmologists, on Saturday. Many people risk losing their vision, the doctors wrote, adding that the rubber balls fly with great force and are often directed inaccurately. The letter demands ‘a moratorium’ on using rubber bullets.

French riot police have become notorious for using hand-held guns, locally known as defence-ball launchers or Flash-Balls, during the protests that have been ongoing since November. Rubber bullets have been deployed more than 13,000 times, according to local officials.

More than 20 protesters have lost eyes, five hands have been partially or entirely torn off, and one person lost their hearing as a result of a TNT-stuffed GLI F4 stun grenade.

The legal status of rubber-ball guns has been repeatedly questioned by human rights associations and politicians in France and abroad.

In early February France’s top administrative court refused to ban the police from using the hand-held launchers. Last Wednesday, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet called for a ‘full investigation’ of excessive use of force towards the Yellow Vests who, according to her words, simply demand a ‘respectful dialogue’.

Government figures show that over 2,000 protesters have been injured since the protests began in November. A French court rejected a bid by campaigners to have the use of such weapons banned, despite the UN’s call for an investigation into the excessive use of force by police. However, the mayor of one French town has instructed police to stop using the ball launchers.

Dany Koxher, mayor of Phalsbourg, a town of only 5,000 people in the northeast Moselle region, said: ‘As a citizen and an observer, I find that the government’s responses are disproportionate against the demonstrators.’ In support of his position, he cited both the statement from the UN rights body and an earlier call from the Council of Europe to suspend the use of the weapons.

Meanwhile, according to the Interior Ministry, 39,300 Yellow Vest protesters demonstrated nationwide last Saturday, including 4,000 in Paris, for a 17th straight weekend. Pink-vested women led the Paris march, calling for equal rights and equal pay a day after International Women’s Day.

A water cannon was fired at several hundreds of the protesters who remained on the Champs-Elysees and wanted to leave the security perimeter. The march, which began at the Arc de Triomphe, at the top of the famous avenue, looped through both sides of the Seine River before ending at the top of Luxembourg Gardens on the Left Bank.

In Paris, rather than the usual Saturday demonstrations, there was a sit-in at the Champ de Mars, near the Eiffel Tower throughout the weekend. Marches were also held in numerous cities around France, including Bordeaux, which has a strong contingent of Yellow Vest protesters, Lille, and Le Puy-en-Velay, in south-central France, where hundreds joined from other regions.

‘The people don’t want more of this financial globalisation’, said Paris protester Yannick Caroff. ‘The French people will not back down … Between 10 and 15 million French are in misery,’ he said. A Yellow Jacket ‘flash mob’ event occurred at Paris’s Charles de Gaulle airport against plans to privatise Aeroports de Paris, the body that manages the capital’s airports.

About a thousand ‘Pink Vests’ – nursery school assistants and care workers – turned out in demonstrations across France calling for better tax and benefit conditions for their work. Saturday’s Yellow Vest demonstrations in several French cities also saw clashes between police and protesters.

A larger showing is widely expected at next week’s protests, marking four months of marches and coinciding with the end of President Macron’s two months of ‘grand national debate’. Instead of the usual scattered rallies across France, they want demonstrators to converge on Paris and are planning a major protest for this weekend of March 16th, under the title of ‘Act 18. The Ultimatum’.

• As French customs officers staged the sixth day of a work-to-rule strike last Saturday, airport officers joined customs workers in charge of Eurostar trains and of the Channel port of Calais. Eurostar trains from Paris to London were running up to two hours late, trucks were stacked up on the approaches to the Channel port of Calais and long lines were reported in airports across France on Saturday.

As the Brexit deadline of March 29 approaches, French customs officers are demanding higher pay and better working conditions with actions all over France.

Saturday was the first day that customs officers at airports across France joined in the work-to-rule strike.

They carried out longer and more rigorous checks than usual, in a bid to demonstrate what might happen in case of a ‘no-deal’ scenario, and if full border controls are put in place. All unions representing customs officers working at Paris’s Charles de Gaulle Airport called for strikes until April 1st, warning disruptions could be particularly intense over the weekend. Paris’s Orly, Chambéry, Grenoble and Nice Airports were also reported to be affected.

At Paris’s Gare du Nord railway station, where Eurostar trains leave for London, passengers waited in long queues to board trains. ‘All Eurostar trains are experiencing delays of up to two hours from Paris Gare du Nord and Lille Europe due to industrial action by French customs until March 12,’ Eurostar tweeted on Saturday. Some trains were cancelled.

‘People had to stand in line for half an hour in between two body checks, and only one screening machine out of five is in use,’ said FRANCE 24’s Louise Nordstrom, who was travelling from Gare du Nord. ‘But people are rather calm, even though many are going to miss their trains,’ she added.

‘This movement is going to last,’ Anne Azoulay-Fravel, a customs official from the CGT union, told FRANCE 24. I cannot foresee what will happen over the next few days, but it has been a long time since I last saw so many colleagues involved,’ she added.

Azoulay-Fravel believes that Brexit has simply exacerbated a pre-existing discontent. ‘For years, we adapted to the government’s every reform, always doing more with less staff,’ she said.

The French government has announced the recruitment of an extra 700 customs officials, over a period of three years, to cope with the demands of Brexit.

However, unions say more are needed. Work-to-rule strikes, which began Monday in the Channel ports of Dunkirk and Calais, northern France, led to long delays for trucks waiting to cross to Britain.

‘Strikes are also taking place in Marseille, as well as in Nice’s airports,’ in the south of France, Azoulay-Fravel added. Last Thursday, some 500 heavy goods vehicles had been corralled in holding areas just short of Calais to avoid clogging road traffic but they were allowed to proceed later that evening. Trucks were nevertheless still backed up for about four kilometres (2.4 miles) on the A16 motorway lane leading from Dunkirk to Calais, authorities added.

France: Police Threaten To Join Yellow Vests Protesters: here.

After Wednesday’s meeting of the council of ministers, French government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux announced that President Emmanuel Macron would activate army units during this weekend’s “yellow vest” protests. This is the first time since the 1954–1962 war in Algeria that the army is to be mobilized in police operations on French soil against the population: here.

French cardinal sentenced for child abuse cover-up

This 7 January 2019 video says about itself:

🇫🇷 France: cardinal on trial over child sex abuse coverup.

One of the most senior figures of the French Catholic Church involved in a sexual abuse scandal has gone on trial. Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, the archbishop of Lyon is accused of helping to cover up abuse against children.

Al Jazeera’s Dorsa Jabbari has more.

From the BBC today:

Phillipe Barbarin: French cardinal guilty of abuse cover-up

France’s most senior Roman Catholic cleric, Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, has been handed a six-month suspended sentence for his role in covering up the sexual abuse of minors.

Cardinal Barbarin was found guilty of not reporting allegations of assaults by a priest in the 1980s and 1990s.

He denied the charges and his lawyers say he will appeal against the verdict.

Cardinal Barbarin’s sentencing comes as the Catholic Church battles a fresh wave of abuse scandals.

During the trial, he told the court: “I cannot see what I am guilty of. I never tried to hide, let alone cover up these horrible facts.”

Cardinal Barbarin, who hold the position of Archbishop of Lyon, was not in court for the verdict.

The allegations relate to alleged abuse by priest Bernard Preynat, who is now 73. Dozens of men say he abused them as children.

Father Preynat ran a boy scouts group for many years, during which some of the abuse allegedly took place.

Cardinal Barbarin told the trial he had known of “rumours” as far back as 2010.

But he became aware of the abuse after a conversation with one of the victims in 2014. He informed the Vatican about the allegations, and removed Father Preynat from his position a year later – but never informed police.

The allegations became public in 2015 – and are now the subject of a film titled Grace of God, which was cleared for release last month after a legal battle.

Several of Father Preynat’s victims took action against Cardinal Barbarin and five others over their inaction.

They used provisions in French law to bring a private prosecution – circumventing the prosecutor’s office, which had not pursued action because the allegations happened too long ago.

French broadcaster BFMTV described the case as “the first major trial of paedophilia in the French Catholic Church”.

It comes amid a series of other Catholic scandals around the world.

Two weeks ago, Australia’s most senior cleric Cardinal George Pell – someone once widely seen as the Church’s third-most powerful official – was found guilty of abusing children.

An Australian jury found Pell had abused two choir boys in Melbourne’s cathedral in 1996. He is appealing that verdict.

Pope Francis, meanwhile, convened a conference on the sexual abuse of children in the church last month. He called for “concrete measures” to tackle the problem rather than “simple and obvious condemnations”, and labelled abusers “tools of Satan”.

Critics, however, say that little concrete action has been taken by the Church.

Islamophobic death threats against French sports shops workers

The Decathlon track and field hijab

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

A sporty headscarf for jogging Muslim women will not yet come to the shops in France. The plan has been canceled by sports retailer Decathlon because of serious threats.

“All women have the right to exercise, regardless of their culture”, said the store chain earlier. In the meantime, Decathlon has reversed that decision because of threats received by (shop) workers. “We suspend the project to guarantee the safety of our employees”, a statement says.

On Twitter, the store chain showed examples of what threats it got. “You are contributing to the invasion by Muslim extremists and should all die in the ovens in Poland“, someone wrote.

Meaning that this Islamophobe advocated mass murder of shop workers like happened in World War II to Jews in concentration camps like Auschwitz and Sobibor.

Previously, most French politicians had reacted disapprovingly to the intention to include a sporty hijab in the collection. …

The socialist opposition publicly wondered whether Decathlon should not be boycotted. …

The PS, the French Socialist Party, collapsed in recent elections because of their policies while in government of austerity and adapting to extreme right xenophobia. A major role in that played Blairite right-wing Prime Minister Valls, with his hatred of Roma and Islamophobic persecution of another sporting garment, the so-called ‘burkini‘. The PS supporters rejected Valls as their presidential candidate. He then tried, and failed, to join the new president Macron‘s party. He then moved to Spain, where he marched jointly with the Vox neonazi party against the social democrat government; joining a right-wing party that wants a coalition with the Vox fascists after the coming elections.

Unfortunately, it seems that the PS has not learned the lesson of their catastrophic election defeat, and that even though Valls is gone, some of his Islamophobic miasma remains.

That idea even got support from the right-wing radical Nicolas Dupont-Aignan: “I do not want my two daughters to grow up in a country where the place of the woman will soon be the same as in Saudi Arabia.”

Well, Mr far-rightist Nicolas Dupont-Aignan, if you don’t like the regime in Saudi Arabia, then you should ask President Macron to stop selling French weapons to the Saudi absolute monarchy for waging genocidal war on the people of Yemen. And you should criticize the right-wing ‘republican’ authorities for closing down a Riviera public beach to the public, reserving it for the Saudi royal family. You should not take it out in women on France who have nothing to do with the Saudi royals; who just happen to like clothes which you dislike. Maybe they dislike your clothes as well; but that should not give them the power to ban your favourite garments.

Not politicians or neonazis threatening shop workers with mass murder in Auschwitz should decide what clothes women wear. Only the women themselves should decide that. Whether it is about women wearing headscarves, ‘burkinis‘, bikinis, miniskirts, maxishirts, trousers, shorts; for short hair or for long hair; etc. etc.

The ruling party LREM of President Macron said they no longer have confidence in the sports retail chain. …

The sports headscarf is not new anymore. Sports brand Nike produced it already in 2017, that is for sale in France.

But now that a French brand wanted to sell the garment in a large sports chain and the sports headscarf would become more visible to the French public, many politicians considered it a step too far.