Issued by CEMO Center - Paris
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Abdelrahim Ali
Abdelrahim Ali

How the French government dealt with the yellow vests?

Monday 28/January/2019 - 06:37 PM

·       11 person killed

·       Dozens arrested

·       Completely Ignoring the demands of the demonstrators

French President Emmanuel Macron has commented on the human rights situation in Egypt during his current visit to Cairo.

He criticized the situation without being aware of the fundamental differences between the Egyptian reality and the European reality, especially the French in terms of the turmoil in the Middle East and the attempts to establish a religious state supported by the West and US. Macron doesn’t aware so much about the other rights needed by the Egyptian people, like Education, health and work, as explained by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in his speech.

President Macron also forgot the price that Egypt pays to combat terrorism alone in the Sinai on behalf of the world.  

When Macron was asked about human rights situation in France, he did not explain what happened with the same clarity and frankness that he spoke about the human rights situation of Egyptian people.

So, I will deal with the subject in a neutral way, from a living perspective of the situation in France.

Yellow vests phenomenon:

 The Yellow vests phenomenon was emerged through simple groups on Facebook and videos of unrecognized people in September 2018 calling for demonstrations protesting against 7 cents up on a liter of diesel price in the same month.

 In October, the media were talking about Facebook pages called “yellow vests” and an online petition that was being circulated by an anonymous woman called Priscillia Ludosky, through ( website received more than a million signatures at the end of November.

 Sometimes the spokesmen of the “yellow vests” who run pages on Facebook are not politicians like Jacqueline Morud, Priscillia Ludosky and Pegamine Kochi, but also trade unionists such as Jason Herbert of the French Democratic Union of Labor and Christoph Kudrick of the General Federation of Labor joint them.

Political activists such as the “Francois Boehler” of the party "Deppo la France" tried to identify themselves as spokesmen by video clips seen hundreds of thousands of times wearing yellow vwsts, without mentioning their political activity.

First Saturday of the demonstrations:

November 17 was the first test of thesse virtual movement, and the field shift was largely successful with 287.710 demonstrators at 2.034 points, according to the Interior Ministry.

The crossings were closed on Saturday to ensure that the French did not obstruct the workdays, but this was abandoned in the days following the government's lack of reaction.

 The French suffered from these obstacles every day of the following week. Although 409 people were injured in the demonstrations, yellow vests have never been discouraged. Tension was mounting with the government's inflexibility.

Saturday, 24th of November:

 Another day and another challenge to the yellow vests that were intended to go to the capital, "Paris" to protest in the Champs-Elysées.

The Minister of the Interior pre-announced the ban of demonstrations on the street, but on the same day, the Republican security forces allowed yellow vests to do so, which the media did not understand and stunned the demonstrators.

At 10 am on the same day, the Republican security forces fired a tear gas before any attack by demonstrators, which angered the demonstrators who came to gather peacefully.

Late that morning, elements of the far left who had entered a battle with the police set up roadblocks in the Champs-Elysées, and because of the situation that angered the crowd in the area, the latter gave harsh tactics to the fanatical activists.

The RSF complained that no direct arrest warrants had been received against left-wing extremists, and the Secretary-General, François Delag, publicly questioned the refusal of the hierarchy to intervene against individuals who were recognizable in the early hours of their bad work.

 This complacency allowed the interior to indicate that these extremists had been left free as representatives of the "yellow vests," accusing them of "the curious" and structural plague," according to Minister Gerald Darmenin.

In line with the latter, Interior Minister Castaner accused Marin Le Pen of giving her extreme right-wing image of the yellow vests.

 However, that diabolical attempt did not succeed because the French know the distinction between things, where more than 50% of the French who were asked by the polling institutes were joined. 100,000 people according to the interior joint in the demonstrations (this figure is underestimated) and 24 wounded, including 5 police officers.

  Saturday 3rd December

 The third Saturday frightened people because the crowd was growing, and news channels devoted half their subjects to the yellow vests.

 The interior decided to stop access to the Champs-Elysées, access to the street was blocked on almost everyone. Groups of independent nationalists made up of rioters and professional activists attacked the police, and the elements of the Republican security forces had to retreat.

 The activists attacked street furniture, set fire to barriers, and assaulted police with a stolen construction vehicle. In the middle of the afternoon, young people arrived to the capital to enjoy the chaos, and saw them burn a police car and loot shops, especially attacking the Arc de Triomphe.

Outside Paris, the yellow vests targeted road tax barriers, which they accuse of inflating prices after privatizing them by Nicolas Sarkozy and opening the barriers. State symbols, such as provinces and tax centers, were targeted. Some of the headquarters of the Republican Party were also vandalized!

 This day has a strong psychological impact on the government, which felt that the situation completely become a catastrophe, and agreed by the French people with an approval rate of 70%.

 At the same time, the demands of yellow vests exceeded the issue of fuel costs to reach the demand to raise the minimum wage, restore wealth tax, raise pensions (which suffered a decline despite Macron’s electoral promises) and dissolve the National Assembly.

Prime Minister Edward Phillip announced that he would not give in to any of the claims (which increased the anger of the demonstrators). The next week he announced a six-month moratorium on increases that would have been made in 2019 on energy bills including fuel, heating oil and electricity.

Protesters are largely dissatisfied with the possibility of a six-month hike, as the increase in September 2018 has not been canceled. It should be noted that even before the increase mentioned in September 2018, fuel taxes were imposed by 60% in France.

 In order to calm, Emmanuel Macaron announced on December 5 that the total withdrawal of the 2019 increases, in contrast to his prime minister, who emerged from this crisis is very weak.

Saturday 4th December 8, 2018

 The demonstrations did not effect of the cancellation of the 2019 increases, even if the overall French reduced their support for the demonstrators (less than 60% compared to 70% in the previous week).

The strategy of the Minister of the Interior has changed by a decision to put more police in the Champs-Elysées, to initiate preventive detentions in the morning and to put 300 persons in detention for possessing a gas mask, only minorities have been released. The following day, 396 people were released.

Material damage was as high as the previous Saturday, especially in the provinces of Bordeaux, Marseille and Clermont-Ferrand, with looted shops by young immigrants of the exploiting population.