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Hundreds of thousands of French at pension reform protests


The French government wanted to prevent further riots with a massive police presence. But even on the tenth day of protests against the pension reform, there was violence – apparently on both sides. The reform is now being examined by the Constitutional Council.

Hundreds of thousands of people protested against President Emmanuel Macron’s pension reforms in France. According to the police, riots broke out on the fringes of the demonstrations in several cities.

“Small, mobile groups that are very violent”, Friederike Hofmann, ARD Paris

tagesschau24 7:30 p.m., 28.3.2023

Pupils and students also mingled with the protest marches organized by trade unions. Some high schools and colleges have been blocked. The tenth day of nationwide protests was again accompanied by strikes, including at the state railway SNCF.

Massive police presence

The protests, which have been peaceful for weeks, have recently been overshadowed by massive violence and clashes. Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin wanted to deploy a total of 13,000 police officers over the course of the day, including 5,500 in Paris.

Despite the massive contingent, violence broke out in several cities. In Nantes, for example, a bank branch was set on fire. A car was also set on fire and firecrackers were shot at the police. Another car on fire was reported from Rennes in the afternoon, where roads were also blocked.

In Paris, the police had asked owners to close their shops along the demonstration route. During the demonstrations, officials used tear gas and stun grenades.

Serious allegations against police officers

But police officers also seem to use violence again and again. The Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatovic, warned in a statement last Friday that “sporadic acts of violence” by some demonstrators do not justify the “excessive use of force by officials”.

Dozens of videos and audio recordings are circulating online, apparently showing police violence. In the meantime, 17 procedures have been opened with the IGPN police supervisory authority.

attacks against officials

In a press conference, Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin recently defended his civil servants. They are exposed to extremely violent acts.

891 police officers and gendarmes were injured in attacks clearly aimed at them. In addition, 2,179 cases of arson were recorded, Darmanin explained. 123 other officers across the country were injured in the protests today.

Reform is reviewed by the Constitutional Council

The anger of the demonstrators is directed against the gradual increase in the retirement age from 62 to 64 years. With the reform, the middle government wants to close an impending gap in the pension fund.

The dispute intensified, among other things, because the government pushed the text without a vote by the National Assembly. A week ago, two motions of no confidence in the government failed. The reform has thus been passed. It will now be reviewed by the Constitutional Council. Macron wants the reform to come into force by the end of the year.

Union boss suggests mediation

Despite the ongoing protests, the government is not in sight. The head of the largest trade union, CFDT, Laurent Berger, suggested mediation. The reform must be suspended for a few weeks to allow consultations with a small group of mediators. He accused the government of refusing to engage in dialogue about the reform. “It’s unbearable that we’re being blocked.”

Government spokesman Olivier Véran, on the other hand, said that you could talk to each other without mediation. Because of the planned protests, a state visit by the British King Charles III. been cancelled.

Excavators clear 7000 tons of garbage

There was a sigh of relief in Paris, where the CGT union announced an end to the garbage disposal strike after more than three weeks. More than 7000 tons of garbage are still piling up in the streets. The city is now using excavators.

With information from Julia Borutta, ARD Studio Paris

Tenth day of protest against the pension reform

Julia Borutta, ARD Paris, March 28, 2023 7:25 p.m