French soldiers will be sent into action against Yellow Vest protestors for the first time this weekend as the protests against the Macron government reach their ninetenth week. Some reports out of France suggest the military are being told to avoid protesters, while others indicate they have been given permission to open fire if the protestors threaten the lives of soldiers or police. Our girl in France, Cleo Hart, says the move seems to have heightened tensions between government and people.
According to various print and broadcast news outlets the soldiers have been redeployed from anti-terror Operations duties, and are expected to be stationed around national and municipal government buildings and other sensitive areas rather than engaged in law enforcement and riot control duties, but communication about the exact role they will have in controlling riots has been vague, according to Le Point.
The military deployment, which follows renewed violence last Saturday and the Emmanuel Macron government’s decision to ban protesters from the Champs-Elysees and other French city centres this Saturday, has been slammed by many, including Les Republicans senator Bruno Retailleau, who labelled it a “fatal decision.”
“It’s a turning point, it’s mostly a failure! I do not know if we used the army in ’68, I do not remember, but using the army, including in static form to protect buildings, is extremely dangerous,” he said.
“The military is not trained in policing. They are trained in combat, to kill and neutralize. This decision is absolutely deplorable.”
“In what European democracy is the army called in to police a social movement?” added Raphaël Glucksmann, who will lead France’s Socialist Party, for which President Macron was a government minister under predecessor François Hollande, in the upcoming European Parliament elections.
Now in the nineteenth week, the anti government protests by various ad — hoc groups of dissidents and dissatisfied citizens began as a protest against a proposed increase in vehicle fuel tax, which is why theGilet Jaune (yellow vest,) which must be carried in all vehicles in France, has become the emblem of the protest movement.
Since it began in November 2018, the scope of the protests against the Macron government has widened to embrace umemployment, high taxes, immigration, surrender of sovereignty to the EU bureaucracy Brussels, rising food costs and policies which the protestors claim favour the rich and corporate businesses at the expense of the working and middle classes.