French Strike Violence: A View from the Left

Back now to the French strikes and street-demonstrations, still ongoing, in protest at the raise in the French national retirement age – and this time we’re off to L’Humanité, official organ of the French Communist Party.

Long-time readers of EuroSavant (Hi Mom!) will recall that this blog has certainly not been averse in the past to checking out what L’Humanité has to say from time to time – after all, the paper has a constituency to represent (one whose political views I do find hard to understand, particularly in light of the failure of Communism towards the end of the preceding century), and it represents that political cohort consistently and well. But now is a particularly good time to check out their site – well, if you’re comfortable reading French. For while the national powers-that-be might want to give off an impression that the demonstrations are petering out, with maybe a little police intervention here and there mainly to unblock the oil refineries, this Communist paper gives quite a different view, with its headline article at the present time a bona fide hour-by-hour, blow-by-blow listing of various violent demonstrator-police confrontations happening throughout the country.

Typical is this account of such a confrontation at an industrial-zone near the Northern French city of Amiens, which apparently doesn’t even have any sort of refinery facility (but was at the center of violence of a different sort almost a century ago when it was on the front lines of the Western Front during World War I). From L’Humanité correspondent Jean-Marie Faucillon:

The forces of repression were sent to the industrial zone north of Amiens, on Thursday, 21 October at 23.00 hours, to brutally charge the demonstrators. . . . The charge was brutal with the firing-off of tear-gas at more than 100 meters, whereupon the demonstrators left the premises. “It’s truly a punitive expedition,” declared an official for the Somme departmental [i.e. local] union of the CGT [that’s the Communist-run trade union confederation].

But that’s not all! Attached to that piece with a link is a picture-series of the late-night confrontation. To be sure, there’s nothing nice and bloody here that would draw those interested in that sort of thing away from their World Wrestling Federation TV broadcasts, but it’s interesting to see the policemen marching up along the highway, and in the later pictures there is certainly a thick fog of what must be tear-gas seemingly everywhere.

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