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France Moves To Ban All Protests As PM Announces Major Crackdown On Yellow Vests

France is signaling it’s making preparations for a massive new crackdown on the gilets jaunes or “yellow vests” anti-government protests that have gripped the country for seven weeks. A new law under consideration could make any demonstration illegal to begin with if not previously approved by authorities, in an initiative already being compared to the pre-Maiden so-called “dictatorship law” in Ukraine.

In the name of reigning in the violence that has recently included torching structures along the prestigious Boulevard Saint Germain in Paris, and smashing through the gates of government ministry buildings, the French government appears set to enact something close to a martial law scenario prohibiting almost any protest and curtailing freedom of speech.

Fires set at structures along the famous Boulevard Saint Germain in Paris, France, January 5, 2019, via Reuters

PM Philippe said the government would support a “new law punishing those who do not respect the requirement to declare [protests], those who take part in unauthorized demonstrations and those who arrive at demonstrations wearing face masks”.

Philippe’s tone during the statements was one of the proverbial “the gloves are off” as he described the onus would be on “the troublemakers, and not taxpayers, to pay for the damage caused” to businesses and property.

“Those who question our institutions will not have the last word,” he added.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Protest ban? What protest ban?

Protest ban? What protest ban?

The crowd celebrates in Place de la Republique. by Danny Chivers/New Internationalist

The French government’s attempts to crack down on climate protesters have only made their voices louder, reports Danny Chivers.

Protest is currently banned in Paris. Any outdoor gathering of more than two people with a political message has been strictly prohibited under ‘state of emergency” government powers, following the 13 November terror attacks. Anyone taking part in an illegal demonstration could face fines of $3,972 or up to two months in prison.

The French government imposed the protest ban supposedly in the name of public safety, and yet – as campaigners have pointed out – large gatherings such as football matches and Christmas markets have been allowed to go ahead. Groups of people, it seems, only become hazardous when they have a political point to make. The government has seemed determined to use these powers freely, putting a number of climate campaigners under house arrest, raiding activist squats and attempting to prevent two separate bicycle convoys from reaching Paris.

So protest has been banned, which means if you thought you saw a protest today, you must have been mistaken. If you were at the park opposite the Bataclan at 9 o’clock this morning, where Indigenous peoples from North America and the South Pacific led songs, prayers and blessings for the lives lost in the Paris attacks, and also for the defence of Mother Earth against the extractive industries – well, that wasn’t a protest. It was a ceremony, so no problem there.

Then, at noon, if you happened to see ten thousand people forming a human chain along the pavement from Place de la République to Nation, holding banners and placards demanding climate justice – well, that can’t have been a protest either. Because, you know, protest is banned.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

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