Life in the time of Brexit: an English village divided

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The village of Widdington in Essex, eastern England, April 2019. © AP The village of Widdington in Essex, eastern England, April 2019. © AP

In the well-heeled village of Widdington in rural Essex in eastern England, the residents are in a state of inner turmoil. Like the rest of the country this small community is pondering the issue of Brexit – which now faces a new deadline of the end of October 2019 – with passionate, engaging and ultimately irreconcilable arguments. Antoine Perraud reports.

French university fee hike for non-EU nationals passes into law

The plan to hike fees led to student protests through the winter, like this one close to the Sorbonne. © FZ The plan to hike fees led to student protests through the winter, like this one close to the Sorbonne. © FZ

The French government’s planned hike of university fees for students from countries outside the EU was officialised in a decree published this Easter weekend. Beginning with the 2019-2020 academic year, it bumps up the cost of bachelor’s and master’s degree courses from several hundred euros to several thousand. Those mostly affected by the move are students from African countries, who make up just under half of the 340,000 foreign students in higher education in France.

The forgotten wartime persecution of France's 'nomads'

By Pierre-Yves Bulteau
The site today of the camp de la Forge at Moisdon-la-Rivière, in north-west France. © PYB The site today of the camp de la Forge at Moisdon-la-Rivière, in north-west France. © PYB

The shameful mass internment of gypsies in camps across France between 1940 and 1946 remained a largely forgotten wartime episode until it finally received official recognition three years ago. Later this month, as part of that process, a ceremony will take place in homage to those who were placed in one of the camps, at Moisdon-la-Rivière in north-west France, where some died from the dire conditions. Pierre-Yves Bulteau traces the history of the persecution, and interviews survivors and witnesses of the horrors at the camp for "nomads" at Moisdon-la-Rivière.

First they came for Assange...

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A demonstration in supporrt of Julian Assange held in Quito, the capital of Ecuador, on October 31st 2018. © Reuters A demonstration in supporrt of Julian Assange held in Quito, the capital of Ecuador, on October 31st 2018. © Reuters

The fate of Julian Assange, just like that of Chelsea Manning or Edward Snowden, represents a far bigger issue than that of him as an individual, writes Mediapart’s publishing editor Edwy Plenel in this opinion article. Whatever Assange’s personal faults or mistakes, he argues, the move for his extradition to the US is about making an example of him to others because he had the audacity to challenge the powers that be with the weapon of the right to know.

The war in Yemen: France's hidden role in a vast humanitarian tragedy

By Disclose
A Saudi army display of French-made CAESAR howitzers (left of picture), one of the most lethal artillery weapons in existence. © DR A Saudi army display of French-made CAESAR howitzers (left of picture), one of the most lethal artillery weapons in existence. © DR

An unprecedented leak of secret documents from France’s military intelligence agency, the DRM, has revealed the massive use of French-made weapons, like those also of the US, the UK and Germany, in the ongoing civil war in Yemen. The contents of the leaked documents are detailed here in three exclusive reports published simultaneously by Mediapart and its partner Disclose, a newly founded independent, not-for-profit online magazine of investigative journalism, which reports how these weapons have been used against the civilian population in a war that has wreaked what the United Nations describe as “one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world”.

Yemen: the war of starvation

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Relief organisations estimate that over the past four years around 85,000 Yemeni children have died from hunger or illness. © Reuters Relief organisations estimate that over the past four years around 85,000 Yemeni children have died from hunger or illness. © Reuters

Weapons sold by France to the Saudi-led coalition offensive against the Houthi rebellion in Yemen are being used to starve millions of the country’s population, a strategy the United Nations has described as a method of warfare that “may constitute a war crime”.

Yemen: the secret French arms shipments

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Amid the ongoing war in Yemen, France continued to supply weapons to, and also signed new contracts with, Saudi Arabia, all of it behind a veil of secrecy.

India's Modi faces new 'corruption' allegations over French fighter deal

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Éric Trappier, CEO of Dassault Aviation, standing on a Rafale jet fighter at the Le Bourget airshow near Paris in 2015. © Dassault Éric Trappier, CEO of Dassault Aviation, standing on a Rafale jet fighter at the Le Bourget airshow near Paris in 2015. © Dassault

As India heads into tightly fought general elections on Thursday, outgoing Prime Minister Narendra Modi has become further engulfed in a suspected corruption scandal surrounding the sale by France to India of 36 Rafale fighter jets, built by French group Dassault Aviation, in a deal he signed in 2016. It emerged this weekend that, during negotiations over the contract, the French tax authorities extraordinarily wrote off a tax debt of more than 140 million euros owed by a French company belonging to Anil Ambani, an Indian businessman and friend of Modi’s, whose company was made industrial partner in the deal in questionable circumstances. Meanwhile, anti-corruption NGO Sherpa has submitted further information to the French public prosecution services over numerous “irregularities” that implicate the different parties in the contract, worth 7.7 billion euros.

How Mali's wanted jihadists are escaping justice

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“Sharia Square”in Gao, seen here in February 2013, where the occupying jihadists in 2012 carried out amputations in public. © Reuters “Sharia Square”in Gao, seen here in February 2013, where the occupying jihadists in 2012 carried out amputations in public. © Reuters

Since France’s military intervention in Mali in 2013 put an end to an offensive by Islamic extremists occupying the north of the country, and despite the subsequent UN peacekeeping mission to help stabilize the former French colony, it remains blighted by insecurity. Amid the continuing tensions, the government stands accused of a strategy of clemency towards senior jihadists who led a reign of terror during their occupation of the north. The vast majority of them have been allowed to escape justice, while the few who were placed in jail have been discretely freed, apparently in prisoner exchange deals. Rémi Carayol reports.

French parliamentarians' referendum bid to block privatisation of Paris airports

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In an unusual alliance of the Left and Right, a vast majority of French opposition parliamentarians have this week launched a demand for a national referendum over the government’s proposed privatisation of the Paris airports operator ADP. Such a move has never before been attempted, and must now be approved by the Constitutional Council. Martine Orange analyses the latest development in an increasingly strained relationship between parliament and the executive.

Why plans to cap top-up pensions for France's bosses are just for show

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Left to right: Carlos Ghosn, formerly of Renault, Tom Enders who is leaving Airbus and Thierry Pilenko of TechnipFMC. © Reuters Left to right: Carlos Ghosn, formerly of Renault, Tom Enders who is leaving Airbus and Thierry Pilenko of TechnipFMC. © Reuters

Over the years there have been repeated scandals about the lavish top-up pensions awarded to the bosses of some of France's biggest firms, most recently involving Renault, Airbus and energy industry engineering firm TechnicFMC. Now, in a bid to end such controversies, the government's finance minister Bruno Le Maire is promising legislation to restrict the level of these lucrative perks. But as Mediapart's Martine Orange reports, the measure already looks as if it will be little more than window dressing.

Mediapart takes French state to court over attempt to search offices in Benalla affair

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 © Reuters © Reuters

Mediapart is taking legal action against the French state for the attempt to search our offices over the so-called Benalla affair involving President Emmanuel Macron's former security aide Alexandre Benalla, writes Mediapart publishing editor Edwy Plenel. We are asking the courts to rule that by ordering this baseless, unfair and disproportionate action, the Paris prosecutor has made the French state liable for breaching the protection given to journalists to keep their sources secret, and for obstructing Mediapart's journalistic work.

'Yellow Vests' stage national meeting as movement faces 'turning point'

By Pierre-Yves Bulteau
The outside of the community centre at Saint-Nazaire. © PYB The outside of the community centre at Saint-Nazaire. © PYB

At the end of January 75 delegates from 'Yellow Vest' groups around France met at an 'assembly of assemblies' at Commercy in the north east of the country. From April 5th to 7th some 300 delegates will converge on a community centre in Saint-Nazaire in the west for a second such national assembly. The three-day gathering based on “exemplary fraternity” has required lots of last-minute local preparations and comes at what some describe as a key point in the protest movement's short life. Pierre-Yves Bulteau reports.

Musician rekindles interest in Cameroon independence hero killed by France

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Ruben Um Nyobè, centre, in dark glasses. © DR Ruben Um Nyobè, centre, in dark glasses. © DR

Ruben Um Nyobè is a symbolic figure in the story of anti-colonial resistance in Africa. A champion of independence in his native Cameroon, Nyobè was killed by the French army in 1958 after which France and its local allies sought to wipe him from the country's collective memory. In his latest album Cameroon musician Blick Bassy pays homage to Ruben Um Nyobè, his achievements and his personal struggle in an attempt to spark new interest in his life and writings. Fanny Pigeaud reports.

Documents show how Airbus arranged secret commissions over aircraft sales in Egypt

By and Virginie Le Borgne
Thomas Enders, left, and Louis Gallois were joint CEOs of Airbus between 2005 and 2007. © Reuters Thomas Enders, left, and Louis Gallois were joint CEOs of Airbus between 2005 and 2007. © Reuters

Secret documents obtained by Mediapart and German publication Der Spiegel show for the first time how Airbus gave direct orders to an intermediary to hand out 9.5 million euros in commissions to help clinch the sale of its aircraft in Egypt. This deal is now being examined by France's fraud prosecution unit and British fraud detectives who are carrying out a major investigation into alleged corruption by the giant European aircraft manufacturer. Yann Philippin and Virginie Le Borgne report.