Opinions

  • An incendiary government

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    President Emmanuel Macron speaking to 600 mayors at Souillac in south-west France, January 18th 2019. © Reuters President Emmanuel Macron speaking to 600 mayors at Souillac in south-west France, January 18th 2019. © Reuters

    The fabricated claim that the Pitié-Salpêtrière hospital in Paris was attacked by protestors during the traditional May Day demonstrations was a lie too far by a government that denies the reality of its own unpopularity, writes Mediapart’s publishing editor Edwy Plenel. Its downward authoritarian spiral, he argues, is making it an accomplice in the destruction of democratic ethics.

  • 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.

  • French protests: the urgent need to ban use of maiming 'crowd control' weapons

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    A 'yellow vest' protestor lies injured in Paris, January 12th 2019. © Reuters A 'yellow vest' protestor lies injured in Paris, January 12th 2019. © Reuters

    France’s ‘yellow vest’ protestors were back on the streets this weekend, as their movement calling for better living standards for low- and middle-income earners held its tenth nationwide day of action. While some demonstrations have been marred by violence from extremist groups, there is mounting criticism of aggressive police tactics. These notably include the widespread and often indiscriminate use of rubber bullets and stun grenades that have caused, according to several estimations, around 100 serious and life-changing injuries to protestors and bystanders. Mediapart co-editor Carine Fouteau argues here why these highly dangerous weapons, which France is one of very few countries to deploy in such situations, should be immediately banned from crowd-control policing.

  • Carlos Ghosn: the contrast between severity in Japan and impunity in France

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    The case of the arrest and continued detention in Japan of Renault chairman and CEO Carlos Ghosn over alleged financial misconduct has revealed the severity of the Japanese judicial system, which again denied him bail at a hearing in Tokyo this week. But it has also illustrated the situation of impunity granted in France to numerous high-placed individuals like Ghosn, writes Mediapart co-founder Laurent Mauduit in this opinion article. For while it now appears that the French government is finally moving towards his replacement as head of the French carmaker, economy and finance minister Bruno Le Maire has until now done his utmost to protect Ghosn, even declaring that there was ‘nothing in particular to report’ on his tax situation in France, when in fact the boss of one of France's biggest industrial corporations has been a tax resident in the Netherlands since 2012.

  • 'Yellow vests': government violence is stoking violence in the country

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    A work by artist Pascal Boyart, alias PBOY, in homage to the 'yellow vests', on the walls of Paris, January 7th 2019. © Reuters A work by artist Pascal Boyart, alias PBOY, in homage to the 'yellow vests', on the walls of Paris, January 7th 2019. © Reuters

    On Monday January 7th the French prime minster Édouard Philippe announced plans to boost the array of security powers at the state's disposal with, in particular, a new law against rioters and undeclared demonstrations, plus preventative targeting of protestors presumed to be violent. Mediapart publishing editor Edwy Plenel points out that the prime minister did not utter a word about police violence, demonstrating that in making this repressive decision the government has turned its back on the sometimes vague democratic demands made by the 'yellow vest' protestors.

  • The 'gilets jaunes' protests: the battle for equality

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    The Arc de Triomphe,December 1st, 2018. © Karl Laske The Arc de Triomphe,December 1st, 2018. © Karl Laske

    The revolt of the 'gilets jaunes', the protesters whose symbol is their yellow hi-vis jackets, is aimed against tax injustice and arbitrary behaviour by the French state. What drives it is that which lies at the heart of of all emancipatory struggles: the demand for equality. Mediapart publishing editor Edwy Plenel argues that its political future will depend on its willingness to embrace common cause with others movements who are advocating equality for all.

  • In saving migrants we save ourselves

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    Migrants blocked at the railway station at Vintimille on the French-Italian border, June 15th, 2015. © LF Migrants blocked at the railway station at Vintimille on the French-Italian border, June 15th, 2015. © LF

    The migrant issue has become a decisive test for all those on the Left who campaign for the emancipation of the people and equal rights for all. Mediapart publishing editor Edwy Plenel argues that far from protecting existing rights, any concession to the politics of rejection, to the favouring of one nationality over others or to policies based on borders and identity, will simply help the cause of the extreme right.

  • At last the truth about France's use of torture in Algeria

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    Maurice Audin, tortured and murdered by the French military. © DR Maurice Audin, tortured and murdered by the French military. © DR

    French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday issued a landmark statement officially recognising for the first time the systematic use of torture by French forces during the 1954-1962 Algerian war of independence. The admission was made alongside a letter presented to the widow of Maurice Audin, a 25-year-old mathematician and militant for Algerian independence who disappeared after his arrest by the French military in 1957, and who Macron acknowledged had died after he was tortured in detention. Mediapart publishing editor Edwy Plenel sets out here why the move is as historically significant as the recognition in 1995 by then president Jacques Chirac of the responsibility of France in the deportation of Jews to German death camps during WWII, and why it may herald a reconciliation of sorts after six decades of denial.               

  • The French presidential system: its courtiers and cretinous nature

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    After the resignation of his high-profile and popular environment minister – which exposed the gulf between the presidency and wider society – President Emmanuel Macron made a declaration and a decision which then widened that gap still further. The decision was the nomination of a close friend, the writer Philippe Besson, as France's consul general in Los Angeles. The declaration was his criticism of his own people as “Gauls who are resistant to change”. Mediapart publishing editor Edwy Plenel looks at what these recent episodes say about the state of France's outmoded presidential system.

  • Why Hulot's resignation is a salutary turning point

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    Nicolas Hulot addressing French parliament in September 2017. © Stéphane Mahé/Reuters Nicolas Hulot addressing French parliament in September 2017. © Stéphane Mahé/Reuters

    French environment minister Nicolas Hulot dramatically resigned from government on Tuesday, announcing his surprise decision during a live radio interview. Mediapart publishing editor Edwy Plenel argues here that it represents a salutary electroshock that highlights the impasse of economic policies leading to an ecological catastrophe, and also puts an end to the illusion that the will of a supposedly providential man alone can bring about a sudden turnaround in approach to environmental issues. Hulot’s resignation, he says, resonates as a call for society to mobilise itself in favour of a veritable political alternative.