Tag Archives: police violence

Yellow Vests in decline

With 7,000 protesters across the country on June 15, the participation of Yellow Vests in Act XXXI is in visible decline. Some clashes erupted in Toulouse, the demonstrations passed without major incidents in Paris and Bordeaux.

In total, there were some 7,000 demonstrators throughout the country, according to the Interior Ministry (against 10,300 last week, and 9,500 the previous one). Act XXXI marks the smallest national mobilization recorded since the beginning of the movement, on November 17 (280,000 people had then marched through the streets of the country), although the Yellow Vests dispute the official figures.

As for act XXX in Montpellier, a call had been launched on social networks to make Toulouse the “capital” national movement for that particular day.

More than a thousand people – “several hundred” according to the prefecture – have started up the cry of the usual slogans anti-Macron.

We were happily advancing, we were singing, and suddenly dozens of policemen rushed on us, tearing the banners and clubbing the protesters at the head of the procession,” said to French TV Bastien, one of the protesters, whith eyes red from tear gas.

The procession then dispersed under a thick cloud of tear gas in a few seconds. From then on, divided into several small groups, the protesters played all afternoon with the cat and the mouse with the police. They have also had massive use of water cannon and tear gas.

What do they want from us, why is there so much violence?” Mireille, a retired Yellow Vest.

The prefecture said two protesters were injured, and 17 were arrested.

Jagland raises concerns about journalist Golunov case




The Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Thorbj√łrn Jagland, has made the following statement with regard to the situation of investigative journalist Ivan Golunov in Russia:

“I am very much concerned and saddened by reports coming from Moscow alleging that investigative journalist Ivan Golunov was subjected to violence and injured by police forces while in custody in a Moscow police station.

Violence by police during investigation procedures is absolutely prohibited by Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights, to which the Russian Federation is party.

Moreover, the fact that Mr Golunov claims that evidence against him was manipulated raises even greater suspicion over the current situation.

Taking into account the particular gravity of the alleged facts, I call on the Minister of Interior of the Russian Federation, Mr Kolokoltsev, to personally address this situation.

I also hope that Human Rights Commissioner Moskalkova will look into these allegations.

Freedom of expression and the right to security are fundamental in a democratic society and law enforcement bodies must also defend these values.‚ÄĚ

Spokesperson of the European External Action Service also made a statement, underlining that the European Union relevant institutuios follows closely the case of journalist Godunov, arrested in Moscow.


British Forign Secretary Jeremy Hunt made a statement via his Twitter microblog on the arrest of Ivan Golunov. He also mentioned ‚Äúfear of retribution‚ÄĚ among ¬†negative effects on practice of investigative journalism in Russia in general.


According to Golunov’s lawyer Chikov claims his client suffered from police brutalty, being beaten at his arrival to custody. He added paramedics suspected Golunov had suffered broken ribs, bruising and a concussion, and that “police chiefs” were refusing his hospitalisation


Today the international organisation Reporters without borders (RSF) launched  mobiliseation to manifest in front of Russian Embassy in Paris, demanding liberation of Golunov, and dropping all charges against him.



RSF: press freedom declines

2019 World Press Freedom Index compiled by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) illustrates how hatred of journalists has degenerated into violence, contributing to an increase in fear. The number of countries regarded as safe, where journalists can work in complete security, continues to decline, while authoritarian regimes continue to tighten their grip on the media.

‚ÄúIf the political debate slides surreptitiously or openly towards a civil war-style atmosphere, in which journalists are treated as scapegoats, then democracy is in great danger,‚ÄĚ RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire said. ‚ÄúHalting this cycle of fear and intimidation is a matter of the utmost urgency for all people of good will who value the freedoms acquired in the course of history.‚ÄĚ

Norway is ranked first in the 2019 Index for the third year running while Finland (up two places) has taken second place from the Netherlands (down one at 4th), where two reporters who cover organized crime have had to live under permanent police protection. An increase in cyber-harassment caused Sweden (third) to lose one place.

Russia  went down one at 149th, where the Kremlin has used arrests, arbitrary searches and draconian laws to step up the pressure on independent media and the Internet.

At the bottom of the Index, both Vietnam (176th) and China (177th) have fallen one place, Eritrea (up 1 at 178th) is third from last, despite making peace with its neighboring Ethiopia, and Turkmenistan (down two at 180th) is now last, replacing North Korea (up one at 179th).

A considerable blow to the freedom of press was added in France: during the manifestations of Yellow Vests reporters were confronted with police violence.

Council of Europe urges to investigate Spanish police violence

The Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, Nils Muiznieks, urged Spanish home affairs minister, Jos√© Ignacio Zoido, to investigate Spain‚Äôs police actions during the October 1 referendum. In a letter sent on October 4 to the Spanish home affairs minister, Muiznieks called for an ‚Äúindependent and effective‚Ä̬†investigation into Spain‚Äôs police violence¬†which aimed to block the independence referendum.

The Commissioner also stressed that Spanish police use of force against voters was “disproportionate” and “unnecessary” and claimed that starting an investigation into police violence on referendum day should help to prevent an “escalation of tension and violence” and to preserve confidence in civil servants.

Zoido responded to the Commissioner on October 6. The Spanish home affairs minister stated that Spain‚Äôs police action was “cautious, appropriate and proportioned in order to ensure¬†compliance with the law¬†and the protection of the rights and freedoms of all citizens.”

Europarliament split on #Catalonia independence

Anna van Densky, Strasbourg.¬† The hearing on #Catalonia, October 4, could not be qualified as ‘debate’ in a proper sense of this word: the leaders of the European Parliament political groups, and¬† 1st vice-president of the European Commission, articulated their positions vis-√†-vis dramatic events, without an opportunity to debate it with fellow MEPs. However even this¬†abridged version was a victory of smaller political groups, pressing EPP – the centre right and¬† a biggest force in Europarliament¬† – to accept a public hearing,¬† according to Europe Diplomatic sources.

The 1st vice-president of European Commission Frans Timmermans defended position already coined¬† by his boss, Jean-Claude Juncker, qualifying #Catalanreferendum as an ‘internal matter’ of Spain, and under Kingdom’s Constitution ‘illegal’. The difference came in formatting, adding substantial number of the EU clich√©es, calling for dialog, and plea to restrain from ‘violence’ without mentioning upon whose orders it was committed. There was no condemnation of police brutality against Catalans, neither demands to bring responsible to justice. In some passages Timmerman’s speech sounded as echo of King’s Felipe address to nation, pointing at illegality of the vote, as a refrain: “street does not decide the future of a country,” without any hint on right for self-determination. The views Timmermans changed drastically as he used to be an active proponent of Maidan revolution in Kiev, insisting ‘vox populi vox Dei’.

Timmermans called Catalonia to “leave the path of confrontation and lead to dialogue”, exactly what¬†Carles Puigdemont¬†is looking for, but denied by Spanish government, responding with accusations, police brutality, arrests and court orders.

Traditionally the speech of Manfred¬† Weber, the leader of the EPP group, replicated the one of the Commission: “we¬†are sorry for those who was hurt”, “violence is never an answer”… EU has “no will, no right” to intervene in internal matters of such a liberal democracy as Spain…”Don’t take irreversible steps! (to Catalans)”.¬† However Weber’s message has been reaching further, delivering a warning to Catalans: you will be leaving EU, Schengen, eurozone… Weber’s views went through continuing¬†transformation¬†¬†from enthusiasm¬† over ‘peaceful revolutions’ in Eastern Europe to an ardent defender of laws, carved in stone in Catalan case:

The¬† Socialists & Democrats led by Gianni Pittella: “Please don’t declare independence unilaterally!” However no condemnation of police violence. And ‘crescendo’: “Nationalism means war”. According to Pittella Socialists if at power could change Constitution of Spain. He called police action “disproportionate,”¬† but in general the Socialists supported the EPP line on ‘illegality’ of referendum, and warned against consequences of unilateral declaration of independence.

The wave of criticism of Mariano Rajoy¬†government¬†came¬†from smaller political groups: EU is a Union of “selective values” said MEP prof.¬†Ryszard¬†Legutko,¬†a co-chair of¬†European Conservatives and Reformists group (ECR) directly pointing that if the event would have happened in a different member state, the reactions would be hasher. However triggering articles of treaties to summon Catalans would only polarise the debate.¬†Legutko¬†called the actions of government “appalling,” but it was a European Commission who got the most negative evaluation for “Esopian language”, “double-standards,” and “moralistic” inclinations, – the trends will not make the problem disappear.¬†Legutko¬†proposed Commission to mediate, but underlined it is up to Catalans to decide their future.

Ska Keller, MEP, co-chair of Greens, admitted Mariano Rajoy strategy of violence, and police brutality failed, and insisted on search of a political solution by Spanish government. Keller also proposed to European Commission to act, assessing Spanish crisis as European. However in spite of her repeated calls for dialogue, she admitted a right of self-determination of Catalans as stipulated by international law.

Marcel De Graaf,¬†the co-chair of the ENF group, was not short of words, castigating the hypocrisy and double-standards of the EU, interfering in member-states home affairs, dependent on the correlation with the European agenda. Among other examples of EU double standards, he reminded how President Juncker raised his concerns about EU worker’s rights in UK, but kept silence about police brutality in Catalonia.

Steven Woolfe, MEP, expressed his indignation over police brutality, he also blamed the EU double standards in dealing with human rights issues.  He reminded his fellow-MEPs and European Commission, that Kosovo did not have an agreed secession from Serbia.

MEP Ray Finch, EFDD, proposed the only viable and democratic way out of the crisis in organising a referendum for Catalans.