GENEVA – Geneva Council for Human Rights and Justice GCHRJ called on the French government to respect the escalating popular protests in the country and to respond to its demands and allow people to have the right to demonstrate peacefully as guaranteed by international law.
On Saturday, thousands of so-called Yellow Jackets, named for the fluorescent road-safety vests that all French drivers must carry in their vehicles, converged on Paris for a second weekend to protest a rise in fuel taxes and to express general discontent with the fiscal burden in one of the most highly taxed states in Europe, where taxes represent over 45 percent of G.D.P.
GCHRJ expressed its concern over the inflexibility of the French President Emmanuel Macaron’s government to respond to the demands of the “yellow jackets” in protest against rising prices and to meet popular demands.
The Human Rights Council highlighted the toll of two dead and 620 civilians and 136 members of the security forces injured since the start of the protests, which started mainly to protest against the high price of fuel, but quickly widened to include the tax system as a whole and the decline in purchasing power and turned into a non-political wave with divergent trends and demands fall within the context of the French tradition of tax protests.
The move, which brings together Frenchmen from all political trends and social strata, denounces gasoline prices, rising taxes and low pensions, largely reflecting a major protest, the decline in purchasing power. Which is confirmed by a study conducted by the “French Observatory of economic conditions,” indicating that the annual income of French families fell by 440 euros between 2008 and 2016.
Geneva Council for Human Rights and Justice criticized the use of tear gas and water cannons in Paris by police to disperse demonstrators in the Yellow Jackets movement.
It stressed the responsibility of the French legal government to stay away from politicizing popular demonstrations and trying to change its objectives under security arguments and to act immediately to respond to the demands of protesters and support their peaceful movement.
The council noted that the “yellow jackets” movement, which managed to collect more than 270 thousand people last Saturday without having a political or union leader, opens a new chapter in France’s long history in the tax protests.
GCHRJ considered that this new popular rule falls within the context of a tradition of spontaneous rebellion against government policies, which requires the French government to work hard to respond to the demands of the protests and not to try to silence them.