Yellow vest protestors hit French streets for 21st week

By Yusuf Ozcan

PARIS (AA) – Yellow Vest protestors on Saturday took to the streets across France, marking the 21st consecutive week of mass demonstrations against President Emmanuel Macron.

The protestors gathered at Republique Square and marched towards La Defense, a major business district outside Paris. Brief brawls erupted between police and the protestors.

According to French media, 43 people were arrested in Paris.

Eight protestors, including Yellow Vest movement's leader Eric Drouet, were fined for attempting to stage protest on Paris' Champs-Elysees Avenue. Last Saturday protests were banned on the street.

French interior ministry said that 22,300 people participated in Saturday's protests while yellow vests claimed this figure was 73,420.

In addition to Paris, protests were held in two northern cities of Rouen and Lille.

Yellow Vest protests began in November 2018 as a reaction to rising fuel costs, which later turned into deadly anti-government riots.

The protests have left 11 people dead and more than 2,000 injured, according to the French government.

Some 8,400 people have been arrested since the beginning of Yellow Vest protests and about 2,000 were remanded in custody.

France: Yellow Vest protests enter 20th week

By Yusuf Ozcan

PARIS (AA) – France's Yellow Vest protestors on Saturday again took to the streets of cities nationwide to protest the policies of President Emmanuel Macron.

The protests, which first started as a reaction against the rise in fuel prices and the economic condition on Nov. 17, 2018, continued under tight security measures.

Police responded to demonstrators, who threw bottles, with teargas.

The protestors were not allowed along Paris' iconic Champs-Elysees or in the city centers of Bordeaux, Toulouse, Saint-Etienne, Avignon and Rouen.

Security forces announced 32 protestors had been arrested so far, and 21 who defied the ban on the Champs-Elysees were fined.

Two people were slightly injured during tensions with the police in demonstration away from Avignon’s city center.

Eight protestors were arrested in Montpellier, while two police officers were injured. Three others, including two police officers, were also injured in Toulouse.

According to the Interior Ministry figures, 33,700 protestors, including 4,000 in Paris, took place in nationwide demonstrations on Saturday.

Yellow Vest protests began four months ago as a reaction to rising fuel costs. However, the demonstrations later turned into anti-government riots.

The protests have left 11 people dead and more than 2,000 injured, according to the French government.

Some 8,400 people have been arrested for the protests and 2,000 got prison sentences.

  • Writing by Sena Guler

Paris court fines Yellow Vest protest leader

             By Yusuf Ozcan</p>  <p>PARIS (AA) – A Paris court sentenced a Yellow Vest leader €2,000 ($2,240) on Friday for organizing two unauthorized protests, according to local reports.</p>  <p>Eric Drouet was found guilty of organizing the protests last December and this January.</p>  <p>Drouet's lawyer, Kheops Lara, told the press he would appeal the court's decision.</p>  <p>Drouet, a 34-year-old transport driver, and nearly 50 activists had gathered at Concorde Square, near Paris's Champs-Elysees, to commemorate those who were killed and injured on Jan. 2.</p>  <p>Shortly afterwards, police detained Drouet along with other activists on the grounds that the demonstration was unauthorized.</p>  <p>Drouet was also detained last December.</p>  <p>Earlier, prosecutors opened an investigation into Drouet for allegedly encouraging protestors to damage the Elysee Palace. </p>  <p>On Feb. 14, the European Parliament passed a resolution condemning French authorities’ use of disproportionate violence against peaceful protests.</p>  <p>Since last November, thousands of protesters wearing bright yellow vests -- dubbed the Yellow Vests -- have gathered in major French cities to protest French President Emmanuel Macron's controversial fuel tax hikes and the deteriorating economic situation.</p>  <p>Under pressure, Macron announced a rise in the minimum wage and scuttled the tax hikes.</p>  <p>The protests grew into a broader movement aimed at tackling income inequality and are calling for giving citizens a stronger voice in government decision-making.</p>  <p>In the protests, at least 11 people died, around 8,400 were detained, and over 2,000 were injured, and subsequently nearly 1,800 got prison sentences.</p>  <p>*Writing by Dilara Hamit from Ankara

French PM urges public order amid Yellow Vest protests

By Yusuf Ozcan

PARIS (AA) – French prime minister on Monday said his government is determined to maintain the public order in the country.

Edouard Philippe called for the end of violence in the Yellow Vest demonstrations during his visit to four police officers attacked by Yellow Vest protestors on Saturday in Paris.

Philippe said he distinguishes between those who resort to violence and those who have peaceful demands in the demonstrations.

He also stressed that the more the protests continue, the more it turns radicalized.

On Saturday, the protestors attacked and threw stones at four policemen at the Champs-Elysees during the demonstrations.

  • Protests

Some 38,600 people took part in nationwide protests on Saturday — with at least 2,000 protestors in the capital Paris — according to the interior ministry, while around 66,000 people demonstrated a week earlier.

Yellow Vest protests, which started as a reaction to fuel tax hikes and evolved into an uprising against French President Emmanuel Macron, continue despite the government’s call to halt it.

Since Nov. 17, thousands of protesters wearing bright yellow vests — dubbed the Yellow Vests — have gathered in major French cities, including the capital Paris, to protest Macron's controversial fuel tax hikes and the deteriorating economic situation.

At least 10 people were killed, over 4,500 were detained and more than a thousand others wounded in the protests.

UPDATE 2 – France: Police arrest 85 Yellow Vest protesters

                               UPDATES WITH NUMBER OF ARRESTS, ONE INJURED; PROTESTS IN BELGIUM, NETHERLANDS</p>    <p>By Yusuf Ozcan and Hasan Esen</p>    <p>PARIS (AA) - French police on Saturday arrested 95 Yellow Vest protesters in the capital Paris, according to local media reports.</p>    <p>Yellow Vest protests, which started as a reaction to fuel tax hikes and evolved into an uprising against French President Emmanuel Macron, continues on Saturday despite the government’s call to halt it.</p>    <p>Earlier, local state broadcaster France info reported that at least 25 people were arrested in Paris on Saturday ahead of the planned protests.</p>    <p>The number of people arrested last week during same hours was over 500.</p>    <p>On Thursday, Maxime Nicolle, one of the prominent figures of the Yellow Vest movement, said they will hold protests despite the government's calls to stop after Strasbourg shooting.</p>    <p>The protesters gathered on the Champs-Elysees and the Opera Square once again in the fifth weekends of the demonstrations.</p>    <p>Sometimes tension escalates between the police and protesters, who are less in number compared to past weeks.

One protester got his eye injured, when a teargas capsule hit him, according to some protesters, and he was referred to a hospital.

The French police used teargas to disperse the crowd, who spread to streets near the Champs-Elysees.

Stores and restaurants on the iconic street are closed, with many metro lines are out of service due to the protests.

Police said that around 16,000 people have attended protests across the country so far, and streets and roads were blocked 199 times.

A total of 89,000 police officers are on duty in the country, 8,000 of which are in Paris together with 14 armored vehicles.

  • Protests in Belgium, Netherlands

Meanwhile, a group of Yellow Vest protesters also gathered in Belgium’s capital city of Brussels, and called on Prime Minister Charles Michel to resign.

Around 70 protesters marched through the square in front of the European Parliament, amid tight security measures.

According to security sources, around 50 Yellow Vest protesters were held in the morning in Brussels.

Also in the Netherlands, Yellow Vest protesters took to the streets in 16 cities, including the capital Amsterdam, the Hague and Rotterdam, upon calls made on social media by far-right groups.

They protested against the government's policies on retirement age, costly health and education services and migration issue.

Since Nov. 17, thousands of protesters wearing bright yellow vests — dubbed the Yellow Vests — have been gathering in major French cities, including the capital Paris, to protest Macron's controversial fuel tax hikes and the deteriorating economic situation.

The demonstrators, who generally live in rural areas due to high rents in the cities, have called on Macron to cut fuel taxes and ease their economic difficulties.

During demonstrations, at least four people have been killed and more than a thousand others wounded.

President Macron said that taxes on overtime pay would be abolished as of next year and announced social security tax cuts for pensioners earning less than €2,000.

However, the protesters have found President Macron's statement "insufficient."

France: Police arrest 85 Yellow Vest protesters

                               UPDATES WITH TOTAL NUMBER OF ARRESTS</p>    <p>By Yusuf Ozcan and Hasan Esen</p>                    <p>PARIS (AA) - French police on Saturday arrested 85 Yellow Vest protesters in the capital Paris, according to local media reports.</p>    <p>Yellow Vest protests, which started as a reaction to fuel tax hikes and evolved into an uprising against French President Emmanuel Macron, continues on Saturday despite the government’s call to halt it.</p>    <p>Earlier, local state broadcaster France info reported that at least 25 people were arrested in Paris on Saturday ahead of the planned protests.</p>    <p>The number of people arrested last week during same hours was over 500.</p>    <p>On Thursday, Maxime Nicolle, one of the prominent figures of the Yellow Vest movement, said they will hold protests despite the government's calls to stop after Strasbourg shooting.</p>    <p>The protesters gathered on the Champs-Elysees and the Opera Square once again in the fifth weekends of the demonstrations.</p>    <p>Sometimes tension escalates between the police and protesters, who are less in number compared to past weeks. </p>  <p>The French police use pepper gas to disperse the crowd, who are spread to streets near Champs-Elysees.</p>    <p>Stores and restaurants on the iconic street are closed, many metro lines are out of service due to the protests.</p>    <p>Police said that around 16,000 people have attended protests across the country so far, and streets and roads were blocked 199 times.</p>    <p>A total of 89,000 police officers are on duty in the country, 8,000 of which are in Paris together with 14 armored vehicles.</p>    <p>Since Nov. 17, thousands of protesters wearing bright yellow vests -- dubbed the Yellow Vests -- have been gathering in major French cities, including the capital Paris, to protest Macron's controversial fuel tax hikes and the deteriorating economic situation.</p>    <p>The demonstrators, who generally live in rural areas due to high rents in the cities, have called on Macron to cut fuel taxes and ease their economic difficulties.</p>  <p>During demonstrations, at least four people have been killed and more than a thousand others wounded.</p>  <p>President Macron said that taxes on overtime pay would be abolished as of next year and announced social security tax cuts for pensioners earning less than €2,000.</p>    <p>However, the protesters have found President Macron's statement &quot;insufficient.&quot;<br> 

UPDATE 3 – French police use pepper spray against Yellow Vests

UPDATES WITH POLICE ACTION AGAINST PROTESTERS IN BRUSSELS

By Serife Cetin and Yusuf Ozcan

PARIS / BRUSSELS (AA) – French police used pepper spray against Yellow Vest protesters along the Champs-Elysees in the capital Paris on Saturday.

The Yellow Vests, protesting rising oil prices and deteriorating economic conditions, started to gather on the iconic avenue on early Saturday.

The police allowed the protesters onto the street after doing security searches.

During Saturday's protests, the tension between demonstrators and the police sometimes flared up.

Meanwhile, French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said at least 481 people have been arrested so far during Yellow Vest protests on Saturday.

Philippe added that 211 people have been remanded in custody.

Meanwhile, police in Brussels, Belgium, home to NATO and EU institutions, arrested around over 100 protesters ahead of and during the Yellow Vest protests.

Ilse Van de Keere, a police spokesperson, said that arrests were carried out around the Brussels central train station and the Schuman area.

Police in Brussels took tight security measures in the city center and the area where the EU Commission and Council are located.

Security forces in Brussels shunted Yellow Vest protesters onto side streets after the protesters blocked a tunnel between Turkey's Permanent Delegation to the EU and the U.S. Embassy.

Some protesters forced passengers going through the tunnel to wear or display the iconic yellow vests, which are supposed to be kept in vehicles’ trunks for emergency situations, according to Anadolu Agency reporters on site.

UPDATE – French police use pepper spray against Yellow Vests

UPDATES WITH NUMBER OF ARRESTED

By Serife Cetin and Yusuf Ozcan

PARIS (AA) – French police used pepper spray against Yellow Vest protesters along the Champs-Elysees in the capital Paris on Saturday.

The Yellow Vests, protesting rising oil prices and deteriorating economic conditions, started to come to the iconic avenue on early Saturday.

The police allowed the protesters onto the street after doing body searches.

During Saturday's protests, the tension between demonstrators and the police flared up from time to time.

Meanwhile, French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said at least 481 people have been arrested so far during Yellow Vest protests on Saturday.

France: 32 people arrested ahead of Yellow Vest protests

By Yusuf Ozcan

PARIS (AA) – At least 32 people were arrested in Paris ahead of planned Yellow Vest protests which started in mid-November forcing the government to scrap plans to raise fuel prices, local media reported on Saturday.

According to French media, 121 people were taken to police centers and 32 of them were arrested as police found out they were carrying stones and hammers.

Protesters wearing bright yellow vests –dubbed the Yellow Vests– are gathering at the famous Champs-Elysees avenue where stores, restaurants and banks were shut down as precaution against possible violence.

Security measures have been tightened in Paris ahead of the demonstrations. Dozens of armored vehicles and 89,000 troops –including 8,000 in Paris– will be on duty.

Some museums are also closed on Saturday. The Eiffel Tower’s management announced on its Twitter account that it will remain closed to the public Saturday due to demonstrations and visitors will be automatically refunded.

Thousands of yellow vest protesters have been gathering in major French cities including Paris since Nov. 17 to protest President Emmanuel Macron's controversial fuel tax hikes and the deteriorating economic situation in France.

The demonstrators, who generally live in rural areas due to high rents in the cities, called on Macron to cut fuel taxes and make economic arrangements to ease their lives.

At least three people have died during the riots while 1,043 others have been injured, including 222 members of the security forces. As many as 1,424 people have been arrested.

According to a recent survey, 84 percent of the French people — mostly from the middle-income group — support the protests.

Fuel prices in France have risen more than 20 percent this year.

France braces for more violence over high living costs

            By Yusuf Ozcan</p>  <p>PARIS (AA) – At least 89,000 police officers will be deployed across France amid fears of violence during anti-government protests this weekend. </p>  <p>Some 8,000 police officers will be on duty in Paris and armored vehicles will also be deployed, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe told French television station TF1 Thursday.</p>  <p>&quot;We face people who do not come to protest but to destroy,&quot; he said.</p>  <p>Shops and restaurants on Paris's Champs-Elysees and some museums will also be closed. </p>  <p>The Eiffel Tower’s management announced on its Twitter account that it will remain closed to the public Saturday due to demonstrations and visitors will be automatically refunded.</p>  <p>Thousands of &quot;yellow vest&quot; protesters have been gathering in major French cities including Paris since Nov. 17 to protest President Emmanuel Macron's controversial fuel tax hikes and the deteriorating economic situation in France.</p>  <p>The demonstrators, who generally live in rural areas due to high rents in the cities, called on Macron to cut fuel taxes and make economic arrangements to ease their lives.</p>  <p>Philippe announced Tuesday that France would delay fuel tax increases for six months and the suspension would also apply to increases in gas and electricity prices.</p>  <p> The government abandoned the fuel tax hikes the following day.</p>  <p>“The government is ready for dialogue and is showing it because this tax increase has been dropped from the 2019 budget bill,” Philippe said in a speech at the National Assembly,  or lower house of parliament.</p>  <p>At least three people have died during the riots while 1,043 others have been injured, including 222 members of the security forces. As many as 1,424 people have been arrested.</p>  <p>According to a recent survey, 84 percent of the French people -- mostly from the middle-income group -- support the protests.</p>  <p>Fuel prices in France have risen more than 20 percent this year.