Press TV, Paris
Exactly one week before the first round of the French election the embodiment of the past five years marched in Paris: Yellow Vests who were crippled, blinded and mutilated by police.
On every Saturday from November 2018 until June 2019 a national bloodletting took place on a scope which was unprecedented in recent Western history. The numbers are as staggering as the lack of Western condemnation for the French government: at least 11,000 arrests, 1,000 imprisoned, 5,000 protesters seriously hurt, 1,000 critically injured, scores maimed for life and 11 deaths.
Those who suffered the most say they don’t want to be forgotten when voters go to the ballot box. The huge phalanx of armed police which still accompany the Yellow Vests every Saturday kept their distance, while the mainstream media was not present at the protest almost at all.
Over 75% of cases involving hurt protesters are immediately dropped, without any court case or even an investigation. Punishment of police for mistreating Yellow Vest anti-government protesters has been almost non-existent. The Yellow Vests are routinely credited with an approval rating of 75%, an unheard of score in a country where perceptions of political corruption are commonplace.
The state-sponsored police brutality, combined with the so called “anti-Yellow Vest laws”, scared many into no longer attending public protests. President Emmanuel Macron is expected to win a close re-election, but the damage to France’s international reputation cannot be estimated.