europe

French minister urges tear gas against Yellow Vests

Local newspaper says tear gas injured 69 people since protests erupted in November

Munira Abdelmenan Awel  | 18.01.2019
French minister urges tear gas against Yellow Vests

By Yusuf Ozcan

PARIS

French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner proposed on Friday to allow police to use tear gas to ensure public order in the wake of Yellow Vest protests which have rocked the country since November.

In a statement, he argued that more people will be injured when police does not use tear gas.

Jacques Toubon, public rights defender, requested the government on Thursday to prohibit the use of dangerous weapons, including rubber bullets, stun grenades and gas canisters, by police on demonstrators.

According to local newspaper Liberation, 69 people were injured due to tear gas of which 14 lost an eye.

Thousands of protesters wearing bright yellow vests -- dubbed the Yellow Vests -- initially gathered in major French cities, including Paris, to protest controversial fuel tax hike and the deteriorating economic situation.

Demonstrators held protests blocking roads and also the entrances and exits to gas stations and factories across the country. Police responded with teargas and water cannons.

The protesters, who generally live in rural areas due to high rents in the cities, demanded that the government cut fuel taxes and ease their economic difficulties.

Under pressure, President Emmanuel Macron announced a rise in the minimum wage and scuttled the tax hike.

Since then, however, the protests have grown into a broader movement aimed at tackling income inequality and are calling for giving citizens a stronger voice in government decision-making.

At least 10 people have died, more than 5,600 others have been detained and in excess of 1,700 others have been injured in the protests.

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