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Tens of thousands take to the streets of France to demand ‘freedom, equality and dignity’

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Issue 2710
Marching against racism in France
Marching against racism in France (Pic: Marche des solidarités)

Big, militant anti-racist marches took place in several cities across France last Saturday.

The organisers of the Paris march said 50,000 took. They added, “Today’s mobilisation has shown that the fight is launched and it will not stop—for full status for migrants, for freedom, equality and dignity.”

People also marched in Rennes and Lille despite police bans.

There is growing anger over the killing of a delivery driver who died after being arrested in Paris in January. He pleaded “I’m suffocating” several times as police held him to the ground.

Footage has emerged of  Cedric Chouviat saying he could not breathe seven times in 22 seconds as officers pinned him to the ground.

Four police officers are being questioned for “involuntary homicide” over the case that echoes the death of George Floyd in the US .

Police said they stopped Chouviat on his scooter after claiming he was looking at his mobile phone and had a dirty licence plate. Officers say he was disrespectful and abusive.

A postmortem concluded he had died from asphyxia, having sustained a “fracture of the larynx”.

None of the police officers has been suspended


Meanwhile, the government is under pressure over the violent arrest of nurse Farida C on a health workers’ protest last week.

A widely-shared video showed her being grabbed by cops after she had thrown a few stones at police lines. Three riot police press her face into the ground before taking her away with her face bleeding.

Various right wing figures suggested she was only impersonating a health worker. 

But her daughter, a journalist for France24 news, tweeted, “Fifty years old, a nurse, she has worked for three months for between 12 and 14 hours a day. She caught coronavirus. 

“Today, she protested so that she gets the wages she deserves.”

Farida has now been charged with “rebellion,” “insulting police” and violence. 

But there is a big campaign to have the charges dropped.

Greek health workers strike for funding

Health workers in Greece staged a national strike on Tuesday of last week against understaffing and underfunding.

The strikers—members of the doctors’ and health workers’ unions—demanded permanent contracts for temporary workers.

Strikers marched through Athens for a national strike demonstration, joined by supporters and members of other trade unions.

Greek health workers also struck in May and protested outside hospitals in April to demand more funding during the coronavirus pandemic.

The strikes come after more than a decade of austerity enforced by governments including the Tory-type New Democracy party and the once-radical Syriza.

Marina Oikonomou, a nurse from the Agios Savvas hospital in Athens, said, “The strike today is for the whole of health. We need recruitment, money and upgrading.

“The cuts in recent years have weakened the health service and its employees. 

“Health sector support must come first. No more privatisation—it is the most dangerous thing for the whole society.”

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