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France fears further protestsFrance fears further protests

first_imgPeople are at work to build a wooden wall aimed at protecting the shop window of store, on 7 December 2018 on the Champs-Elysees in Paris, on the eve of a fourth wave of `yellow vests` anti-government protests. Last Saturday`s riots in Paris, where the Arc de Triomphe war memorial was sacked, dozens of cars torched and shops looted, were the worst in decades, plunging president Emmanuel Macron`s government into a deep crisis. Photo: AFPBusinesses in Paris battened down the hatches on Friday and streets were cleared of material that could be used as weapons amid fears of further violence during a fourth round of “yellow vest” protests.The French capital experienced its worst riots in decades last weekend, plunging president Emmanuel Macron’s government into its deepest crisis so far.The Arc de Triomphe war memorial was sacked, dozens of cars torched and shops looted by the radical fringe of a three-week-old rebellion over taxes and inequality.Interior minister Christophe Castaner on Friday vowed “zero tolerance” towards those aiming to wreak further destruction and mayhem during a new round of protests set for Saturday.”These past three weeks have seen the birth of a monster that has escaped its creators,” Castaner told a news conference, adding: “It’s time now for dialogue.”Shops around the famous Champs-Elysees boulevard — epicentre of last week’s battle — were busy boarding up their windows and emptying them of merchandise on Friday.”We can’t take the risk,” said a manager at a Ducati motorcycle dealership as employees loaded luxury Italian racers onto trucks for safekeeping.The operators of leading museums and landmarks, including the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, Louvre and Musee d’Orsay all said they would be closed on Saturday, along with department stores, operas, theatres and libraries.Foreign governments are watching developments closely.The US embassy issued a warning to Americans in Paris to “keep a low profile and avoid crowds”, a warning echoed by the Turkish foreign ministry for Turkish travellers.The Belgian foreign ministry advised Belgians planning to visit Paris over the weekend to postpone their visit.- School pupils rounded up -Macron this week gave in to some of the protesters’ demands for measures to help the poor and struggling middle classes, including scrapping a planned increase in fuel taxes and freezing electricity and gas prices in 2019.But the “yellow vests”, who have become increasingly radicalised, are holding out for more.The government has vowed a tough response in the event of further trouble.Calls on social media for protesters to attack the police or march on the presidential palace have particularly rattled the authorities.Prime minister Edouard Philippe said 8,000 police would be deployed in Paris out of 89,000 nationwide, and that a dozen armoured vehicles would be stationed around the capital — a first.The police were already facing accusations Friday of being heavy-handed.A video showed officers in riot gear barking orders at dozens of high-school pupils kneeling on the ground with their hands behind their heads following a demonstration in Mantes-la-Jolie near Paris.”Whatever wrong was done, nothing justifies this filmed humiliation of minors,” Socialist leader Olivier Faure tweeted.- ‘Not the people’ -The “yellow vests”, named after the high-visibility safety jackets worn by demonstrators, began blocking roads, fuel depots and shopping centres around France on 17 November over fuel price hikes.Since then the movement has snowballed into a wider revolt against Macron’s economic policies and his top-down approach to power.Protests at dozens of schools over stricter university entrance requirements, and a call by farmers for demonstrations next week, have added to a sense of a government under siege.Opposition parties, particularly on the far right and radical left, have sought to capitalise on the protests to try to bring about Macron’s downfall.The protesters accuse the centrist president of favouring the rich and city-dwellers over those trying to make ends meet in car-dependent rural and small-town France.Many are calling on him to resign.Castaner on Friday estimated the number of people still taking part in demonstrations at 10,000 nationwide.”10,000 is not the people, it’s not France,” he argued, despite polls showing the protesters enjoying strong public support.- Macron’s silence -Macron’s “cardinal sin”, in the eyes of the protesters, was to slash wealth taxes shortly after taking office.The 40-year-old former investment banker, dubbed “the president of the rich” by critics, has so far ruled out re-imposing the “fortune tax” on high-earners, arguing it is necessary to boost investment and create jobs.But his climbdown on fuel taxes — intended to help France transition to a greener economy — marks a major departure for a leader who had prided himself on not giving into street protests.Prime minister Edouard Philippe has signalled a willingness to make further concessions.Macron himself has not commented publicly on the crisis since his return from the G20 summit in Argentina a week ago.Parliament speaker Richard Ferrand said the president did not want to “add fuel to the fire” in the run-up to Saturday’s demonstrations.He is expected to address the protests in a speech early next week.last_img

Bangladesh wont repatriate any Rohingya by forceBangladesh wont repatriate any Rohingya by force

first_imgForeign minister AK Abdul MomenForeign minister AK Abdul Momen on Thursday said Bangladesh does not want to do anything by force and laid emphasis on removing trust-deficit among Rohingyas who refused to return to their homeland, reports UNB. “It’s regrettable… what else you can do!” the foreign minister said while talking to a small group of reporters at his office. Momen said there is a trust-deficit among Rohingyas and reiterated Bangladesh’s call to take 100 “majhis” or Rohingya leaders to Rakhine State, and show them what measures and arrangements are taken to welcome Rohingyas to their own homes as they fear about their safety and security. The foreign minister said he is thinking about forming a commission with people from various countries to go and see the development in Rakhine and inspect whether peace and stability are prevailing there or not with required steps. “Myanmar should prove that development is there and peace is prevailing,” he said adding that Myanmar can also take journalists there to see the situation on the ground. Foreign minister Momen said Myanmar should come forward if they remain honest and should give access to Rakhine to see the situation there. Responding to a question about Rohingyas’ demands, the foreign minister said they cannot be hostage to their demands. “They (Rohingya) need to realise their demands by going back to their homes.” Momen said they were hoping that the repatriation would begin today (Thursday), at least on a small scale, but it’s yet to begin. “We’re still waiting with a high hope. Myanmar has created the problem and solution lies there, too. We don’t want to do anything by force,” he said adding that representatives of Myanmar, China and Bangladesh governments were present there. Responding to another question, the foreign minister said they will identify those distributing leaflets, supplying English-written signboards and carrying out campaigns encouraging Rohingyas not to return to Myanmar. “We’re identifying them,” he said adding that steps will be taken. He indicated about slower fund flow — both from locally and internationally — which might create problems for the Rohingyas though they are living a comfortable life now. “For their own better future, they should go back.” The foreign minister said their efforts will continue for voluntary and safe return of Rogingyas to their place of origin. Responding to a question, he said there are both positive and negative aspects of welcoming Rohingyas in 2017, and Myanmar did never say they will not take back their nationals. Despite all the preparations, no Rohingya turned up on Thursday to avail of the “voluntary” repatriation offer given to them to go back to their place of origin in Rakhine state of Myanmar prompting the authorities to suspend the repatriation process for the day. While briefing reporters, Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner Mohammad Abul Kalam said they interviewed the listed Rohingyas over the last couple of days and encouraged them to return to their homeland. But nobody did show up at Ghumdhum transit point on Thursday, he said adding that five buses were kept ready to take the Rohingyas to Myanmar’s Rakhine state, their place of origin. Bangladesh is now hosting over 1.1 million Rohingyas and most of them entered the country since 25 August, 2017. The two countries signed a repatriation deal on 23 November, 2017, but there has been little progress. On 29 July, Bangladesh handed a fresh list of 25,000 Rohingyas from around 6,000 families to Myanmar for verification before their repatriation to Rakhine state. With the latest list, Bangladesh has so far handed the names of around 55,000 Rohingyas to the Myanmar authorities and around 8,000 of them have been verified. Myanmar only cleared 3,450 Rohingyas for beginning the repatriation. On 16 January, 2018 Bangladesh and Myanmar inked a document on “Physical Arrangement”, which was supposed to facilitate the return of Rohingyas to their homeland. The “Physical Arrangement” stipulates that the repatriation will be completed preferably within two years from the start. The first batch of Rohingyas was scheduled to return on 15 November last year but it was halted amid the unwillingness of Rohingyas to go back for lack of a congenial environment in Rakhine. On 20 August, foreign minister AK Abdul Momen said both Bangladesh and Myanmar were “fully ready” to resume the repatriation of Rohingyas to their homeland but some Rohingya leaders and NGOs are reportedly discouraging them to return. “We’ve heard some Rohingya leaders emerged there. They don’t want the return of any Rohingya (to their homeland). They’re trying to stop returnees. Some INGOs and NGOs are instigating them (Rohingyas),” he told a small group of reporters at his office. He said Bangladesh wants to see Rohingyas’ return to Rakhine state as soon as possible.last_img read more