French ‘yellow vests’ shut down top Paris department store

1 / 3
Yellow vest demonstrators enjoy a lunch to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the national yellow vest movement, at a traffic circle in La Ciotat, southern France, Saturday, Nov. 17, 2019. (AP)
2 / 3
Members of the "yellow vest" (gilets jaunes) movement applaud during a rally in tribute to Chantal Mazet, one year after the death of the 63 year-old woman on a roundabout in Le Pont-de-Beauvoisin, near Chambery, central eastern France, on November 17, 2019. (AFP)
3 / 3
A yellow vest demonstrator holds a flare during celebrations to mark the one-year anniversary of the national yellow vest movement, at a traffic circle in La Ciotat, southern France, Saturday, Nov. 17, 2019. (AP)
Updated 18 November 2019

French ‘yellow vests’ shut down top Paris department store

  • Fresh protests were held across France to mark the birth last year for the movement
  • Authorities said about 28,000 people marched across France on Saturday, including 4,700 in Paris

PARIS: French "yellow vest" demonstrators occupied a top Parisian department store on Sunday, a day after clashes in the capital on the first anniversary of the protest movement.
The glitzy Galeries Lafayette store in the Opera shopping district was evacuated after dozens of protesters chanting anti-capitalist and anti-government slogans took over the third floor.
"(President Emmanuel) Macron is destroying France and your rights, don't criticise us" We're here for you," one placard read.
The protesters were expelled shortly afterwards by security staff.
The store -- one of the top destinations in Paris for moneyed foreign tourists, which was targeted by the demonstrators as a "consumerist temple" -- said it would remain closed for the rest of the day.
The protest came on a second day of demonstrations to mark the anniversary of a leaderless revolt that badly rattled President Emmanuel Macron's centrist government.
Twenty people were arrested Sunday in Paris but in most places the protests were peaceful.
On Saturday, police in Paris had battled rioters for hours around the southeastern Place d'Italie square, where a yellow vest march was shut down by the authorities after turning violent.
Several cars were overturned or set alight, bus shelters were smashed and a monument to a World War II hero Marshal Alphonse Juin was defaced by demonstrators dressed in black, who wore masks to hide their faces.
Police checked thousands of demonstrators over the weekend. On Sunday, prosecutors said 169 were held in custody including eight minors.
Castaner claimed that there were "few demonstrators" among at the protesters in Paris, who he said were mainly "thugs, brutes who came to fight the security forces and prevent the emergency services from doing their work".
But leftist TV historian Mathilde Larrere wrote on Twitter that she and two friends were prevented from leaving the protest after the clashes began because of police crowd control tactics.
She accused the police of tactics "unworthy of a democratic state", citing "the repeated teargassing and (stun) grenades going off everywhere".
In rural France, by contrast, the mood of the anniversary was more festive. Many yellow vests returned to the traffic roundabouts they occupied last year when they began rebelling against Macron's economic policies.
But at the town of Le Pont-de-Beauvoisin in the southeast Savoie region, around 60 people paid tribute to a yellow vest protester who died a year ago. Chantal Mazet was knocked over by a car at a roundabout on the first day of the protests.
The interior ministry put the number of demonstrators on Saturday at 28,600 nationwide but the organisers said nearly 40,000 people had rallied -- a far cry from the estimated 282,000 who took part in the first big day of protests on November 17, 2018.
The yellow vests, who accuse Macron of ruling on behalf of the urban elite -- the spark for the protests was a series of fuel price hikes that squeezed car-dependent rural-dwellers -- are adamant that they have not gone away.
They are now looking to join forces with the trade union movement, which is planning a major transport strike over pension reforms starting on December 5.


Indian woman who alleged gang rape dies after burn attack

Updated 07 December 2019

Indian woman who alleged gang rape dies after burn attack

  • The woman was attacked in the state of Uttar Pradesh by a group of men that included two of the five she had accused of gang rape last year
  • The 23-year-old woman suffered extensive injuries and was airlifted Thursday from Uttar Pradesh to Safdarjung Hospital in New Delhi, where she died late Friday of cardiac arrest

NEW DELHI: An alleged rape victim in northern India who was set on fire while heading to a court hearing in the case has died in a New Delhi hospital, officials said Saturday.
The woman was attacked in the state of Uttar Pradesh by a group of men that included two of the five she had accused of gang rape last year, police said. The two were out of custody on bail.
Five men were arrested in connection with the burn attack, police said.
The 23-year-old woman suffered extensive injuries and was airlifted Thursday from Uttar Pradesh to Safdarjung Hospital in New Delhi, where she died late Friday of cardiac arrest, said Dr. Shalab Kumar, head of the hospital’s burn unit.
Yogi Adityanath, the state’s chief minister, said that the case would be heard in a fast track court and that the “strictest of punishment will be given to the culprits.”
Priyanka Gandhi, general secretary of the opposition Congress party, faulted the Uttar Pradesh government, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, for failing to provide the woman with security, even after a similar case in the state in which a woman who accused a BJP lawmaker of rape was severely injured in a vehicle hit-and-run incident.
Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state, is known for its poor record regarding crimes against women. According to the most recent available official crime records, police registered more than 4,200 cases of rape in the state in 2017 — the most in India.
Government figures for 2017 also show that police registered 33,658 cases of rape in the country. But the real figure is believed to be far higher as many women in India don’t report cases to police due to fear.
Indian courts also seem to be struggling to deal with these cases. Data shows that more than 90% of cases of crimes against women are pending in city courts.
The burn victim’s death came on the same day police in the southern state of Telangana fatally shot four men being held on suspicion of raping and killing a 27-year-old veterinarian after investigators took them to the crime scene. Their deaths drew both praise and condemnation in a case that has sparked protests across the country.
The woman’s burned corpse was found last week by a passer-by near the city of Hyderabad, India’s tech hub, after she went missing the previous night.
Police took the four suspects, who had not been charged with any crime, to the scene to help them locate the victim’s phone and other items, officials said. They said the men grabbed police firearms and began shooting, and were killed when police returned fire.
The Telangana High Court ordered authorities to preserve the bodies of the suspects and submit a video of the autopsies ahead of a court hearing set for Monday.
Separately, the National Commission on Human Rights, an autonomous body within India’s Parliament, sent a fact-finding mission to the crime scene and mortuary where the suspects’ bodies were held on Saturday amid questions from opposition lawmakers about the circumstances of the suspects’ deaths.