Hundreds of complaints filed for arbitrary arrests during protests in France

Hundreds of complaints filed for arbitrary arrests during protests in France

Arrests unfounded, aim to break social movement, say lawyers

By Nur Asena Erturk

ANKARA (AA) - Hundreds of complaints were filed because of arbitrary arrests during protests in France, lawyers said at a news conference Friday, according to media reports.

Police arrested hundreds of people during protests against the government's pension reform. The demonstrations turned violent after March 16 when Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne decided to adopt the bill without a parliamentary vote.

NGOs denounced the arbitrary arrests and police violence, while France's Defender of Rights Ombudsman Claire Hedon last week warned authorities about the use of force against protesters.

Lawyers said the arrests are unfounded and aimed to break the social movement, according to the Le Figaro newspaper.

They have also said cases of police violence would be subject to other complaints in the coming days.

- Protests against pension reform

The government revealed the reform project in January, and workers and trade unions have since expressed growing outrage by holding demonstrations and walkouts.

Outrage by workers intensified when the government used special constitutional powers on March 16 to force the plan through -- Article 49.3 of the Constitution -- a mechanism that allows the government to adopt a draft bill without parliamentary approval.

Violent groups infiltrated parades in many cities during impromptu demonstrations, vandalizing street furniture and setting fire to buildings, dumpsters and trash.

Police arrested hundreds of people and clashes erupted between security forces and protesters.

President Emmanuel Macron and government officials, including Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin, backed police actions, while protesting groups denounced them for being disproportionate.

The reform project includes raising the retirement age from 62 to 64 in 2030, requiring at least 43 years of work to be eligible for a full pension.

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