French Deputy Interior Minister Laurent Nunez on Thursday firmly rejected the term “police violence,” which has surfaced in news reports on police interventions in protests.
Speaking on a television program, Nunez said he supported the police’s stance, claiming the police are not violent.
He said he refuted the term “police violence” because it suggests there is an organized system which would like the police to be repressive in order to silence protests.
He said state violence is legitimate and is very controlled and police can use violence only when they are attacked.
His comments came as many labor unions called on demonstrators to march in the streets of Paris Dijon, Rouen, Lyon, Nantes, Bordeaux, Strasbourg and Rennes with torches.
Thousands of demonstrators protesting against President Emmanuel Macron’s controversial pension plans complied.
In the past year, a protestor died from police violence, 26 people lost an eye and nearly 500 others were injured during demonstrations.
Anadolu Agency photojournalist Mustafa Yalcin was wounded on Dec. 5 when a projectile fired by police exploded near him, breaking the glass of his helmet and leaving his left eye severely injured.
Yalcin underwent a six-hour operation at Cochin Hospital and faces the risk of permanent loss of eyesight.
On Jan. 11, Dursun Aydemir, another Anadolu Agency photojournalist, was wounded in the leg near the Lyon train station when a gas canister thrown by police hit him.
The pension reform strike started in protest against the government’s planned overhaul of the national pension system. Macron is steadfast in his position that the 42 different plans currently in place need to be consolidated into one.
Pension payouts under the new plan would be calculated from salaries from across a worker’s career instead of only the last five years. The result, unions say, would be significantly reduced payouts for workers.
Macron’s proposed plan would also phase out the early retirement advantages of certain sectors, primarily the civil service, by adjusting various “hardship” criteria.