After some recent heavy lifting I’ve now got strained muscles, not just in one arm but in both arms. My right shoulder is particularly bad, but I won’t bore you with all that. It’s difficult to gather your thoughts when you’re in pain, yet I shall attempt to do so here:
The appalling police brutality that took place during Sunday’s Catalonian independence referendum has largely been overshadowed by the massacre in Las Vegas. On Monday the EU Commission put out a statement about the events in Catalonia. The statement said that Catalonia is an internal matter for Spain, and did not specifically condemn the police brutality, despite the fact that it goes against the EU’s core values, as expressed in article 2 of the EU’s founding treaty and article 21 of the charter of fundamental rights. The EU won’t be able to distance itself for much longer, because Catalonia plans to declare independence next Monday. Judging by the state violence witnessed last Sunday, this declaration of independence is not going to have a rosy outcome.
The nightmare aspect of what’s going on in Europe at the moment was further enhanced yesterday, when the state of emergency in France was incorporated into French law, making it permanent. The state of emergency was first introduced nearly two years ago, in the aftermath of the November 2015 terror attacks in Paris, and it was only supposed to last for three months. Since then the state of emergency has been extended seven times, following various terror attacks, and now it’s written into law (there was another ‘terror attack’ in France last Sunday, just to jolly things along). The now permanent state of emergency is a serious erosion of civil liberties. Amongst other things it allows the security services and police to act without judges’ approval or judicial oversight, to carry out night raids, and to place people under house arrest. Right from the start it was planned to make the state of emergency permanent, but there have been massive public protests against it. The surprising thing is that the new state of emergency law breezed through the French parliament yesterday, with 415 lawmakers voting for it, and just 127 voting against it. When the state of emergency was introduced two years ago the EU did make some noises about it…
“It was with some concern that I learned that its extension appeared to be under consideration,” the pan-European human rights watchdog’s president Thorbjoern Jagland wrote in a letter to French president Francois Hollande on Monday (25 January).
“I would like to draw your attention to the risks that could result from the prerogatives conferred on the executive by the provisions that apply during the state of emergency if they are not accompanied by appropriate safeguards from the point of view of respect for fundamental freedoms,” Jagland wrote.
… but now that the state of emergency has been permanently written into law, as far as I’m aware the EU haven’t said a peep about it, despite it being a quite blatant step towards the police state. This, on top of what’s going on in Spain, which also seems to be going down the police state route.
One French deputy who voted against that new law yesterday is Jean Luc Mélenchon, an independent standing under a mass movement he founded called La France Insoumise (Unbowed France). Mélenchon is often described as a ‘hard left firebrand’, but in old money he’s centre left. Here he is speaking in the French parliament last summer. Mélenchon is mainly addressing the reforms to employment laws that Macron is pushing through by presidential decree, but he’s also addressing the neo-con agenda that more and more people are waking up to (there should be English sub-titles on the video, but if not click on the first little icon on the right of the toolbar).