On Thursday 6 December, high school students demonstrated outside a school in Mantes-la-Jolie, west of Paris. After a demonstration to protest the new reforms to the exam system, the students were brutally arrested by police officers. Shocking images of the arrest have been circulating on social media. Police officers, armed and equipped with helmets, the infamous “flash balls” (batons) and shields, were filmed twisting students’ arms behind their backs. Other students can be seen laying on their knees, hands on their heads waiting to be taken to police stations. Some students, the youngest of whom was only 12 years old, had to wait in these horrendous positions for more than three hours, outside in the mud. Police trucks were going back and forth between the high school and the police station. 148 students in total were arrested.
We wholeheartedly condemn the brutal actions of the government in stifling the voices of these students. We support the students in the face of these dreadful events. This is part of the wave of anger against the government sparked by the Yellow Vest movement.
Students are angered by President Emmanuel Macron’s plans to change the end-of-school exam required for entrance to university, known as the baccalaureate. Other reforms include changes to the university admissions platform Parcoursup. These reforms will directly attack and limit the opportunity of students from working class backgrounds.
Despite Macron’s retreat this week over the fuel tax increase, anger and frustration due to years of austerity and inequality are still growing. The Yellow Vest movement has intensified the struggle against the government on all fronts, including among high school students.
The government is in crisis and is prepared to use the full force of its apparatus, even against unarmed high school student protesters. The Marxist Student Federation condemns all attempts to shut down students by means of police force and sends its solidarity to the students in Mantes-la-Jolie and all over France.