5 galleriesHundreds of thousands of “Gilet Jaunes” (meaning “Yellow Vest” in French) have taken to the streets of France in recent weeks, which have left Paris’ famed Champs Elysée and the streets that surround it in utter chaos. After a call on social networks, French citizens from all over the country gathered in the French capital after government officials rejected to meet with them. “We do not want this, but we will keep fighting for our rights until someone from the Government will meet us,” said Antoine, a retired man from the western region of Bretagne (Brittany). “I hate violence, but this is the only way that we have to be heard, as French citizens we have that right,” he adds. Protests by the “gilets jaunes” originally began in mid-November in reaction to increases in fuel prices and taxes, but have since continuously expanded to a broader and ill-defined set of demands, including the resignation of French President Emmanuel Macron. Without a leader, the “gilets jaunes” have mobilized people of drastically different opinions, unified mostly by their shared discontent with a rising cost life, using social media to spread calls for demonstrations. People taking part in the demonstrations, which have included professional vandals (referred to as “casseurs” in French) numbering at least in the hundreds, ransacked storefronts and banks, set vehicles and buildings on fire, painted graffiti landmarks and uprooted the pavement, in neighborhoods adjacent to the Champs Elysées, the Opera and numerous other popular tourist attractions, while overwhelmed police forces launched tear gas and stun grenades, and attempted to disperse protesters with barricades and water cannons. While the cost of the damage is still to be determined, early estimates come to several millions of Euros, while business owners are discouraged by the new wave of violence that has shaken the area and what the next protests, already being announced, could bring. “I have lost several thousands of Euros during last Saturday. My windows are smashed, and all the exterior is filled with graffiti,” says a shop owner who prefers to keep her identity hidden for fear of retribution. “I support the fight of the Gilets Jaunes, but I cannot understand this reaction to our business. I am just a worker who invested a lot of money and if this continues I am afraid I will lose everything,” she concludes. More protests are announced... “We are a pacifist movement, we don’t like violence, and it is time for the media to make a difference between many of us and others that come here just to create chaos. Just wearing a yellow vest does not make some a yellow vest,” says Pierre, a retired Parisian. “People like me are worried about the future of our family – what future will they have? This government does not care about the people, and we won’t stop until Macron resigns. It does not matter how long it takes, but Macron is going to go, I can guarantee you that,” he concludes.
43 imagesSome 10,500 so-called “Foulards Rouges” (“red scarves”) protesters demonstrated in Paris today, marching from Place de la Nation to Place de la Bastille under the rain to protest against the recent violence that has shaken France and to express their support for democratic institutions. The newly-formed movement, organized primarily through social networks, comes as a reaction to the protests that have been held by the “Gilet Jaunes” (“yellow vests”) protesters since mid-November last year in cities throughout France.
132 imagesMore than 100,000 refugees and migrants have arrived in Greece since the beginning of 2016. They cross the Mediterranean, risking their lives to board dinghies after paying smugglers on the Turkish coast. They must survive a boat ride of more than two hours across the waters that separate the Turkish coast from the Greek island of Lesbos. More than 400 people have already drowned attempting the journey this year. The Greek coastguard patrols the Aegean Sea in search of boats in trouble. In Lesbos, doctors team up with rescue workers, firemen, and volunteers waiting for the daily arrivals, who disembark on the beaches of Greece shaking from the cold, but happy to have made it alive. The teams of helpers work fast to provide hot drinks, blankets, medical support and, in many cases, a comforting hug. European governments have put up a number of obstacles to curb the inflow of people. Recently, migrants from specific countries were blocked from continuing their journey on the Balkan route by crossing into Macedonia, which has led to protests and clashes between refugees and authorities. In Lesbos, refugees are sent to registration centres, such as Moria, where they wait for days to receive documents that will allow them to board ferries to Athens. Despite the difficulties, many refugees persevere having left behind homes torn apart by violence and war. "We all have the same story, we are travelling the same road, a road where our hearts have died, a road that is taking us far from home," said one Syrian refugee. Photography © Omar Havana. All Rights are Reserved
2 galleriesStock Photography, Cinema Personalities. Rithy Panh, Cambodian Film Director Angelina Jolie. Hollywood Actress