Policemen fired teargas against about two hundred protesters and climate change activists in Paris on Sunday. They pelted them with objects during a demonstration ahead of the COP21 climate talks in the French capital, which starts on Monday.
Violent climate activists and protesters fought with police on a street leading to the Place de la République , which has become a gathering place for Parisians since the terror attacks in the capital that killed 130 people two weeks ago.
Demonstrators were heard chanting “State of emergency, police state”, referring to measures restricting demonstrations that were introduced in the wake of the attacks and the country’s state of emergency extended to a three months period.
Police fired gas at some protesters as they tried to reach the square, and they used tear gas to disperse others. Demonstrators were carrying banners calling for the climate defense and protection and democracy, reportedly threw glass bottles and even several candles – left as tributes to the Paris attack victims – at police.
‘Scandalous clashes’ says President Hollande
French President François Hollande was attending an EU-Turkey summit in Brussels when he spoke about the protests and condemned the actions of the activists involved.
“These disruptive elements have nothing to do with defenders of the environment,” he said.
“It is doubly regrettable, even scandalous that this happened at the Place de la République where flowers and candles have been left in memory of those who were killed by the terrorists’ bullets.”
Amongst climate pressure groups, 350.org distanced itself from the illegal protest claiming that the demonstrators had violated the “nonviolent pledge that every group involved in the climate coalition” agreed to.
The statement expressed hope that France would not clamp down further on public freedoms during the conference following the incident.
A march at Le Bourget outside the capital was planned for Sunday in Paris ahead of the UN climate change summit. However, it was banned by police under the state of emergency rules imposed after the November 13 attacks.
Earlier on Sunday, activists had covered the Place de la République with thousands of shoes -including a pair of trainers left by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon – instead of marching.
Around 4,500 demonstrators also formed a human chain through the city, passing near the Bataclan concert hall that was one of the scene of the Paris attacks that killed 129 persons and wounded about 350 others.