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French firefighters. Photo supplied

Two vaccination centers in France vandalized, riots in Martinique

The vaccination center of Lans-en-Vercors was put "out of use" on Friday. And the vaccine tent of the municipality of Urrugne was the target of an arson attack on Saturday.

Published: July 20, 2021, 10:58 am

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    The two Covid-19 vaccination centers in Isère and the Pyrénées-Atlantiques were ransacked in less than 48 hours according to regional daily Le Dauphiné libéré.

    “The municipal building in which the vaccination center was installed has been completely destroyed,” said the mayor of the city, Michaël Kraemer. Furniture, syringes and medical supplies were also ransacked, according to French daily Le Monde.

    Anti-vaccine inscriptions and crosses of Lorraine were also tagged on the building: “1940” and “vaccine = genocide”. Municipal equipment stored in garages under the building has also been damaged, while the structure and floors of the building were soaked with water. “We also pay the price of the instrumentalization of certain major national policies which to exist today use mistrust vis-à-vis vaccination,” said the mayor, establishing a link between various anti-vaccine pass committees and local medical facilities.

    The town hall of this small town of some 2600 inhabitants was to host a vaccination center again this weekend, following the expansion of forced vaccination. An investigation was entrusted to the Villard-de-Lans gendarmerie, which went to the site to investigate.

    In the Pyrénées-Atlantiques, the marquee hosting the Covid-19 vaccination center in the town of Urrugne was also the subject of an arson attack, the Bayonne prosecutor announced on Sunday. An investigation has been launched and on his Twitter account, the public prosecutor Jérôme Bourrier explained that “the Bayonne judicial police service will conduct an investigation into the willful destruction by fire”.

    For the mayor of Urrugne, Philippe Aramendi, arson is beyond doubt. “I was called at 3 am and it was found that a flammable product had been spilled around the marquee. Fortunately, the firefighters quickly contained the flames and the marquee was only partially destroyed,” he explained.

    According to the municipal councilor Danièle Bideondo-Baron, interviewed by Sud Ouest, the town hopes to resume the normal course of the vaccination campaign from Wednesday. “Everyone has the right to have their opinion on vaccination, but this regrettable act harms all Urrugnards,” explained the social action assistant.

    On Saturday, the Prime Minister, Jean Castex, went to the Basque Country, Bayonne and Anglet, in particular to visit a vaccination center and discuss with the prefect of Pyrénées-Atlantiques the implementation of the health pass in this department where 51 percent of the population has had both jabs.

    These two acts of vandalism occurred as 150 000 people demonstrated in France on Saturday against vaccination and the health pass, which will be required in many places from August. The alleged Delta variant has “increased by 80 percent over a week, never seen before since the start of the crisis,” said government spokesman Gabriel Attal in an interview published by Le Parisien.

    In fact, two days after a wave of protests against the health pass across France, Attal said that France had entered the “fourth wave” of the Covid-19 epidemic, citing an impressive rise in some indicators. “We have entered a fourth wave of the virus. […] The dynamics of the epidemic are extremely strong, with a faster wave and a steeper slope than all the previous ones,” declared Attal, quoted by Le Figaro.

    Since the presidential decrees of July 12, firefighters have learned that they will be among the target recipients for compulsory vaccination, but no less that seven unions have decided to oppose forced vaccination. The seven unions requested the withdrawal of this measure in a letter to parliamentarians. According to France Info, who contacted Sébastien Delavoux, union representatives of firefighters were “not against vaccination, but against its obligation”.

    But it is really a matter of growing mistrust: “At the start of the pandemic we were told that we were not running any risk and we were sent to the front line without protection,” said Xavier Boy, President of the Autonomous Federation of Professional Firefighters and Specialized Administrative and Technical Staff (FA SPP PATS). After demanding that firefighters testing positive for Covid but asymptomatic, continue working, “we are forced [now] to be vaccinated while we are in good health”.

    In Martinique, the city of Fort-de-France saw a second night of violence and looting, after a rally organized on Saturday by anti-vaccine protesters which degenerated, according to police sources. On the island, where a curfew was once again decreed for 9:00 pm, clashes pitted the police and groups of youths in Terresainvilles, a popular district of Fort-de-France.

    Serge Letchimy, the new president of the executive council of the Assembly of Martinique, called for “appeasement and dialogue”, recalling in a press release that “the issue of vaccination is a collective and individual issue in this context of the serious health crisis that we are going through. Taking positions for personal and ethical reasons is legitimate. They must be heard and respected in their diversity”.

    France is the latest country to have joined a list of some 15 countries that imposed compulsory vaccination measures. Vaccine tyranny has been fully implemented in Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and the Vatican City. Elsewhere, obligatory vaccinations have been imposed for healthcare workers and certain professions, including the UK, Italy, Switzerland and Greece.

    In Russia, the vaccination of service sector employees is mandatory only in some localities, such as Moscow and St. Petersburg, while in the United States, San Francisco recently announced it would require all 35 000 city employees to get the jab.

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    • Rentia Diedericks

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