Doctors Say Number of Serious Injuries Inflicted on Yellow Vests Unprecedented

TOPSHOT - A firefighter helps an injured man near the Champs Elysees avenue in Paris on De

Doctors, activists and others are sounding the alarm over the number of serious injuries suffered by Gilets Jaunes (Yellow Vest) movement activists at the hands of police during the past several weeks.

The French Interior Ministry has claimed that in the first nine weeks of the Yellow Vest protests around 1,800 protesters and 1,000 police officers have been injured but have not separated out those with serious injuries, L’Express reports.

Doctors in France’s emergency rooms say that some of the injuries have been extremely serious, blaming the police use of “flash-ball” shots which have led to some of the most serious injuries, including at least four protestors, two of them women, who have lost an eye and suffered some form of disfigurement.

Documentary filmmaker David Dufresne has revealed the details of some of the most serious injuries, listing protestors who have lost hands, had jaws shattered or their eyes ripped open.

The level of police violence against the Yellow Vests was condemned by Amnesty International as early as mid-December and has been followed by medical professionals including facial reconstruction surgeon Professor Laurent Lantieri, a pioneer in facial transplantation.

Emergency physician Dr Christophe Prudhomme, who works at a hospital in the Paris suburbs, said the highest number of injuries occurred at the “Act IV” protest in December but that every Saturday the hospital sees a surge in emergency cases.

Dr Prudhomme also spoke out against the use of flash-ball shots that some have claimed were purposely aimed at protestors heads, saying: “The head is still something very fragile. At the level of the face, projectiles at high velocity can only cause damage,” he said.

“Whether it’s voluntary or a sign of incompetence, that’s a problem.”

“I have been working in this sector since the 1980s and this is the first time I have seen so many serious injuries during a social movement,” he added.

Physician Patrick Pelloux said that the next big challenge for emergency personnel could be an upcoming march in support of French president Emmanuel Macron scheduled for Sunday, noting.

“It could rally opponents, especially Yellow Vests, and if people start fighting with each other, there is a risk of being overwhelmed,” he said.

What began as a mass protest against a rise in fuel taxes has become the largest social movement in France’s recent history, with an overwhelming number of French continuing to support the movement which has now proposed the idea of Swiss-style Citizen Initiated Referendums (RIC) that could enact or repeal laws, strip politicians of their offices, or even amend the French constitution.

A recent poll released by OpinionWay on behalf of broadcaster LCI revealed that 73 percent of French people backed the RIC proposal, with voters of populist leader Marine Le Pen showing 86 percent support.

The poll follows a similar poll released at the start of the month which showed an even higher 80 percent support for the RIC.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)



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