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The French-American Foundation Weekly Brief
May 28, 2010
The French-American Foundation reviews the week in France
French police arrested Rwandan doctor Eugene Rwamucy in the Val-d'Oise region near Paris on Wednesday, May 26, according to the AFP. Kigali has called for his extradition for his alleged involvement in the 1994 massacre of Rwanda's Tutsis and moderate Hutus. His arrest came nearly three months after police detained Agathe Habyarimana, the widow of Rwanda's ex-president, and one of the alleged masterminds of the genocide. It also follows President Nicolas Sarkozy's landmark trip to Kigali in March during which he said France would do everything possible to ensure that all those responsible for the genocide are arrested and brought to justice.
France has been criticized for police violence in Amnesty International's annual report on human rights abuses released on Thursday, May 27, 2010. The report said investigations into police misconduct seem to lack impartiality and rigor. The human rights watchdog also criticized recent French attempts to ban women from wearing the Islamic veil in public and alleged that refugees and asylum seekers faced harsh treatment upon entering the country.
French Army war veterans from former French colonies will receive the same disability or retirement pensions as other French servicemen, the Constitutional Council of France decided. Currently, former servicemen from Africa typically get 10 to 15 less money than other French veterans.
Strikes across France delayed flights, closed schools and frustrated commuters on Thursday, May 27 as hundreds of thousands of workers rallied to protest government plans to raise the retirement age past 60. President Nicolas Sarkozy reportedly wants to raise the retirement age by 1-3 years and to extend the pension contribution period. France currently has one of the lowest retirement ages in Europe.
French farmers turned Paris' Champs Elysees into a huge farm on Sunday, May 23 to bring attention to their financial plight. Paris' most famous street was covered with trees, flowers and animals. Organizers hope the event will remind city dwellers where their food comes from, and will offer more support to farmers. Many French farmers are struggling to stay in business because of dropping food prices and high operating costs.
The Palme d'Or has been granted to the film "Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives" by Thai film director Apichatpong Weerasethakul at the 63rd Cannes Film Festival this year. The film depicts the story of a dying man who talks with the spirits of his late wife and his son. French actress Juliette Binoche, who won the prize for best actress, held up a sign with the name Jafar Panahi during the ceremony. Panahi is an Iranian filmmaker who had been invited to serve on the competition jury, but was in an Iranian jail because of his political views. Binoche's sign remained on the podium for the remainder of the ceremony.
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