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A Teacher Testifies: "We Waited for Twenty Minutes, No Help Arrived"

Translated by Henry Crapo

Translated Saturday 8 April 2006, by Henry Crapo

Alain Bessaha, a teacher, filmed the charge by the CRS against the demonstrators and the trampling of Cyril Ferez. The union activist in SUD-PTT, injured Saturday evening, is still in a coma. Here is Alain Bessaha’s testimony.

An eye witness report from the front-line of the demonstration against the so-called "first job contracts" (CPEs)

8.12 pm: The riot-police (CRS) charge into the demonstrators

"When I was filming, it was 8.12 in the evening. Cyril was on his knees on the roundabout at the center of the Place de la Nation. He was struck by a CRS policeman who was chasing a demonstrator. At that moment, Cyril fell over on his right side and stopped moving. Just behind, there arrived a dozen CRS who ran to protect their colleague, who has stumbled on Cyril. They wanted to protect this isolated policeman who was in danger of falling over, since the situation was very tense. It was then that Cyril was trampled upon. I can’t say if the kicks he received were intentional or not. It was dark. In the film, it seems that one of the kicks was heavier than the others. I didn’t see the blow to Cyril’s head. This scene, I filmed for twenty seconds."

Cyril, alone on the ground

"The CRS who charged towards the demonstrators then left. But the climate was violent, all sorts of projectiles were in the air. Why did’t they evacuate Cyril? I don’t understand. I see two CRS who were leaning over him. They seemed to be evaluating the situation, and saying, no doubt, that this was serious. Perhaps they were afraid. Cyril’s face was bruised all over and swollen. I came close to him, with two others, one a journalist. I had a gas-mask because of the tear-gas. After that, I remained alone with Cyril. I checked his pulse, and he was breathing. But he was no longer able to speak. The journalists yelled to the CRS "Call someone". The CRS didn’t come back, they left the roundabout."

The CRS "life-guard"

A minute later, four or five CRS, not the same as those who had been involed in the charge, approached Cyril. One of them said he was a life-guard. He gets down on his knees, puts his hand behind Cyril’s head, and moves him a bit. He makes a call on the radio, then nothing else happens. No gesture of first aid. We are the ones who undo the neck strap of his bag and his scarf, for fear that they might smother him. We put something under his head, and I pick up his glasses. At his side, his CD player has been smashed. The CRS "life-guard" asks a few questions. After five minutes, he replies. He says his name is Cyril, that he is in the postal union SUD-PTT. I hold his hand. I don’t want to let go of him, leave him alone with the CRS. Not for a single moment was he alone with the "life-guard". Cyril’s speech is incoherent. He tries to move, to touch his eye. He says he doesn’t want first aid, he doesn’t want to go to the hospital, just to go home. He is afraid that he will have problems at work."

A twenty minute wait

"This scene lasts 20 minutes, during which no help arrives. It was two photography students who summoned the fire truck. (Read l’Humanité for Wednesday 22 March). I give Cyril’s glasses to the firemen, then follow the CRS as they rejoin their unit. At no time does the CRS "life-saver" join Cyril in the fire truck, yet he announces that Cyril Ferez "had admitted to him that he had had a fight with other demonstrators, who had attacked him". Cyril leaves for the hospital at about 8.45 pm"

Interview by Lénaïg Bredoux

According to the Paris hospital to which he was taken, Cyril Ferez’s "nervous system underwent a ’slight improvement’" yesterday, but the vital signs are still "under observation". Monday, after a new a second scan, he "responded slightly" to questions.

Translator’s update: It has been announced today, 7 April, that Cyril Ferez is emerging from the coma.

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