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5 Jan, 2022 13:15

Vaccine mandate protesters beat up hospital boss

Violent scenes play out in French-controlled Guadeloupe amid protests against compulsory Covid vaccination
Vaccine mandate protesters beat up hospital boss

Healthcare workers protesting against mandatory vaccination for medical staff in the French Caribbean territory of Guadeloupe have beaten up the director of a local hospital and “torn clothes off” his deputy.

According to local media, the incident happened on Tuesday, and involved around 50 members of a healthcare workers’ union. Gaby Clavier, general secretary of the trade union section, said they had gathered outside the University Hospital of Guadeloupe to “get their money back.” Earlier, medical staff who had failed to comply with the mandate were subjected to pay deductions. Unvaccinated healthcare professionals were also set to be suspended after the December 31 deadline set by authorities.

The hospital issued a statement saying the protesters had blocked the entrance, trapping the medical facility’s director and several other personnel inside for a few hours. When they attempted to leave the building with a police escort, protesters reportedly “kicked the director in the ribs,” and then delivered a powerful headbutt that “nearly knocked him out.” One of his deputies had his clothes torn off.

Demonstrators were also said to have “seriously damaged” a vehicle belonging to a hospital official.

The statement concluded by condemning “violence and intimidation” against hospital staff, and pointing out that 95% of workers at the facility have received the Covid vaccine.

The attack coincided with a press conference that was being held by groups opposing vaccine mandates and the so-called health pass.

Guadeloupe, which is a French overseas region in the southeastern part of the Caribbean Sea, has been gripped by protests against Covid vaccine mandates since November last year. Demonstrations have frequently descended into rioting. France even had to send police reinforcements to the territory.

However, the protests show no sign of abating, with anti-mandate activists storming the local legislature in late December. What started off as demonstrations against vaccine mandates and other Covid measures has since ballooned into a movement with a broader spectrum of demands, including access to clean drinking water, better infrastructure, more employment, and wage increases.