Omar Havana

La Vie En Jaune
Location: Paris, France
Nationality: Spanish
Biography: Omar Havana, 1975 Granada, Spain. Spanish Freelance Photojournalist. Based in Paris, France. Previously based in Asia. ( Nepal 2014-2015 and Cambodia 2008 - 2014 ; 2015-2017) Omar has worked as a professional photojournalist since 2005, and since... read on

Hundreds of thousands of “Gilet Jaunes” (meaning “Yellow Vest” in French) have taken to the streets of France every weekend since November 17th, 2018.

During 53 consecutive weekends, French citizens from all over the country gathered in the French capital after government officials rejected to meet with them. “We do not want this, but we will keep fighting for our rights until someone from the Government will meet us,” said Antoine, a retired man from the western region of Bretagne (Brittany). “I hate violence, but this is the only way that we have to be heard, as French citizens we have that right,” he adds.

Protests by the “Gilets Jaunes” originally began in mid-November 2018 in reaction to increases in fuel prices and taxes, but have since continuously expanded to a broader and ill-defined set of demands, including the resignation of French President Emmanuel Macron. Without a leader, the “Gilets Jaunes” have mobilized people of drastically different opinions, unified mostly by their shared discontent with a rising cost life, using social media to spread calls for demonstrations.

People taking part in the demonstrations, which have included professional vandals (referred to as “casseurs” in French) numbering at least in the hundreds, have ransacked storefronts and banks, set vehicles, and buildings on fire, painted graffiti on landmarks and uprooted the pavement, in neighborhoods adjacent to the Champs Elysées, the Opera and numerous other popular tourist attractions, while overwhelmed police forces responded by launching tear gas and stun grenades and attempted to disperse protesters with barricades and water cannons.

Since the beginning of the movement, 11 people have died (but none since the end of January), mainly in road accidents. According to the Ministry of Interior, 1944 police officers and 2,495 demonstrators have been injured on the demonstrators' side, many of them as a result of the use of extreme violence by police forces who continue to use controversial LBDs, which is criticized by human rights organizations. According to a study by Mediapart, 2 people have died, 315 people have suffered head injuries, 24 people lost an eye and 5 lost hands due to police violence. 

 “We are a pacifist movement, we don’t like violence, and it is time for the media to make a difference between many of us and others that come here just to create chaos. Just wearing a yellow vest does not make some a yellow vest,” says Pierre, a retired Parisian. “People like me are worried about the future of our family – what future will they have? This government does not care about the people, and we won’t stop until Macron resigns. It does not matter how long it takes, but Macron is going to go, I can guarantee you that,” he concludes.

The movement continues, and more protests are announced for the coming weekends in France… Will it last through a second year? 

According to a recent poll, 69 % of the French believe the “Gilets Jaunes” movement is still justified.

Photography: © Omar Havana. All Rights are Reserved

Part of this story has been published in Al Jazeera English


By Omar Havana —


The Bucolic Life of a Cambodian Grandmother Accused of Mass Killings

By Omar Havana — In this dusty mountain hamlet on the Thai border, she is known as Grandma Chaem. The tiny 74-year-old lives peacefully in a snug, stilted house..

They Smashed Banks for Pol Pot. Now They’re Founding Them

By Omar Havana — When the Khmer Rouge were ousted in 1979, they retreated to strongholds like Malai on the western fringes of Cambodia along with thousands of..

Breaking tradition among Nepal's Maithil women

By Omar Havana — Like many women in the Maithil community in Nepal, Manjula Thakur found her life severely restricted and controlled by the male members of her..

Bonjour, Paris

By Omar Havana — "The meaning of the other and love have disappeared from this society. Without money, people do not exist."  - Jean, a 33-year-old..

Trapped: the Dark Side of Cambodia's Beer Gardens

By Omar Havana — Throughout Cambodia, thousands of women, most of them under the age of 25, work in beer gardens, karaoke bars and private parties promoting beer..

When the Earth Shook Nepal

By Omar Havana — A 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal on April 25th, 2015, shaking the already-impoverished nation to its core, killing over 8,000 people,..

A woman's Cry: The detention of Tep Vanny

By Omar Havana — Tep Vanny is Cambodia’s most famous activist and the leader of the women of Boeung Kak Lake, who stormed the country after their forced..

Devotees of the Ink

By Omar Havana — Once a year, thousands of people from all over Thailand travel to the Wat Bang Phra temple, located about 70 kilometers outside of Bangkok in..

Inside a Cambodian Slaughterhouse

By Omar Havana — In a country where the demand for meat is ever-increasing and where pork is generally favored, Cambodia’s swine slaughterhouses are an..

The Way

By Omar Havana — More than 100,000 refugees and migrants have arrived in Greece since the beginning of 2016. They cross the Mediterranean, risking their lives to..

The Khmer Fighters

By Omar Havana — Pradal Serey or Kun Khmer -free fighting- is an unarmed martial art from Cambodia. Compared to other forms of Southeast Asian kickboxing, Kun Khmer..

My Country Is My Family

By Omar Havana — Surrounded by stunning forest, Beldangi is an example of how a refugee camp should be. Only one banner and a barrier at the main entrance indicate..

Evicting Dreams: The Last Days of the White Building

By Omar Havana — On June 6th, the faces of the residents of the White Building showed the sadness of what were their last days home. During those days, people..

The Angkor Hell

By Omar Havana — Just a few dozen kilometers away from the world-famous Angkor temples, about 300 people have lived for the last three years in a rapidly expanding..
Join us
for more access