First real taste of austerity unrest
CYPRUS saw its first real taste of austerity-related unrest yesterday when hundreds of casual government workers due to be laid off, stormed first through the finance ministry and then parliament. A total of 992 seasonal government employees will be out of work starting from today as part of government cuts, about half of whom took to the streets yesterday. The move aims to save €9 million a year. Inside parliament, Finance Minister Vassos Shiarly was briefing the House Finance Committee on the status of talks with international lenders, the troika.
The first fracas occurred at the finance ministry where protesters had gathered outside waving banners and chanting: ‘No to poverty and unemployment, the rich should pay and not the workers’, ‘Instead of getting rid of foreigners, they’re getting rid of us’. The protesters also called for the ‘greedy thieving bankers’ to be handed over to the people. Emotions were running high by that time and when the group lunged for the entrance, the hopelessly inadequate police barricade was no match for the pushing protesters. After managing to enter the main hall of the finance ministry, a group of the protesters started making their way upstairs in an attempt to get to the minister’s office, although he was not there as ministry staff looked on from a safe distance.
The angry protesters were stopped by union leaders who convinced them to continue their demonstration outside the parliament. Some stayed outside the ministry where they approved a resolution they planned to give to Shiarly and House President, Yiannakis Omirou. One protester told reporters: “I have seven children and I make €1,100 a month, that’s already not enough to pay my electricity bill or to make the payment on my loan. What are we supposed to do now? We are imprisoned in our own homes. We can’t even afford to go to a cafι for a coffee any more.”
Clashes in central Tunisia as unrest spreads
SILIANA, Tunisia — Clashes erupted on Thursday between Tunisian police and anti-government protesters in the central town of Siliana as unrest raged into a third day and the prime minister warned against “chaos.” Security forces fired warning shots and tear gas at hundreds of protesters trying to storm a police station in Siliana a day after more than 250 people were wounded there during clashes with police, AFP journalists reported.
The protesters, angry at the government’s failure to improve living standards, are demanding the resignation of the regional governor, funds to boost development and the release of demonstrators arrested in April last year. Similar grievances fuelled the Arab Spring uprising that toppled veteran strongman Zine El Abidine Ben Ali early last year. Police chased the protesters with batons in the surrounding streets while some among the crowd hurled rocks in response. “We are demanding the departure of all these reinforcements. We will not accept the police agents of Siliana,” one protester said. Medics said 26 persons had been treated in hospital.
An AFP count put at 30 the number of arrests, but the interior ministry could not be reached for confirmation. Protests also degenerated into violence in several localities nearby. In the town of Kesra, 40 kilometres (25 miles) from Siliana, dozens of protesters torched a security post and two police vehicles, after police fired tear gas in a bid to stop them from storming the building, witnesses said.
“Around 30 people set the place on fire,” said Ali, 17, a youth standing near the building with his friends. The offices of the ruling Islamist party Ennahda in Kesra were also attacked and documents burned, witnesses said. And in Gaafour, north of Siliana, protesters hurled rocks at police and army trucks heading to the flashpoint town, forcing some of them to turn back, according to witnesses there.
Kenya: University Students Riot in Rongo
More than 800 Rongo University students which is a constituent college of Moi University in Migori went on the rampage on Tuesday evening bring business activity in Rongo town to a standstill. Motorists passing through the town from Kisii, Homa Bay and Migori towns were forced to use a diversion for fear of their vehicles getting stoned, as riot police engaged the students in running battles, after they blocked the busy road that connect these tows.
The students were protesting against poor sanitation and lack of water in their hostels, lack of a sports ground and expensive food that is sold at their cafeteria. They also said there is no security at their hostels. “We are paying huge college fees. We blame the administration for failure to provide security at our hostels,” said a student who sought anonymity.
Thousands strike at Japanese parts plant
An auto parts factory under the Japanese giant Yazaki Corporation in Shantou, Guangdong Province, suspended one of its Japanese staff members and fired a Chinese employee after a strike involving 3,000 workers on November 22, a staff member of the factory confirmed to the Global Times Thursday.
The strike was triggered after some 250 workers were unwilling to move from their old plant to a new one in the same city due to the shutdown of a canteen on November 22, when the contract to run the canteen expired, a director from the managing department of Shantou Yazaki Auto Parts Company, surnamed Jiang, told the Global Times. The Hong Kong-based Oriental Daily Wednesday said the strike was provoked by the Japanese staff member’s physical assault against Chinese employees.
An employee who answered the phone at the company’s office but would not identify herself confirmed there had been a physical confrontation. “The 250 workers have had labor disputes with the company for a long time.” When they protested at the company’s headquarters building in Shantou on November 22, the Japanese head of the management department beat three of the Chinese workers, causing more than 3,000 employees to go on strike.
Four Palestinian prisoners join hunger strike
RAMALLAH: Four Palestinian prisoners detained in the West Bank during a sweeping arrested campaign by Israeli military forces have announced that they will launch hunger strikes until they are guaranteed their release, Ahlul Bayt News Agency reported on Friday. The four men, all of whom are from Jenin, are being held under administrative detention, presently without charges or trials. At least one of the prisoners, Jafar Ezzudin, participated in a previous hunger strike.
At least three additional Palestinian prisoners were already on hunger strike in Israeli military prisons. Prisoner rights organization Addameer is concerned about their deteriorating health, it said in a statement released on Tuesday. Ayman Shawarna, who has been on hunger strike for 149 days, ingesting only water, stated he is ready to “intensify” his hunger strike, according to Ma’an News Agency.
He is presently being held in a military clinic, shackled to his hospital bed for the vast majority of the day. He has reportedly lost 38 kilograms since he stopped taking food. Samer Issawi, another hunger striker who on Tuesday hit 118 days, also stopped accepting water on November 21. He is fainting regularly, monitors report, and has sustained several injuries. Issawi’s health has quickly declined, and his weight has fallen to a mere 46 kilograms. Lawyers say he suffers from back and leg pain, as well as alarmingly low blood pressure.