Singapore Deports Chinese Drivers Over Strike
SINGAPORE—Singapore authorities will deport 29 Chinese bus drivers and press criminal charges against five others for participating in a rare protest over wages, the city-state’s first strike in 26 years.
The walkout last week by 171 public bus drivers hired from China underscored tensions over Singapore’s reliance on foreign labor and its treatment of low-skilled migrant workers and prompted Beijing to express concern over the arrests of its citizens. The home affairs and manpower ministries said Saturday that an unidentified man will be prosecuted Monday under a law prohibiting workers from initiating, continuing or furthering an illegal strike. Four men were charged last week for allegedly instigating the walkout.
Work permits for 29 other drivers have been revoked, authorities said in a statement, enabling their deportation. They weren’t identified. Authorities don’t expect to charge or deport more drivers, the statement said. Alex Au, a social activist at Transient Workers Count Too, a nongovernmental organization championing the rights of migrant workers, predicted that the response to the strike will have a “chilling effect” on organized labor but “this issue [of perceived labor exploitation] will boil over again.” “This issue illustrates an underlying stress in the system” heavily dependent on foreign workers, many of whom “come from societies where it is culturally acceptable to protest,” Mr. Au said.
Dutch police arrest 55 suspected PKK members in Zeeland
Police have arrested 55 suspected members of the Kurdish separatist movement PKK who were holding a secret meeting in Zeeland province, the public prosecution department said on Monday. The meeting was taking place at a holiday house complex in the village of Ellemeet, the department said. In total, 150 regular and riot police officers were involved in the operation, as was a surveillance helicopter. The PKK has been included on the European list of terrorist organisations since 2002 and has been banned in the Netherlands since 2007.
The police had been tipped off about the meeting by the AIVD security service. The meeting began on Friday and may have been scheduled to last a complete week, the public prosecutor said. Some 40,000 people have died in the 25-year conflict between the Turkish state and the PKK militant group. The PKK, or Kurdistan Workers’ Party, is waging a campaign in south-east Turkey for the establishment of a Kurdish state. Dutch connection According to media reports, it is not clear what the aim of the meeting was. In June a number of people with suspected PKK links were arrested on a campsite in Zevenaar. In 2004, a camp on a farm in Noord-Brabant was broken up by police and around 30 suspected PKK members were arrested but the case against them eventually collapsed.
Copper Mine Protest Heats Up with Arrests
RANGOON and MONYWA—While armed police are not normally visible around the heart of Rangoon, there has been a marked increase in security personnel ever since last week’s brutal crackdown on anti-copper mine protesters in central Burma. Burmese activists Moe Thway, Aung Soe and former monk Gambira remain in custody after being arrested by police on Saturday during a rally outside the Chinese Embassy. While the precise motive for their arrests remains unclear, their continued detention seems like an effort to quell escalating future protests.
Gambira, who was previously jailed for four years following his leading role instigating the nationwide monk-led Saffron Revolution democracy uprising of 2007, has reportedly been transferred to Rangoon’s notorious Insein Prison along with Moe Thway and Aung Soe. The raid in Monywa, Sagaing Division, early on Thursday morning saw dozens of peaceful demonstrators—the vast majority monks—severely injured, and led to solidarity protests around the country.
Armed police can now be seen around key areas of the former capital including Sule Pagoda, Trader’s Hotel, Bogyoke Aung San Market and City Hall. The latest arrests come after a protest by around 30 monks at Sule Pagoda on Friday. Public campaigns among Burmese activists have continued against the military-owned Union of Myanmar Economic Holdings Limited (UMEHL), also known as U Pai Company, which runs the copper mine as a joint venture with China’s Wan Bao Company. Activists have urged people to stop drinking Myanmar Beer, which is produced by U Pai Company in conjunction with Singapore’s Asia Pacific Breweries. Internet users spread messages via social networks such as Facebook to encourage a boycott of products made by U Pai.
U Pai Company was established by the Burmese military for small and medium-sized commercial enterprises and industries. Between 1990 and 2007, U Pai formed 77 fully fledged firms, according to “Building the Tatmadaw” by Burmese defense scholar Maung Aung Myoe. Wan Bao Company is a subsidiary of the China North Industries Corporation arms manufacturer which reportedly supplies weapons to the Burmese military. Wan Bao and U Pai began operating the controversial mining project last year, but it was Canadian company Ivanhoe Mines that originally started working in the area in 1998.
Fierce anti-China sentiment has been on the rise since last November with protesters demanding a complete shutdown of the copper mine citing illegal land confiscations, deforestation and toxic waste seeping onto farmland. More than 7,800 acres from 26 villages nearby the Letpadaung mountain range were seized for the project. Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi is now leading a 30-member investigation team formed by the government to probe the recent violence in Monywa and advise whether the project should continue. Suu Kyi told The Irrawaddy in Monywa that future action would be conducted through this parliamentary commission. “I shall look into this kind of problem further depending on the situation. Police officials told me they will take action on those responsible for the crackdown,” she said.
After her public speech at Monywa, the Nobel laureate met police officers in Sagaing Division. However, Sagaing Division Chief Minister ex-Lt-Gen Tha Aye was absent from these discussions. After meeting with security personnel, she also met villagers and monks who had been hurt during the raid. Despite growing public anger towards Wan Bao Company, some observers have warned people to beware of protesting because of the firm’s connections with the military-owned UMEHL.
Chan Htun, a veteran politician and former Burmese ambassador to China, told The Irrawaddy on Monday, “I want to urge all concerned stakeholders to solve this problem respectfully because it could even spread nationwide as monks get involved in the protest.” Even though the Chinese and Burmese authorities have a good relationship, public sentiment could grow as people see images of Buddhist monks being brutally beaten and burnt, said Chan Htun. “It could become a nationwide issue if the authorities don’t handle it carefully,” he added.
Slovenia:Three arrested “for organizing riots”
LJUBLJANA — The Slovenian police have arrested three people on suspicion that they organized riots during the protests in Ljubljana on Friday. All of them have previous criminal records, according to reports. STA news agency reported that the police said they would “do everything to prove their criminal offenses and bring them to justice”. The statement added that the suspects, who were arrested on Sunday, would be brought before an investigative judge within 48 hours.
Head of the Ljubljana Police Stanislav Veniger revealed that the violence during the protests was organized by several dozen people, “who were joined by hundreds of hooligans”, adding that the police investigation was still ongoing. The demonstrations in Ljubljana on Friday gathered some 10,000 people, who protested against Slovenian elites and expressed their discontent with the social and economic situation in the country. But the peaceful protest turned violent, with the unrest lasting late into the night. Dozens were injured, including 11 policemen, while more than 30 protesters were detained, and then released on Saturday. For the first time in Slovenia’s two-decade history as a state, its police on Friday used water cannons to disperse rioters. New protests were announced for Monday in the towns of Ljubljana, Maribor, Celje, Ptuj and Ravne na Koroškem.
SL military threatens senior faculty members of Jaffna University
The occupying military of genocidal Sri Lanka individually approached the Deans and former Deans of all the faculties of the University of Jaffna to threaten them not to take up the issue of the students arrested following the Heroes Day observations, news sources in Jaffna said. Parallely, the military also went in search of a student leader at Thiruvaiyaa’ru in Ki’linochchi last night.
The University remains vacated as student leaders are forced into hiding. A protest demonstration by the Medical Faculty of the university scheduled for Monday was cancelled, as the Administration of the university advised against it, citing ‘secret negotiations’ taking place between the university and the occupying military at the Palaali base.
However, the University of Jaffna Teachers Association is firm that all the arrested students have to be released without charges, the news sources further said. In any case, whether by prosecuting the students or by releasing them, the occupying Sri Lanka wishes to achieve the purpose of silencing all future democratic struggles coming from the university, commented a new generation political activist in Jaffna. Unless the genocidal state is countered in an appropriate way by the world, the state would endlessly continue with this kind of activities, the activist said.
Prisoners to repeat solidarity hunger strike Tuesday
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails will go on hunger strike again this Tuesday to show support to long-term hunger strikers, the Palestinian Authority ministry of prisoners affairs said.
Last Tuesday, prisoners launched a solidarity strike in support of the Ayman Sharawna, Samer Issawi and Odai Kilani. The ministry said inmates warn that “the situation inside prisons will explode if anything bad happens to them.” The statement said Sharwana, on hunger strike for 156 days, is unable to sleep and has lost 90 percent of eyesight in his right eye. Issawi, on hunger strike for 125 days, suffers continual fainting and cannot use his right leg and hand, it continued. Issawi, from Jerusalem, and Sharawna, from Hebron were both released under the 2011 prisoner swap deal but rearrested shortly after, and are being held without charge. Kilani, who is from Tubas, has refused food for 43 days to protest the renewal of his administrative detention order.