KIO condemns ‘chemical’ attacks
The Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) on Monday condemned the violent crackdown by riot police on peaceful protesters, including hundreds of monks, at the Latpadaung Mountain copper mine site in Sagaing Division, and said that it is deeply saddened by the incident. “The KIO cannot accept that the police violently attacked the protesters as if they were an enemy with weapons,” said KIO spokesman La Nang.
“We sympathize with the victims. This is unforgivable. Using chemical weapons to crack down on unarmed peaceful protesters was a dishonorable act by a government that says it is carrying out reforms.” However, this government is just the latest in a series of administrations including Ne Win’s military junta that have fired on demonstrators, he said. He added that Burmese government forces also use chemical weapons in their conflict with the KIO in Kachin State. “The Burmese army uses chemical weapons in our Kachin area,” he told Mizzima. “Up to the present day, we have soldiers who were poisoned by chemical weapons fired by government forces.
“That’s why we can empathize with the Buddhist monks and laypeople who were attacked with chemical weapons. We want to say that we are deeply saddened,” said the KIO spokesman. La Nang said there were some 30 Kachin soldiers injured by chemical weapons at the front line. “Some of them can walk but others have not recovered,” he said. The KIO spokesman said that President Thein Sein must bear responsibility for the incident at the Latpadaung copper mine site.
Meanwhile, fighting continues in Kachin State. During dry season, the Burmese army commonly launches ground offensives against ethnic armies. The KIO say fighting occurred in the Pangwa area on December 1 – 2 when the Burmese army’s battalions 74 and 77 attacked bases of the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), the KIO’s military wing. Similarly, there were clashes in Sadon and Waingmaw, both KIO-controlled areas, over the past three days, said La Nang.
On Sunday, La Nang said, two more battalions from the 99th Light Infantry Division traveled from Lashio in northern Shan State to Mansi Township in Kachin State where they launched an attack on the KIA’s Brigade 3. And again at Hpakant, a jade-rich township, two battalions of the government’s 99th Light Infantry Division launched an offensive against the KIA on Monday, he said.
Violent mass protest continue in Slovenia
(Reuters) – Protesters clashed with police in Slovenia’s second largest city Maribor on Monday in a demonstration against budget cuts in the financially troubled Alpine state. Police said more than 20 people were arrested in Maribor and at least one policeman was injured after some from a crowd of around 6,000 protesters threw firecrackers, fireworks and rocks. Protesters were demanding the resignation of the Mayor Franc Kangler who has been accused of corruption. Kangler was expelled from the Slovenian People’s Party, a junior partner in Prime Minister Janez Jansa’s conservative coalition, in November due to allegations of corruption, but has so far refused to resign as mayor.
Protests, organized via Facebook, passed off peacefully in five other cities after an outburst of violence at a protest in the capital Ljubljana on Friday, two days before the presidential election. Demonstrators said Sunday’s election of former centre-left prime minister, Borut Pahor, to the largely ceremonial post of president will not improve conditions in a country badly hit by the global downturn due to its dependency on exports.
“We want deep changes in society and not a change of the leaders’ names. We need changes in the banking system, improvement of the system of democracy and of the social state,” said Asja, a 21-year philosophy student protesting in Ljubljana. Slovenia, which joined the euro zone in 2007, is now struggling to avoid a bailout amid recession, high unemployment and a rising number of bad loans in local banks. The government plans to cut public sector wages, reduce most welfare benefits, raise the retirement age and cut spending on schools and health in order to reduce the budget deficit to some 3 percent of GDP next year from 4.2 percent expected in 2012.
Cleveland rally in wake of police shooting
CLEVELAND, Ohio — About 60 people this afternoon protested the police shooting of two people by Cleveland police in East Cleveland on Thursday. The group Black on Black Crime organized the rally, which included prayers, chanting and a brief march that ended outside Heritage Middle School, where the shooting occurred. Thirteen Cleveland police officers fired 137 bullets Thursday at a car after a high speed chase, killing a Cleveland man and woman in East Cleveland.
Tamils protest in Sri Lanka amid post-war tension
COLOMBO — Hundreds of ethnic Tamils in Sri Lanka staged a major protest in the former war zone of Jaffna on Tuesday, the first since the end of the civil war three and a half years ago and a sign of growing tension. Local politicians joined the demonstration denouncing security forces and the government at the main bus station in Jaffna, a one-time rebel heartland in the north of the country which was run by the Tamil Tiger separatist group.
“This is the first big protest against the government since fighting ended in 2009,” Tamil lawmaker Suresh Premachandran of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) party told AFP. Premachandran, who represents the Jaffna constituency in parliament, said over 1,000 people joined the peaceful demonstration as police and troops watched from the sidelines. Last week, the TNA accused security forces of triggering unrest in Jaffna by storming Jaffna University to thwart a planned commemoration for defeated Tamil Tiger guerrillas.