Riots break out in Manokwari
Hundreds of angry protestors set fire to two police posts at Sanggeng market and Amban in Manokwari, West Papua, on Wednesday after police shot dead escaped convict Timotius AP as he attempted to avoid being returned to Manokwari penitentiary.
“Demonstrators started a riot in Manokwari, they vandalized a number of food stalls at the Manokwari Port, set fire to two police posts and blockaded streets, which paralyzed traffic in the city,” said Papua Police spokesman Adj. Sr. Comr. I Gede Sumerta Jaya. The demonstrators paraded an empty coffin symbolizing the dead Timotius whose remains were in a funeral house in Venindi beach. As the crowd approached Manokwari Port, they met the police riot control unit and the trouble began.
“We immediately closed our shops as people went on a rampage in the streets, burning tires and shouting. We are still afraid to reopen our shops,” Erni, a Manokwari resident, told The Jakarta Post. Erni said her neighbors’ businesses also remained closed for fear of further rioting. In July this year, Timotius, a recidivist convict responsible for numerous crimes, including robbery and rape, escaped from the Manokwari penitentiary but was recaptured and returned to prison on Sept. 13. Three days later, on Sept. 16, he fled again and was arrested on Dec. 4 at around 5 p.m. local time.
Officers shot him in the course of the arrest. “He was rushed to the Manokwari Naval Hospital at 6 p.m. but doctors pronounced him dead upon arrival,” said Sumerta. Police found a homemade pistol and caliber 5.56 ammunition on Timotius. His body was returned to his parents-in-law’s house on Jl. Baru, Manokwari. Sumerta said the situation in the city had returned to normal, with only light congestion in a few places.
Paraguayan farmers question probe into killings
Lucia Aguero stood with the other farmers in the standoff. About 300 of them had occupied the rich politician’s land that they insisted wasn’t legally his. On the other side of the clearing were some 200 riot police. She watched as the two negotiators walked up to each other and began talking. And then the shooting started. The negotiators were both hit. The young woman threw herself to the ground, shielding a friend’s 4-year-old boy beneath her as she felt a bullet’s sting in her thigh.
In the end, 17 were dead, including the men who were trying to resolve the six-week-old occupation. Politicians opposed to President Fernando Lugo seized on the “Massacre of Curuguaty” on June 15 to vote the sandal-wearing leftist out of office for “mismanaging” the property dispute.
Paraguayans’ hopes that Lugo would make good on his promises of land reform died. Six months after the shootout, there has been no official accounting of how a peaceful negotiation ended with a barrage of bullets that killed 11 farmers and six police officers. Farmers and their supporters say the official investigation is a one-sided effort to make an example of the farmers, so nobody will dare challenge the interests of powerful landowners ever again.
Grieving relatives suspect the dead farmworkers were wounded and then summarily executed by police after the firefight. In separate interviews, they described bullet wounds in three of the corpses that they said showed people were shot at close range in defensive positions.
Catalino Aguero, Lucia’s father, lost his 24-year-old son, De los Santos, in the firefight. “They gave me my son’s decomposing body in a black plastic bag. He had bullet wounds in both feet, but a huge hole in his neck,” Aguero said. “Witnesses of the tragedy told me my son begged for help, lying face down, because his wounds were painful, but a police officer came close and shot him.” His daughter Lucia, a 25-year-old mother of two, was arrested along with 11 other people, mostly farmers.
She was taken to a hospital emergency room after she was wounded, but doctors were too busy with other victims to remove the bullet from her thigh. “When I couldn’t stand the pain any longer, I used a razor blade in jail to make a cut, and pulled out the .38-caliber bullet with my finger,” she said Aguero joined a hunger strike to protest being jailed without formal charges. She lasted 59 days, and nearly died before a judge said she and three others could return home under police custody until a hearing Dec. 17.
Tunisia calls protest strike against Islamic government
TUNIS,Dec 5 (Reuters) – Tunisia’s largest union called on Wednesday for a general protest strike next week against the Islamist-led government in an escalation of protests that resulted in violent clashes in the capital this week. On Tuesday, several hundred Islamists armed with knives and sticks charged a gathering of members of the UGTT union in the capital and broke office windows with stones. Police had to intervene to separate the two groups.
“The UGTT decided to go on strike on December 13, after the attack on the central trade unions and trade unionists on Tuesday,” the union said in a statement on Wednesday. The announcement came as Tunisia prepared to mark the second anniversary of a street peddler’s self-immolation on Dec. 17, 2010, that led to a revolution in Tunisia and set the region on the path to uprisings in Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Syria and Bahrain. UGTT Secretary-General Hussein Abassi accused supporters of the Ennahda party, which leads the government, of being behind the recent clash. But Rached Ghannouchi, the head of Ennahda, condemned the violence and said some leaders of UGTT wanted to overthrow the government.
The headquarters of all national bodies needed to be “emptied of all tools of violence”, the party said. Ennahda came to power following the ousting of former leader Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, whose police state had repressed Islamists and promoted secularism. The strike by UGTT, which has 500,000 members, would be the first of its kind in Tunisia since 1984.
Students clash with police in Athens
A new spat of clashes has flared up in downtown Athens on the fourth anniversary of the 15-year-old boy’s killing by a police officer, with Greek students throwing stones and Molotov cocktails at the riot police. Some two thousand young Greeks have taken to the streets shouting “child killers” at the 5,000-strong police force that spotted special security officers. Thessaloniki was among the first cities to report demonstrations. Police are said to be firing sound and light grenades at a thousand-strong crowd of protesters.
Left-wing terror trial enters final phase
The prosecution and defence have been presenting their closing arguments in the ongoing trial of the five young men accused of arson, though they unsurprisingly don’t agree on whether the attacks constitute terrorism. Prosecutor Bo Bjerregaard argued that the men were guilty of attacks that were intended to terrorise and cause massive damage. “They acted with the intention of scaring the population,” Bjerregaard said according to Ritzau. “This also includes actions whose goal alone is to create unrest and chaos.” Four of the men were caught red-handed attempting to set fire to a police school, while a fifth man was later arrested.
They are also accused of varying degrees of complicity in an arson attack against the Greek Embassy, as well as planning attacks against targets that included Maersk and the parliament building. The four men pleaded guilty to the arson attack against the police school, but denied it was terrorism.
All five pleaded not guilty to planning attacks against targets that the prosecution argues were selected as representations of the state or the system. “If you add that to the fact that the men were closely associated to the extreme left-wing community, it indicates terrorism,” Bjerregaard said. Earlier in the trial, an analyst from the domestic intelligence agency PET supported the prosecutor’s view. “Banks, multinational companies and private businesses are all legitimate targets of militant left-wing extremists,” analyst Jesper Jespersen said, according to Jyllands-Posten newspaper. But Thorkild Højer, defence lawyer for one of the men, argued that the men’s actions could hardly be considered terrorism as people were not the targets of the attacks. “[The attacks] were characterised by the fact that they did not target people,” Højer said.
“They were symbolic in character and a sort of manifestation that did not harm anyone.” He added that in order for it to be deemed terrorism, their actions would have to have the intention of “seriously scaring a population”, a condition that he argues has not been met. “We don’t even know if anyone was frightened [by their actions],” Højer said. “Who have they been trying to scare? If they had a motivation to terrorise, where is their declaration of intent?” Hanne Reumert, defence lawyer for another of the accused, used a similar argument. “How can you attempt the threaten a whole population if no one knows what you’re doing?” she asked, according to Jyllands-Posten. Evidence found in the men’s homes and computers, as well as audio surveillance gathered from the men’s meeting place in Christiania, has been used by the prosecution both to link the men to other arson attacks as well as suggest the attacks were politically motivated.
Some of the men admit to making and storing Molotov cocktails like the one used against the Greek Embassy and police school. Internet searches of Greek anarchist groups were also found on some of the men’s computers, along with copies of the instruction manual ‘The Anarchist’s Cookbook’. All five men on trial are ethnic Danes, marking the first time that anti-terrorism legislation, first passed by parliament in 2002, has been used to prosecute Danish suspects. A verdict is expected a week on Thursday.