Thousands of Greek anarchists protest squatters’ court arraignment in Athens rally
ATHENS, Greece – Thousands of Greek anarchists marched through central Athens Saturday to protest the arraignment of nearly 92 people who tried to reoccupy a long-term squat evacuated by police last week. The crowd, estimated at 3,000 by police and 8,000 by organizers, marched to the Athens law courts where the squatters were arraigned and started to disperse when authorities began to release the arraigned individuals.
All 92 have been provisionally released and a later court date will be set, where they will appear on charges of trespassing on public property. Unusually for an anarchist march, it ended virtually without incident, despite the close presence of riot police. Earlier Saturday, police were seen at subway station entrances quietly searching, and apprehending individuals under suspicion of carrying rocks, batons and other projectiles.
Boda boda riders battle police in Kisii riot
MORE than 2000 angry boda boda operators in Kisii yesterday barricaded the Kisii-Kilgoris road to protest what they termed as harrassment by police. The clashes came after an operation by the area traffic police, led by base commander James Ekwenye, launched an operation against offenders.
Ekwenye attributed most of the road accidents in the town to lack of regard for traffic rules by the motorcycles and vowed not to relent in the crackdown “We are not going to allow the operators to conduct their businesses with impunity. They must obey the new traffic rules,” Ekwenye after his men had dispersed the unruly riders and members of the public who had joined their protest. He said most of the 43 motorcycles impounded were operating illegally because they had no licenses and the riders had no licences, reflector jackets and helmets. Ekwenye together with his officers were compelled to lobby tear gas canisters to disperse the operators and members of the public who joined them in barricading the road. “We are not going to bend even if they confront us.
The operators must abide the law to letter if they want to go on with their businesses,” added the base commander. The traffic commander at the same time blamed owners for employing underage boys as cyclists saying they risk high fines. Ekwenye said: “The owners are not managing their businesses well because if they do then they should not employ underage boys who not posses licenses even the experience required,”
On Thursday the operators clashed with traffic police officers over harassment claims which the Ekwenye dismissed saying they were just making noise because they know nothing about the new law. The operators numbering about 300 and who were carrying stones forced the officers to scamper for their safety. Ekwenye said that Kisii operators need be sentisitized on the importance of observing the laws as they are laid down to avoid such confrontations.
Fresh clashes erupt in Tunisia town
BEN GUERDANE (Tunisia), 13 JAN: Clashes broke out again between residents and police in Ben Guerdane near Tunisia’s border with Libya after nearly a week of demonstrations over poor living conditions. Ben Guerdane, around 30 km (20 miles) from the border, has witnessed sporadic unrest since last Sunday, fuelled by Tripoli’s decision to close the Ras Jdir border crossing in early September for security reasons.
Dozens of youths, many of them masked, gathered outside the police station, which was torched on Thursday, and threw stones at police who responded with tear gas, a journalist reported. By late afternoon the policemen evacuated the station to seek shelter in the headquarters of the national guard, and a tense calm spread over the region. In the evening, fresh clashes erupted and protesters torched the police station again, with demonstrators saying the violence was fuelled by comments made by Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali.
“The state understands (protesters’) demands and respects freedom of expression, but it does not tolerate vandals, drug traffickers and aggressors,” the official TAP news agency quoted Jebali as saying about the unrest. Earlier in the day protesters hurled abuse at the ruling Islamist Ennahda party, whose local headquarters were also ransacked this week. A customs office was also torched.
“Ben Guerdane is Free! Jebali out!” the protesters chanted, two days ahead of the second anniversary of the revolution that sparked off the Arab Spring. The latest demonstration came as representatives of the authorities, trade unions and local tribes met in Ben Guerdane in an attempt to thrash out a solution to the crisis. But Amar Hamdi, who heads the local branch of Tunisia’s main trade union confederation, the UGTT, said the talks had foundered, and blamed the government.
“The authorities say this is a security problem, but we want development projects” for the region, Hamdi said, denouncing the fact that “no member of the government has come to Ben Guerdane to try to resolve the problem.” Despite the border crossing being reopened on Thursday, the local UGTT branch went ahead with a general strike in the town to demand investment and jobs, with only chemists, hospitals and bakeries remaining open.
Farmer workers to intensify strike Cape Town –
Farm workers in the Western Cape will intensify their strike in the coming week, Cosatu said on Sunday. “The farmworkers have taken a decision to intensify the strike, because the farmers are not serious about the negotiations to find a solution,” said Congress of SA Trade Unions Western Cape secretary Tony Ehrenreich. “Some farmers have indicated their willingness to increase above R100, but a number of bad farmers are opposing this,” he said. The farmworkers were also rejecting a call made by the African National Congress for them to suspend the strike.
“This is not political…. This strike can only be called off by workers and they have said it will continue until a living wage is paid,” said Ehrenreich Negotiations with some farmers had shown progress, he said, adding that if agreements were reached with farmers in particular areas, the strike would end in those areas. He said farmworkers were calling on Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant, Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies, Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel and President Jacob Zuma to intervene in the strike. Farmworkers went on strike last year in demand of an increase in their daily wage from R69 ti R150, and a coherent land reform programme.
The strike was suspended in December, but resumed on Wednesday During the often violent strike, farmworkers have barricaded roads, stoned motorists and burnt property belonging to the farms. Farmworkers were calling on for retailers to boycott the “bad farmers” who did not want to heed their demands, said Ehrenreich. “Cosatu is calling on its members… not to handle the fruit and not to load any fruit onto the ships for export,” he said. “There has also been a call from workers for the food and fruit processing plants to also come and join the protest action.
” Ehrenreich said workers were willing to suspend the strike “should government come to the party” on Monday. Meanwhile, police said there situation was quiet on Sunday, with no violent protests reported. “We are still keeping a huge police presence in all the affected areas to monitor the situation,” said Warrant Officer November Filander. A total of 125 people have been arrested since the beginning of the strike, mainly for public violence. – Sapa
Madagascar forces free hostage Rio Tinto boss from mine
(AFP) – o ANTANANARIVO — Madagascan troops and police fired teargas Saturday to disperse hundreds of protesters and free nearly 200 employees of mining giant Rio Tinto, including its local chief executive, who were trapped inside a mine, authorities said. “Soldiers surprised the protesters early this morning, dispersed them and could then free the staff,” said Guillaume Venance, traditional leader of the Anosy region on the southeastern tip of the island.
A combined force of soldiers, police and paratroopers carried out the operation at Rio Tinto QIT Madagascar Minerals (QMM), he said. “The protesters were harmless because they had drunk and smoked too much, but others arrived to their rescue and we had to fire teargas to disperse them,” Venance told AFP. Authorities stopped attempts to set fire to staff houses in the mine compound, Venance added.
Local residents armed with spears and slingshots launched the protest Wednesday against what they complained were the low prices the company paid to buy their land, and to call for more locals to be hired at the company’s mineral sands operation near the town of Fort-Dauphin. The protest trapped nearly 200 employees inside the mine. Some were evacuated Thursday, but QMM chief executive Nyfanja Rakotomalala and 178 others had still been trapped in the compound.
The company earlier threatened to abandon its operations if the blockage was not lifted. The land dispute has raged since the Anglo-Australian mining giant set up shop in the Indian Ocean island state. Locals accuse the company of paying as little as 100 ariary ($0.04, 0.03 euro) per square kilometre of land.