Azerbaijan police arrest youths at anti-government protest
(Reuters) – Police arrested about 40 activists demonstrating in Azerbaijan’s capital on Saturday against President Ilham Aliyev’s government and voicing support for residents of a northern town where protests were crushed this week. More than 100 protesters gathered in central Baku, some chanting “Freedom!” and calling for the resignation of Aliyev, who succeeded his father in 2003 and has tolerated little dissent in the oil-producing former Soviet republic. Police swiftly stopped the protest, forcing demonstrators out of a park and then arresting some in the street.
The protest was triggered by unrest in Ismailli, about 200 km (125 miles) northwest of Baku, where police used teargas and water cannon on Thursday to disperse hundreds of protesters demanding the resignation of a regional leader. Cars were torched and a hotel set ablaze in a night of rioting. The protests and rioting in the small town reflect frustration at what some Azeris see as an overbearing government, corruption and a big divide between rich and poor in the mostly Muslim Caspian Sea nation of nine million.
Resentment runs deep in Azeri town hit by rioting
(Reuters) – The charred remains of a hotel are the only overt sign of rioting that swept this small Azeri town this week, but the resentment that fuelled the violence is hard to miss. The Ismailli riot was quashed as quickly by police as other protests in the former Soviet republic but sent a warning to President Ilham Aliyev: Patience is wearing thin with the huge wealth gap a decade after he succeeded his long-ruling father. Ismailli, with its dreary one-storey Soviet-era buildings, shows no sign of benefiting from the vast oil and natural gas riches that have helped transform parts of the capital Baku into a showcase of shimmering glass and metal where luxury cars cruise next to the Caspian Sea.
Residents of the town of 15,000, about 200 km (125 miles) northwest of Baku, complain of corruption across the tightly controlled country of nine million, an overbearing government and a lack of jobs, money and prospects. They said Thursday’s rioting was spontaneous, caused by anger over what one called the “unacceptable behavior of rich guys from the capital” suspected of involvement in a car accident, but that passions were fed by deep-seated resentment.
“Their behavior was just the last straw and became a reason for the disturbances,” said Mamed, a 50-year-old man who declined to give his full name. Samir, a 26-year-old market stall holder, said: “The people in the leadership of our country care only about their own interests and forget about ordinary people like us.” Squeezed between Iran and Russia, mainly Muslim Azerbaijan is a transit hub for U.S. troops based in Afghanistan – a role its critics say limits Western powers’ willingness to sanction Baku over human rights abuses and concerns about democracy.
Azerbaijan also supplies energy to Europe and Western oil companies who are involved in bringing Caspian oil through the Caucasus country would be concerned by any widespread violence and instability. But few would expect that to happen now, months before a presidential election due in October. “I don’t believe that this situation can spread to other regions as there is no basis for that,” Ali Akhmedov, deputy chairman of the ruling Yeni Azerbaijan party, told a meeting with residents on Friday. “And it’s not linked to this being an election year. There are just some destructive forces inside the country who are interested in the destabilization of the situation, but they are weak.”
STRUGGLE TO MAKE ENDS MEET
The Chirag Hotel was a target of the rioters because it was owned by the driver involved in the car accident. His wealth and brash behavior had long upset the locals, some residents said. All that is left of the hotel now is some burnt black walls. It was set ablaze by a crowd of 3,000 after a mass brawl that started after the owner drove his car into an electricity pole and was suspected of being drunk. Overt displays of wealth, common among the lucky few who have struck it rich across the former Soviet Union, breed discontent among those at the other end of the scale who are just struggling to make ends meet. “Our main problem is unemployment.
There are no jobs at all and local government does not do anything to help us,” said a 57-year-old woman who identified herself only as Elmira. She has made her living at the local fruit and vegetable market since the closure of the tobacco factory where she used to work. Her state pension is 200 manats, 80 manats of which she pays for electricity and other public services. Her disabled husband receives a minimum pension of 70 manats, and her two sons are unemployed. Samir, the market stall holder, said he used to work in a shop in Baku but had returned to his native town two years ago after losing his job in the capital. “I earn about 300 manats ($375) each month, but how can you live on this money with wife and a kid,” he says.
26 dead in Egypt clashes sparked by football verdicts
PORT SAID, Egypt — Twenty-six people were killed in Egypt’s Port Said on Saturday when 21 supporters of a local football club were sentenced to death over a bloody post-match riot last year in the canal city. The clashes erupted after a Cairo court handed down the sentences over the riot last February in which 74 people were killed, and came a day after violence swept Egypt on the second anniversary of its uprising.
As news of the verdicts emerged, relatives of those condemned tried to storm the prison in Port Said where they are being held, leading to fierce clashes with security forces. Unidentified assailants used automatic weapons against police who responded with tear gas, witnesses said. Two police stations in Port Said were stormed, an AFP correspondent said, and heavy gunfire could be heard in the Al-Manakh neighbourhood. Ambulances ferried the injured to hospitals, and businesses closed for the day as protesters set tyres alight and mosques urged worshippers to donate blood. Troops are being sent to Port Said, a senior army officer said.
“It has been decided to deploy some units to work for calm and stability and the protection of public establishments,” official news agency MENA quoted General Ahmed Wasfi as saying. Head of Port Said hospitals Abdelrahman Farag gave a toll of “26 people killed and 277 injured” in the violence. Two policemen were among those killed, the interior ministry said. Germany expressed its “concern” over the unrest, days ahead of a scheduled visit by President Mohamed Morsi to Berlin. The opposition threatened to boycott upcoming parliamentary polls if Morsi — facing his worst crisis since coming to power in June — does not find a “comprehensive solution” to the unrest.
The National Salvation Front, the main coalition of parties and movements opposing the ruling Islamists, called for the creation of a “national salvation” government, otherwise it will “not participate” in the election. Last February’s riots between fans of Port Said home side Al-Masry and Cairo’s Al-Ahly also sparked days of violent protests in Cairo, in which another 16 people were killed. In the capital, both inside and outside the court, there were explosions of joy at the verdict on Saturday. Women ululated, relatives hugged and shouted “Allahu Akbar” (God is greatest). One man who lost his son in Port Said wept outside the court, telling AFP: “I am satisfied with the verdict.”
Another, Hassan Mustafa, had pinned a picture of his dead friend to his chest and said he was pleased, but wanted “justice served for those who planned the killing.” Many Egyptians believe the violence was orchestrated either by the police or by supporters of ousted president Hosni Mubarak. The Cairo court has handed its verdict to Egypt’s top cleric for his final opinion, as is customary, and set March 9 for delivering verdicts on another 52 defendants, including police officers. The sentence is subject to appeal, judicial sources said. The sentences come after a day of clashes marking the revolution’s second anniversary left at least nine people dead and 530 injured. T
ens of thousands took to the streets nationwide on Friday to protest against Morsi, who is accused of failing the revolution and consolidating power in the hands of his Muslim Brotherhood. Morsi early Saturday used Twitter to appeal for calm, urging “citizens to adhere to the values of the revolution, express opinions freely and peacefully and renounce violence.” Troops in armoured vehicles deployed in Suez late on Friday, taking up positions at the entry of the canal, outside police headquarters and the governorate building. The canal authority said on Saturday shipping operations were unaffected by the violence.
A Greek ferry boat anchored in Port Said, however, was hit by apparent stray gunfire on Saturday, but no one was hurt, Greece’s foreign ministry said. Protesters also stormed government buildings in canal city Ismailiya on Friday, and torched the Muslim Brotherhood headquarters. In Cairo, police fired tear gas at protesters outside the presidential palace, scene of deadly clashes between Morsi’s allies and foes in December. German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said: “I note with concern that Egypt is unable to settle peacefully the question of the best route to pursue for a positive future for the country.”
Paraguayan Peasants Arrested Begin Hunger Strike
Asuncion, Jan 25 (Prensa Latina) Ruben Villalba, leader of the Paraguayan peasants imprisoned for their alleged role in a confrontation in June that resulted in the deaths of 17 people, began here today a hunger strike to demand freedom. “This is an indefinite hunger strike,” Villalba said Friday, despite disagreement from his lawyer, Vincent Morales, who mentioned the proximity of a hearing with the investigating judge. Villalba, who is in a prison in the southern outskirts of the capital, said in a statement that the “prosecutor is biased in the Curuguaty case, just want to charge me of the death of 11 farmers and six policemen without presenting a shred of evidence “. The another four peasants involved, who reaffirmed their innocence, announced yesterday a similar move to protest the detention and their legal situation. Juan Carlos Tillería, 39, Alcides Ramirez, 27, Luis Olmedo, 22, and Lucia Agüero, 27, are confined in the jail of Coronel Oviedo, 150 kilometers east of Asuncion. The group went already on a 59-day hunger strike until November 24. According to reports from the prosecution, the event occurred during an ambush by a group of farmers against a police contingent attempting an eviction proceeding in the forest reserve Marina Cue, in Canindeyú. The alleged attackers have insisted that the arrests stemming from that episode investigated by the prosecutor Rachid Jalil, are arbitrary. After the incident, the Paraguayan Congress conducted impeachment proceedings against then President Fernando Lugo, whose dismissal was deemed unconstitutional by several countries in the region.
Four blasts rock Imphal on R-Day eve, none hurt
Imphal, January 25 2013: Making a mockery of all the stepped-up security measures taken up ahead of Republic Day, three bombs exploded in succession this morning at Imphal, followed by another later in the evening near the Oak Tasar Farm opposite to the New Secretariat complex along NH-2 under Heingang police station. Notably the four blasts did not hurt or injure anyone. Significantly a large number of underground outfits had called for a boycott of the Republic Day celebration and imposed a general strike from midnight of January 25 to 6 pm of January 6 .
A powerful bomb exploded near the parade ground of 1st Bn Manipur Rifles at about 7.30 am today, right in the heart of the Government’s own security establishment. According to information culled from the spot, the bomb exploded on the bank of a small pond between 1st MR unit canteen and the office of quarter master. The spot where the bomb exploded was not far from the parade ground. Though there was no human casualty, a brick wall located nearby collapsed at the impact of the blast. Following the blast, all visitors and those residing in the family, and even reporters were denied entry into the 1st MR complex. After inspecting the blast site, DIG Range-I Clay Khongsai ordered a search operation inside the complex. Moreover, no vehicles were allowed to park alongside the jail road which also leads to the second entrance of the MR complex.
Notably, police have been conducting search operations in different places of Imphal valley since the past week so as to foil any subversive activities in the run up to the Republic Day. As for the MR complex where the bomb exploded today, it is guarded round the clock by its own personnel. At the time of the explosion, some people were preparing tableaus for the Republic Day parade. In the midst of all the din caused by the blast, another bomb exploded near Kei-shamthong at about 10.15 am. The bomb exploded at a garbage pit on the western bank of Nambul river opposite to Keishamthong Longjam Leirak. Even though the blast site was usually used as parking lot for auto-rickshaws besides being a site for vegetable vendors, no one was hurt in the explosion. A police team led by Imphal West SDPO N Modhunimai later came to the spot and made a field inspection.
It is suspected that the bomb was an IED of mild intensity which did not have splinters. About half an hour later, another bomb exploded at another garbage alongside a road near RDS High School, Purana Rajbari in Imphal East district at about 10.45 am. This time too, there was no casualty. It was suspected that the third bomb was similar to the second one. Imphal East SP Kamei Angam Romanus inspected the blast site. Following the serial blasts, no vehicles were allowed to park on vehicles were allowed to park on the either side of the road between Moirangkhom and Khoyathong. Subsequent upon the triple blasts, security measures have been tightened all the more apart from deployment of CRPF personnel including women, said a senior police officer. Moreover, medians of all the important roads of Imphal city where the Republic Day parade would pass by have been scanned using sniffer dogs.
Anti-capitalist group bomb Credit Suisse bank and home of finance company Glencore’s boss
Anti-capitalist activists protesting against the World Economic Forum in Davos have claimed responsibility for explosions that broke a window at a Zurich branch of Credit Suisse and blew up the postbox of the boss of commodity trader Glencore. Police confirmed on Friday that attacks had been made on a Credit Suisse branch in the upmarket residential area of Hottingen and a postbox in the lakeside suburb of Rueschlikon in the early hours of Thursday morning. Credit Suisse confirmed a security window of its branch had been shattered.
Police said the damage, caused by an unidentified explosive device, amounted to several thousand francs. A spokesman for Zurich police said investigations were continuing into who was behind the attacks and what had caused the explosions, while Glencore confirmed an incident had taken place on the property of CEO Ivan Glasenberg. No-one was injured in either attack. An unnamed group posted a letter on the indymedia.ch website claiming responsibility for the attacks. The letter said the group had targeted Credit Suisse and Glasenberg due to their support of the WEF. In the letter, the activists criticised poor working conditions at Glencore and said it had targeted Credit Suisse for a host of reasons, including food price speculation, mass job losses and ‘betting against the Greek people’.
Kenya: Protest By Boda Boda Operators Paralyses Transport in Narok Town
THERE was tension in Narok town on Wednesday evening after police and boda boda operators engaged in running battles for more than two hours. They blocked the busy Narok-Bomet road using rocks and lit bonfires paralysing transport. Hundreds of commuters including tourists visiting the world-famous Maasai Mara were stranded for several hours.
Vehicles from Nairobi were caught up in a traffic snarl up that stretched as far as Ole Tipis Secondary School, while those from Western Kenya reached at Total area. The more than 2,000 angry Boda-Boda operators were protesting against police harassment. Trouble started when traffic officers started a crackdown against vehicles that are flouting the new traffic laws. Several riders were arrested.
The boda boda operators claimed the police have been arresting them and imposing huge fines. Police were called to stop the demonstrating riders and disperse them after they were joined by the wananchi. “Our families depend on us from this motorbike business, when police arrest us and impose huge fines, we are reduced to nothing,” said one of the boda boda operators. But the Narok traffic police boss Joe Hamisi said most of the road accidents which take place in Narok are caused by the riders because of negligence and disregard of the traffic rules. “The boda boda operators are flouting the rules. We are not going to allow the operators to conduct their businesses with impunity,” said Hamisi.
They must obey the traffic law.” He said police had impounded more than 50 motorcycles operating illegally. Hamisi said most of the operators did not have insurance, licence, reflector jackets and helmets. “The culture of impunity must stop,” said the traffic boss.