Protesters enter Labor Ministry
ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Protesters forced their way into a government building in central Athens and threatened a minister on Wednesday, as riot police intervened with batons, pepper spray and tear gas to expel them. At least one person was taken to a hospital after scuffles took place inside and in front of the Labor Ministry building. At least another two collapsed from the effects of pepper spray and were treated by other protesters on the spot.
The protest by a few hundred people was organized by a Communist-backed labor union. The government said damage was caused inside the office of the minister, Yianni Vroutsi, and threats made against the minister himself. More than 30 protesters were detained, with further scuffles breaking out as the crowd attempted to stop the bus transporting them from leaving. Those detained were driven to police headquarters, with the demonstrators following on foot and protesting outside. “Violence in all its forms must be condemned, not only in words but also by actions,” government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou said.
“The raid on the office of the labour minister, the material destruction and the threats against Yianni Vroutsi are practices which aim to dynamite the political climate at a very critical time for the country.”
Security Forces Attack Political Prisoners in S. Arabia’s Notorious Prison
TEHRAN (FNA)- The Saudi security forces on Wednesday attacked political prisoners in the country’s notorious Al Hayer prison for the second time in less than a week. Hayer is a Saudi maximum-security facility located approximately 25 miles South of Riyadh. It is Saudi Arabia’s largest prison. The Saudi security forces attacked Hayer prisoners after a group of inmates went on strike today, Aljazeera Alarabiya news agency reported on Wednesday.
The attack came after the security forces attacked and beat up several prisoners some days ago, and seized their personal belongings. In October, some 100 political prisoners in Al Hayer prison went on hunger strike to protest against the growing number of food poisoning incidents. A report by Aljazeera Alarabiya quoted sources from inside the prison as saying that 100 prisoners went on hunger strike after frequent food poisoning incidents.
The report said that prisoners in Saudi jails are deprived of minimum food and health services and are under severe mental, psychological and physical duress and torture. The report came a month after a large number of protestors staged a demonstration in front of a Saudi prison in Qassim province to demand the release of their relatives who have been arrested and locked up by the al-Saud regime for political reasons. The Saudi security forces blockaded the roads around the desert prison in Central Saudi Arabia where relatives of inmates were staging a demonstration to demand their release.
Zhu Baosheng among more than 10 protesters who face criminal charges
More than 10 people who participated in a mass demonstration in July against plans to build an industrial sewage pipeline in a port city near Shanghai face criminal charges for offences that include overturning cars and ransacking government offices, according to mainland media reports. Among those facing charges in Qidong, Jiangsu, is Zhu Baosheng, who allegedly forced the city’s mayor, Xu Feng, to wear a T-shirt with anti-pollution slogans during the protest. Zhu, 43, is accused of “assembling crowds to attack a state organ” and will stand trial today, according to his lawyer, Zhang Peihong .
“Local prosecutors indicted Zhu as an active participant in the alleged offence, which could land him in prison for up to five years if he is found guilty,” Zhang said. “Under mainland law, a suspended sentence could be given … but it seems that the local government does not want to grant him probation, based on the feedback I’ve received so far.” It was unclear whether Zhu is the first among the protestors to be put on trial, but the 21st Century Business Herald reported on Saturday that the trials for about 10 others would begin this week. According to the indictment, Zhu is accused of leading a crowd that broke through a police cordon and rushed into the city government headquarters on July 28. “Together with others, Zhu smashed a clock in the lobby inside the building,” the indictment says
. “He then climbed on top of a black sedan and displayed and distributed items taken from the building to the surrounding crowd … Zhu also assaulted a government official.” Tens of thousands demonstrated against a Japanese-owned paper factory’s wastewater pipeline plan, fearing it could pollute a nearby fishing port. After breaking into the building, the mob threw documents out windows and seized cigarettes and bottles of wine from offices. The protest was seen as a victory for local residents, because the Qidong government then scrapped the plan soon after the protest. But putting protesters on trial suggests the local government is seeking retribution. Zhu was detained in August for “disturbing social order”, a lighter accusation, but is now being prosecuted under a more severe charge, Zhang said.
“The local government should also bear some responsibility for the protest, due to its poor transparency on industrial plans,” Zhang said. “It will anger the public again if Zhu, as well as other protesters, are handed heavy sentences.”
High-Schoolers March Over Fees
Authorities at a high school in the northern Chinese province of Shanxi promised to cancel an increase in heating charges on Tuesday after hundreds of students ditched class and staged protests over high utility bills, school officials said. Up to 1,000 students at the Xin county No. 3 High School in Lulian city had marched to county government offices on Monday to protest at what they called “random” heating fees and charges. Photos uploaded to social media sites showed students climbing in over the high fence of the government compound, after they were refused permission to enter the gates.
An employee who answered the phone at the Xin county police department said the march had been orderly and peaceful. “Things didn’t get too heated, and no-one was injured,” the employee said. “The students’ mood was calm, and they have already gone back to class.” “They were mostly senior high school students, and it was organized by them; they were all about 15 or 16, in the second year of senior high school,” he said. “The police who came back from the scene said that it was over a rise in the heating fees for the school,” the employee added. The school appeared to react quickly to appease the students, however. “We have already decided that the [heating] fees will remain at their original level,” a spokesperson for the Xin County No. 3 High School said on Tuesday. “We won’t be raising the fees now.”
Eyewitnesses also said the students had marched alongside some parents to the government. “We know that they went to the county government to make a complaint, and that it was about random and excessive fees and charges,” a shop owner near the school said. An official who answered the phone at the Xin county government offices confirmed the protest had taken place. “The students and parents were just coming to make clear their demands,” the official said.” “The education department is involved [in mediating the dispute] now,” the official said. “But the parents seem to think the county government is omnipotent. All we can do is play a mediating role.” But he added: “The education department is now looking into the matter, to judge whether or not the fees are reasonable.”
The official said the majority of fees charged by state-run schools were dictated by regulations, however. “However, there are some fees and charges that aren’t covered by the system, so the schools can set those for themselves.” Retired Shandong University professor Sun Wenguang said that unreasonable and arbitrary fees were commonplace in China. “There’s not enough funding coming down from higher levels of government, and prices just keep on rising, so schools are having to spend more and more,” Sun said. “Resources are unfairly divided, with some key schools receiving the lion’s share, forcing other schools to put up fees,” he said. “Some charge more, others a bit less.” “For example, the cost of heating the school is paid by the students,” he said.