Police Fire Teargas on China Village After Land Grab Protest
HONG KONG – Chinese security forces fired tear gas and beat protesters in a village in southern China on Sunday to quell a grassroots protest movement over a land dispute, residents said. Dozens of villagers were taken to hospitals in Mianhu town and Jieyang city and five people were arrested, witnesses said. A large contingent of riot police and other security personnel moved into Shangpu village in southern Guangdong province early on Sunday morning, said several residents contacted by Reuters by telephone and on microblogging sites. “They didn’t say a thing and started firing teargas and beating villagers with truncheons,” said a young villager who witnessed the incident.
“They had torches on their helmets, like miners, and were hitting some old people with truncheons who were sleeping in tents. They gave no warning.” Gongs were sounded and hundreds of villagers charged out to help those being beaten but were forced back by some 3,000 security personnel and volleys of teargas, villagers said. The unrest in Shangpu was triggered over a land deal involving some 33 hectares of rice paddies on the outskirts of the village that were leased cheaply to a firm called Wan Feng for 50 years to build an electric cable factory.
The deal, made without majority village consent, was brokered by Shangpu’s village committee chief Li Baoyu, according to a signed contract seen by Reuters. The villagers want the contract scrapped, their land returned and Li fired. In late February several hundred men, armed with steel pipes and spades, threatened the 3000-strong village to accept the land deal. Villagers, however, retaliated, chasing the men away and destroyed over 20 of their jeeps and cars. The villagers refused to allow authorities to clear away the gutted vehicles, demanding the land deal be scrapped first.
But early on Sunday, however, tow trucks cleared away most of the vehicles from a highway outside the village. A small number remained on the main street. “We tried to stop them from doing this…If they tow away the cars, they won’t do anything anymore,” said a villager. A senior villager, who delivered a written indictment against the land sale to provincial leaders including Guangdong governor Zhu Xiaodan, said he was shocked and disappointed with Communist Party authorities for cracking down in this manner. Authorities in nearby Jieyang City have verbally agreed to scrap the land deal, senior villagers say, but they have not yet been offered written proof of this. The situation in Shangpu is similar to that of another high-profile standoff over land seizures in Wukan village, about an hour’s drive away, that openly revolted for several months over murky land sales in 2011. Like Wukan, Shangpu villagers are also calling for elections to vote in a new village leader.
Arrest warrants issued for striking bazaar workers in Egypt’s Luxor
The public prosecution office in the Upper Egyptian city of Luxor on Sunday issued arrest warrants for ten leaders of an ongoing strike by local bazaar workers that led to the temporary closure of the city’s key historic sites last week. The move followed an official complaint lodged by city governor Ezzat Saad with Luxor’s prosecutor-general. For three consecutive days last week, thousands of bazaar workers blocked the road leading to the Luxor’s Valley of the Kings and Hatshepsut Temple.
The move temporarily disrupted tourist activity, with tour buses being forced to turn back and tourism agencies cancelling scheduled trips to the famous sites. Striking bazaar workers’ demands include lower rents for their shops, exemptions on paying overdue rent and judicial pardons for Karnak bazaar owners who have defaulted on rent payments. By Sunday, when the arrest warrants were issued, local authorities had met most of the strikers’ demands, according to Al-Ahram’s Luxor correspondent Iman El-Hawary.
Iranian Workers Protest For Their Backed Up Pay
Zamaneh reports that on Sunday March 10, the workers gathered again in front of the governor’s building. They carried banners and chanted protest slogans demanding immediate payment of their accrued wages and insurance benefits. The workers have gathered on several occasions in front of various ministries and each time ended their protests based on official promises by ministry and government officials to resolve the matter.
Last October 600 workers gathered in front of the ministry of labour with similar demands. In one of the gatherings reportedly one of the factory owners appears amongst the protesters and writes a cheque in the amount of their delayed wages. The report indicates that the cheque was not cashed and their demands were not finally met.
Judges, prosecutors alleged targets of terrorist DHKP/C
The Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C), a left-wing terrorist group which has intensified its terrorist activities targeting public servants and state buildings in the past year, allegedly had plans to target judges and prosecutors in future terrorist attacks. The addresses, information on identities and license plates of judges and prosecutors working at the Ankara Courthouse were found in the documents seized during a major operation conducted against the far-left DHKP/C terrorist organization in 28 provinces in February.
Soon after the documents in which the addresses of the judges and prosecutors were listed were found, the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office allegedly increased security measures for judges and prosecutors. The public prosecutor’s office changed their license plates, assigned bodyguards to protect them and has increased the number of police officers patrolling around the houses of prosecutors and judges.
Security measures were also strengthened along roads frequently used by the prosecutors and judges while the police have been alerted to keep an eye out for any suspicious packages or cars around the residential areas of the targets. According to sources within the police, the names of prosecutors who have been conducting successful investigations into the terrorist organization in recent years were particularly included on the list found in the seized documents.
A female DHKP/C suicide bomber had attempted to kill former Justice Minister Hikmet Sami Türk, an expert in constitutional law, via a bomb while Türk was about to enter a Bilkent University hall to give a lecture in Ankara in April 2009. The former justice minister escaped unscathed from the detonation of the bomb while the woman was killed in the explosion. Since then, the DHKP/C has intensified its terrorist activities targeting public servants and state buildings. The terrorist organization came onto the agenda most recently with the US Embassy attack in Ankara on Feb. 1.
A suicide bomber detonated an explosive device at the entrance of the embassy, killing himself and a Turkish security guard and critically wounding a journalist on her way to visit the ambassador. Soon after the bombing, the DHKP/C posted a statement on a website, claiming responsibility for the suicide attack, after which the group became the subject of intense scrutiny. Following the attack, the police issued warrants for the detention of 167 people and launched simultaneous operations in 28 provinces across Turkey in February, targeting the terrorist group.
Dozens of people, most of them public servants working in various state agencies and institutions, were detained in the operation on charges of being members of a terrorist group. Police seized a large number of documents and hard disks during the raids.
Small bomb explodes at Greek courier firm in Athens
ATHENS (Reuters) – A small makeshift bomb exploded at a Greek courier company in Athens on Sunday, smashing windows but causing no injuries, a Reuters witness and police officials said. The explosion damaged some vehicles parked outside the local firm and caused minor damage to several neighboring buildings. Police officials said the bomb consisted of at least five gas canisters and some explosive material.