Mexico Teacher Protests: Four Leaders Arrested During Demonstrations Against Education Reform
MEXICO CITY — Mexican prosecutors say four leaders of violent teachers protests have been arrested on charges of sedition, terrorism, rioting and property damage. The Attorney General’s Office of the southern state of Guerrero says the four have been sent to federal prisons in other states. The office said Friday that other arrest warrants are pending in the case of protests last month in which demonstrators blocked highways, battled police and trashed the offices of political parties.
The protests are being led by unionized teachers in Guerrero who oppose an educational reform law that will introduce teacher evaluation and reduce the unions’ power in hiring decisions. The teachers are demanding the law be changed, saying a simple test can’t be allowed to determine teacher performance.
Amazon Indians occupy controversial dam to demand a say
BRASILIA, May 3 (Reuters) – Amazon Indians on Friday refused to end their occupation of a building site that has partially paralyzed work on the world’s third largest hydroelectric dam for two days. Some 200 people from various indigenous groups occupied one of three construction sites of the controversial Belo Monte dam on the Xingu River on Thursday, halting work by 3,000 of the 22,000 workers on the project.
They are demanding that the Brazilian government hold prior consultations with indigenous peoples before building dams that affect their lands and livelihoods, an issue that has sparked years of protests against the Belo Monte dam. The latest protest includes 100 Munduruku Indians from the Tapajos river, the only major river in the Amazon basin with no dams but where the government plans to build a dozen to meet Brazil’s rapidly rising electricity consumption.
The government sent police and soldiers to the Tapajos River earlier this year to guard geologists and biologists whose work surveying the area for a dam was opposed by the Munduruku. “We indigenous peoples are uniting in the fight against the hydroelectric dams because our problem over there is the same as theirs here,” a leader of the group, Valdemir Munduruku, said by telephone from Belo Monte. “We are united by the disrespect of the government, the lack of consultations, the destruction of our lands,” he said.
Under Brazil’s constitution, the government must hold public hearings with people affected by its projects and it maintains that consultations were held before Belo Monte was begun. President Dilma Rousseff’s government offered to send one of her ministers, Gilberto Carvalho, to speak to them on Monday as long as they met in the local town of Altamira, Munduruku said, but the Indians are not budging from the occupied site. He said members of the local Juruna and Arara indigenous peoples would join their protest on Saturday.
Israeli mining company lay of 300 workers in Sierra Leone
A diamond mining company in Sierra Leone has laid off 300 workers in a “revenge” move against suspected perpetrators of last year`s strike. OCTEA, formerly known as Koidu Holdings Limited and Israeli-owned, is mainly run by South Africans. Last December it was involved in a strike action by junior mine workers who accused the management of racist treatment, and demanded better pay and working condition.
Two people died when police fired live rounds to disperse protesters who allegedly stoned a motorcade of the Minister of Mines when a five-day sit-down strike degenerated into riot in the eastern diamond-rich Kono District. OCTEA subsequently sent of 420 workers on compulsory leave as a way of calming the situation, majority of whom, if not all, were involved in the strike action. Two leading members of the strikers were later charged by police for riotous conduct.
Although an OCTEA official was quoted saying the redundancy action had to do with job availability rather than the strike action, a leader of the dismissed striking miners say they were victims of revenge. Mr Arthur Kande told bi-weekly Politico newspaper on Thursday that the move amounted to revenge against some of them considered as leaders of the rebellious workers. OCTEA administrative Officer Julius Aruna insisted though that due to reduction in production in the last three months they had to let go of the 300 workers, most of whom he said worked on the company`s 180-metric tones per hour facility that is expected to more than double Sierra Leone`s diamond output from 450,000 carats to about a million carat.
The company offered to pay the dismissed workers April salaries, but only on the condition that they surrender company properties that include IDs, safety boots and uniforms. But the affected workers want three months salaries, leave allowances, and benefits. OCTEA has invested $300 million in the country. The problem in Kono exposed a divide within mine workers groups with senior workers tending to side with the employers who are seen as using the former to exploit their junior colleagues.
Thousands march in Rabat demanding jobs, pay rises
RABAT — Thousands of people took to the streets of Rabat on Wednesday demanding jobs and pay rises, during May Day demonstrations marked by tensions, with a large security contingent deployed in the Moroccan capital. Several thousand people marched up the city’s central boulevard at around midday, waving Moroccan and Berber flags, holding placards and chanting a wide range of slogans, mostly in a carnival atmosphere.
But scuffles broke out as the demonstrators passed the parliament building, with riot police beating and wounding some of the protesters. “The people want the fall of the government!” shouted members of one workers union. Another group, the workers union affiliated to the ruling Islamist Party of Justice and Development (PJD), called for an end to corruption and proclaimed its support for the king and Morocco’s ownership of the disputed Western Sahara. Many of those participating in Wednesday’s rally were unemployed graduates, or public sector employees demanding better working conditions.
“When the PJD came to power, they said they’d find a solution to the job crisis. But they’ve done nothing to help us,” said Mohammed Abdelmoneim, 27, who has been out of work since graduating last year. “We are asking for better worker conditions, a pay rise so that we can afford to feed our families,” Mohammed, a 40-year-old civil servant, told AFP. Morocco is grappling with an economic crisis linked to the problems in Europe, its top trade partner, amid widespread poverty and youth unemployment estimated to be as high as 30 percent, which causes near-daily protests in the capital.
Hundreds protest China chemical plant:
Xinhua Beijing: Hundreds of people protested against a proposed chemical plant in southwest China on Saturday, state media said, while local residents accused authorities of preventing a similar protest in another city. More than 200 protesters gathered in the city of Kunming to protest plans for a factory which will produce paraxylene (PX), a toxic petrochemical used to make fabrics, China’s official Xinhua news agency reported.
Around 1,000 people described as “onlookers” surrounded the protesters, some of whom wore face-masks and held banners, the report said, adding that police “dissuaded” a protester from displaying a banner. Police also lined the streets of Chengdu, the capital of southwest China’s Sichuan province, after locals planned a protest against a nearby chemical plant Saturday, residents contacted online by AFP said. “There were a lot of police outside government offices, public spaces and important crossroads in the city,” one resident surnamed Liu said, adding that fliers posted around the city in recent days had called for a protest.
“The fliers said the chemical plant has a big impact on people’s health,” he said, not wanting to give a full name for fear of official reprisals. The government responded with notices calling on people not to demonstrate, Liu said. Photos posted online showed ranks of police lining the city’s streets. Local police on Saturday morning announced that they would be carrying out an earthquake protection drill, a claim dismissed by thousands of Internet users. “Its about preventing the protest,” one user of the popular social networking website Sina Weibo wrote in response to the police notice. “This is the most blatant in the history of Chengdu,” added another. Locals online said that the protest did not take place.
Sudan police use teargas to end land protest
Sudanese police used teargas and batons to break up a protest by around 400 people in Khartoum on Friday demanding the government grant them land to build homes, witnesses said. Protesters blocked several roads in the east of the capital and hurled stones at police, witnesses said. They shouted slogans complaining the government had not honored a promise to allocate land for houses. The police were not immediately available for comment.
Activists said the protest had been inspired by a demonstration in a Khartoum suburb last a week where people had called on the government to revoke the sale of land to Gulf Arab investors. As in other African countries, Gulf Arab investors have been investing in farmland in Sudan, which struggles with an economic crisis, to secure food supplies. Critics say some investors take advantage of poor countries and farmers.
Iranian regime arrests all councillors of a city for provoking mine protest
All councillors in the city of Safa-Shahr have been arrested for provoking a revolt amongst the people who protested the regime official’s plundering their wealth. The municipal officials were detained for allegedly ‘instigating civil disorder’ at the Dehbid Stone Mine – the largest in Iran which produces the renowned Royal Botticino marble. Iran’s state-run news website Aftab reported that ‘millions of dollars’ worth of damage had been done to facilities and equipment at the mine.
The website said: “In the attack, hundreds of men entered the working area of the mine. They destroyed the buildings and expensive machinery and equipment. Much was set ablaze. “According to investigators and security agents, city council members instigated disorder among the people and called for them to protest, and this has been proved. “On the order of the judicial authorities, the members of the city council have been detained for further questioning and they are being held in prison.” Dehbid is one of Iran’s largest stone mines and known one of the world’s best deposits of cream marble.
The stone from the mine is internationally known as Cream Marble of Dehbid and has an annual income of hundreds of millions of dollars. The unrest at the mine began on April 19 when 700 people entered the mine after the transfer of the management of the mine to a private institution. The people in the region had long opposed the transfer of the mine’s management to a private institution and demanded its income be used for improving living conditions in the region.