Chinese woman’s death after allegations of gang rape sparks unrest in Beijing
Earlier today, the Beijing Public Security Bureau reported that “non-Beijing residents” were gathering in Fengtai District, in southwest Beijing, to “reflect discontent” with the May 3 death of a woman who had allegedly been gang raped (link in Chinese). The death of the woman in question, a 22-year-old worker from Anhui province, occurred hours after she was allegedly gang raped by security guards; authorities determined that there were “no suspicious circumstances” (link in Chinese).
By the late afternoon, the protests had escalated (link in Chinese), and crowds had grown to thousands, according to Chinese pop culture blog Beijing Cream, and Chinese police and paramilitary forces thronged the area. (Here’s a Youtube of the protests, and some photos via @niubi, plus another here.) Local sources say that some details of the case make the lack of suspicion from police investigators questionable (links in Chinese).
For instance, the police refused requests from the woman’s family to see surveillance footage on the grounds that it was unrelated to the case, according to local reports. At present, web searches relevant to the protests—such as Yongdingmen, a part of Bejing where demonstrations are taking place—appear to be blocked on Sina Weibo, China’s version of Twitter.
Chile students resume protests for free education
Tens of thousands of students in Chile have resumed their protests for free education with marches in major cities. The march in the capital, Santiago, was largely peaceful, but there were isolated clashes, authorities say. Riot police said that they had been attacked with petrol bombs.
Police used water cannons and tear gas to break up one group of protesters. Chilean students have been staging protests for free, high-quality education since 2011. Wednesday’s action was the second nationwide protest this year. The police estimated the number of protesters in Santiago at more than 37,000 but organisers say 80,000 people took to the streets. There also were protests in other Chilean cities, including Valparaiso, Concepcion, Temuco and Valdivia.
Afghan police accused of killing 8 during protest of NATO raids
KABUL, Afghanistan – Afghan police were accused of killing eight protesters at a demonstration on Wednesday as the U.S.-led coalition said it had opened an investigation into allegations of misconduct by NATO troops during an encounter with insurgents. Both incidents occurred in southern Afghanistan where violence has escalated in recent weeks after a Taliban announcement launching the start of its spring offensive.
Villagers in the town of Maiwand said Afghan police opened fire on hundreds of demonstrators who were protesting raids that Afghan and NATO forces conducted in their village of Loye Karez two days earlier. Accounts differed as to whether the eight killed were unarmed protesters or militants. Ten other people were wounded. Kandahar Provincial Police Chief Gen. Abdul Raziq said Taliban insurgents had infiltrated the demonstration. Abdul Qayyum, a 45-year-old demonstrator, told The Associated Press by phone that “there were no Taliban among the protesters.”
“The local people of Maiwand district are so upset and unhappy with the government and the foreigners because they are conducting night raids on the houses of local people,” he said. “With no reason, they are entering local houses and doing whatever they want. We don’t want all these things to keep happening to us.” In the past, Afghan President Hamid Karzai has bitterly criticized raids on village homes, particularly those carried out at night.
Over 100 arrests as Bolivian miners protest
More than 100 people were arrested and a bridge was blown up as police and Bolivian miners clashed on the third day of protests over the latter’s retirement benefits, officials said Wednesday. Interior Minister Carlos Romero confirmed the arrests, telling reporters that those detained had been carrying dynamite, some in ambulances, and throwing stones at police during the demonstrations in the southeast of the country.
The national police commander, General Alberto Aracena, said miners had used dynamite to destroy the bridge, while media reports from the Andean town of Caihuasi said officers used tear gas after miners attempted to block roads. The scores of arrests were made in Caihuasi, police said. The strikers are demanding bigger retirement pensions.
Bolivian Workers on Third Day of Strike
La Paz, May 8 (Prensa Latina) The Central Obrera Boliviana (COB) is continuing its third consecutive day of strike, demanding a pension increase by stopping work at the country’s largest tin mine and blocking strategic departmental and international highways. The union’s blockades extend to seven regions of the country, blocking traffic in the eastern and western areas and include roads that link with Argentina and Chile, a situation that has suspended land-based trade with those nations.
Given the situation, the government was forced to establish a shuttle service on Tuesday using the army’s airline. Workers rejected government calls for talks today and demanded direct negotiation with President Evo Morales, who is currently in the Fiji Islands attending the G-77 Summit.
Sitrafer Workers Strike Over Six Months of Salary Arrears
Six days after Labor Day celebration, the workers of the railway maintenance company, Sitrafer blocked a train from Ngaoundéré from stationing in Yaoundé on Monday May 6, 2013, demanding six months of unpaid salary from their company. The workers say, Sitrafer has failed to respect its engagements concluded after a meeting with the striking workers in January 2013. Cameroon Railway Company, CAMRAIL said it has respected the terms of its contract with Sitrafer.
In a communiqué the company says it paid 215 million francs CFA to Sitrafer for work done in 2012 at the beginning of the year and also specifies that one billion francs CFA was paid to Sitrafer in 2012. In the meantime, the angry workers are clamoring for the dismissal of Sitrafer’s General Manager, Jacques Bimai.