Eight injured during clashes in Halkidiki
Seven policemen and one female protester were injured in Skouries in the northern peninsula of Halkidiki on Sunday, during a demonstration against mining activities in the area. According to police, one of the policemen was shot with a carbin and taken to the Polygyros hospital along with the other injured, where they were treated and released. Halkidiki residents had gathered in the area demanding that Hellas Gold stop its mining activities, which they consider illegal. Clashes broke out when MAT riot police intervened, making use of tear gas to disperse the crowd.
Three female protesters have been detained by police. On Monday Halkidiki residents are expected to meet with company representatives before Thessaloniki’s appeals court prosecutor, who will examine the legality of Hellas Gold’s activities in a bid to ease tensions between the two sides. The meeting will also be attended by the heads of the Halkidiki and Central Macedonia police directorates, as well as the heads of the local forestry service and the urban planning department.
Workers’ unrest close Ashulia factories
Over a hundred factories in Ashulia have been closed for the day after the workers staged protests for higher wages on Sunday. Police said, workers of the Envoy Group, Ha-Meem Group, The Star Link Style, Medrol Apparel and Ananta Group factories came down to the streets demanding higher wages. The workers hurled brickbats at other factories in the vicinity. Ashulia Station Inspector Mostafa Kamal said, the workers had blocked the Dhaka-Aricha Highway at 8:30 am.
Police said they charged baton to disperse the protesting workers. The factories were closed fearing unrest and damage, said the OC. Earlier, 19 year-old sewing operator Parul Akhter was found hanging in a garment factory of the Ha-Meem Group on Saturday night at around 8pm. A total of 10 factories were also closed on Saturday following workers’ unrest.
They were – Setara Group, Designer Jeans Ltd, Medrol Apparels, Bandu Design Ltd, Star Link Style, Star Link Apparels Ltd, Greenlife Clothing, DK Group, Wash and Design Ltd and Ha-Meem Groups Artistic Design Ltd at Banglabazar area.
Vendor’s Suicide Reflects Despair of Mideast Youth
On the day he chose to die, Adel Khedri woke up at 6:30 a.m., took his black backpack and headed down to the busy boulevard where he worked as a cigarette peddler. It was the last in a series of odd jobs that had defined his hand-to-mouth existence for almost nine years. He couldn’t afford to pay bribes to get hired as a driver or a guard. The Tunisian army didn’t need him. There were few factory jobs. And the owner at a fast food restaurant in neighboring Libya had cheated him out of wages as a dishwasher.
So on March 12, three weeks after his 27th birthday, Adel left the dirty room he shared with his older brother in a Tunis slum for the tree-lined Avenue Habib Bourguiba, once the stage for the first of the Arab Spring uprisings. He stopped in front of the art deco Municipal Theater. He poured gasoline over his body. Then he set himself on fire. Adel died 19 hours later. One of his last words to a doctor at the burn center was “faddit” – slang for “fed up.” Adel is one of 178 people in Tunisia who have set themselves on fire since the self-immolation two years ago of another high school dropout-turned-street vendor launched the Arab Spring.
These two book-ends of a revolution that toppled four Arab dictators show how little has changed in between for millions of jobless, hopeless 20-somethings across the Middle East and North Africa. The difficulty of finding a job, which helped spark the unrest, is now a prescription for continued turmoil. Youth unemployment worldwide is up to about 12.3 percent, in part because of the global financial crisis that began five years ago. But some areas of the Middle East and North Africa suffer from more than twice that rate, because of stubborn labor market problems compounded by the turmoil of the Arab Spring.
And the future looks even worse. In the Middle East, youth unemployment is expected to rise from 27.7 percent in 2011 to 30 percent in 2018, the International Labor Organization reported this week. In North Africa, a slight increase is expected, from 23.3 percent to 23.9 percent. Economists say fixing the problem will require broad and deep changes, such as overhauling education, slashing bloated public sectors and encouraging entrepreneurship.
“There is no quick solution that will address all the aspirations of young people looking for jobs now,” said Masood Ahmed, head of the International Monetary Fund for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). In the meantime, the numbers add up to a generation in trouble. In Tunisia, 143 of the people who lit themselves aflame over the past two years, many of them unemployed, have died. Similar self-immolations have been reported in Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, Bahrain and Lebanon, though in smaller numbers.
Greece: Civil mobilization order to teachers ahead of strike
The Greek government is set to issue civil mobilization orders to secondary school teachers who have called a strike which will disrupt university entrance exams. Teachers that refuse to work face arrest. Ekathimerini reported the civil mobilization orders will be issued to members of the teachers’ union OLME to force them to work on May 17, the first day of planned strike action. Education Minister Constantinos Arvanitopoulos said the government wanted to protect pupils and assured them that the examinations would go ahead.
The Greek Federation of Secondary Education State School Teachers, OLME, voted on Friday in favour of strike action to protest new austerity measures which add an additional two hours to their working week, despite pay cuts. AP reported the new working conditions to be imposed on teachers also include the involuntary transfer of staff. Rolling strikes are due to commence on May 17, coinciding with examinations which run between May 17 and May 31.
According to KTG this is the first time in which civil mobilization orders have been issued prior to the commencement of strike action. Pupils are due to return to school on May 13 following the Easter break. Schools break up again for the 13 week summer break in mid June. The Greek government is set to issue civil mobilization orders to secondary school teachers who have called a strike which will disrupt university entrance exams.
Teachers that refuse to work face arrest. Ekathimerini reported the civil mobilization orders will be issued to members of the teachers’ union OLME to force them to work on May 17, the first day of planned strike action. Education Minister Constantinos Arvanitopoulos said the government wanted to protect pupils and assured them that the examinations would go ahead. The Greek Federation of Secondary Education State School Teachers, OLME, voted on Friday in favour of strike action to protest new austerity measures which add an additional two hours to their working week, despite pay cuts.
AP reported the new working conditions to be imposed on teachers also include the involuntary transfer of staff. Rolling strikes are due to commence on May 17, coinciding with examinations which run between May 17 and May 31. According to KTG this is the first time in which civil mobilization orders have been issued prior to the commencement of strike action. Pupils are due to return to school on May 13 following the Easter break. Schools break up again for the 13 week summer break in mid June.
Somalia: Illegal Roadblocks Setup By Gov’t Forces Make Truck-Drivers Go On Strike
Bal’ad, Somalia — Truck drivers went on strike on Saturday because of roadblocks in the main highway that links Bal’ad to Mogadishu, put up by Somali government forces, Garowe Online reports. The drivers who regularly carry fruit, vegetables and goods to Mogadishu decided to strike on Saturday.
The drivers’ strike comes after they allege that government soldiers set up roadblocks to embezzle cash from drivers who constantly use the busy main highway connecting the Lower Shabelle region – rich in farmland – and Mogadishu the capital of Banadir region. According to local sources, more than 10 roadblocks have been setup between Bal’ad in the Lower Shabelle region and Mogadishu. Media in Shabelle region reported that drivers have complained repeatedly about the illegal roadblocks that have been setup by the government forces. Authorities in Shabelle region told media that they would tackle the roadblocks in the region.
Cops abused us, say residents
ON entering the Freedom Charter Square informal settlement in Kliptown, Soweto, one is met by a debris-strewn gravel road and a stream of sewer waste flowing into the Klip River. Parallel to the gravel road is a railway line used by trains travelling between Johannesburg and Vereeniging. Residents cross the overhead railway bridge to the other side of their beloved Kliptown, and while driving slowly to avoid the ditches, one has to be extra careful not to bump the kids playing on the dirt road. But of grave concern are illegal electricity cables crisscrossing the area on the ground and overhead.
The residents, a majority of whom are unemployed, protested this week over power cuts carried out by City Power on Monday, resulting in violent battles with the police. In hushed tones, residents accuse each other of stealing electricity by illegally connecting their shacks from street poles and the mains at the nearby Kliptown Youth Programme Centre. And this week they took to the streets, barricading roads and the railway line with burning tyres, to protest against City Power.
When asked why they steal electricity, residents insist the government has failed to deliver on its promise to provide them with free electricity. “People are willing to pay but there is no proper infrastructure in place, even our jewel, the Kliptown Youth Programme Centre has no lights. “This place pays its monthly rates and services as it is subsidised. It’s proof that the council has little regard for us,” says community leader Ivy Mbunda. Patricia Sesana, 42, holding casings of rubber bullets fired at them during the protest, asks: “Where is the free electricity? We’re going to burn to death, it’s winter and shack fires are rife.”
Residents also accused police of brutality. Tasneema Silvester, 26, chips in: “Some of us were home doing our chores when the police embarked on a house-to-house raid. Some kids were injured when the cops broke down doors saying they were looking for protesters and instigators. It’s unfair. “They said we’re harbouring criminals involved in violent protests. They accused us of barricading the railway line and of damaging property and arson.”
Happy Tshabalala, 59, who suffers from TB, says he is coughing blood after being kicked in the ribs by the cops. “I’m from the clinic, and I’m going to lay charges of assault against the police. I don’t even have electricity in my home, so why am I targeted?” asks Tshabalala. “I was lying in bed when I heard some commotion, when the cops entered, they beat me up without provocation, trampled on me and hit me with the butt of a gun.”
Clashes Likely To Delay Myanmar-China Pipeline Start-Up
Yangon. Security concerns will likely delay the first shipments of gas and oil from the Myanmar coast to China through a new pipeline running across territory controlled by ethnic militia groups, a Myanmar energy official said on Saturday. Construction of the 793-km pipeline will be completed by the end of May, according to Li Zilin, vice chairman of South East Asia Gas Pipeline Company, a conglomerate of Chinese and Myanmar companies.
“Technically the gas pipeline is ready, but I’m not just sure when the situation along its route will allow it to operate,” said a senior Energy Ministry official who asked not to be named because he was not authorized to speak to the media. The official said operations were likely to be delayed due to recent clashes between government forces and ethnic militia fighters in Shan state, as well as “fierce fighting” with the Kachin Independence Army in Kachin, a northern state that borders China.
The pipeline will be a conduit for gas from the Shwe fields off the coast of Rakhine, a western state bordering Bangladesh, to China’s Yunnan province. It will also transport oil from the Middle East and Africa overland across Myanmar, allowing China to avoid using the Straits of Malacca between Malaysia and Indonesia, one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes. The project has also sparked protests in Manday Island where the pipeline begins and residents say land has been confiscated to make way for a deep sea port.
New York-based Human Rights Watch called on the government to drop charges against 10 protesters accused of illegally organising a demonstration and are scheduled to appear in court May 13. It said the detainees sought permits to protest twice but were denied after being told Manday Island was under a state of emergency.
“We are waiting to have transparent talks about our grievances with the authority and the Chinese companies,” Tun Kyi, chairman of Maday Island Development Association, told Reuters. About 400 villages on Manday Island staged a protest last week. Demands included adequate compensation for land seizures, improved roads and creation of jobs.
7 injured in clashes between gunmen and police in Sair
HEBRON (Ma’an) — Seven people were injured overnight Friday in clashes between Palestinian police and gunmen in a town near Hebron in the southern West Bank. At around midnight Friday, gunmen opened fire at a police station in Sair. Police officers fired back, injuring two gunmen, and the Hebron command deployed patrols of several Palestinian security services around the police station and near the municipality building.
Intensive gunfire was heard around Sair police station, followed by a power outage. In a second incident in the early hours of Saturday morning, gunmen fired from a vehicle at a joint security services patrol in a nearby valley, Wadi Sair. Five people were injured in a gun battle and taken by ambulances to hospitals in Hebron.
Locals said a policeman was among those injured, but Palestinian security services said no officers were hurt and that the town was under control. Sair has witnessed clashes since Palestinian police officers accidentally shot and killed a woman in the town on Wednesday night. Police officers opened fire at a fugitive’s vehicle and accidentally killed his wife, 30-year-old Khalida Kawazba.
A security source told Ma’an that police had ordered the woman’s husband Nawwaf Kawazba to stop, but he instead accelerated, “forcing police to open fire.” After the shooting, angry residents hurled Molotov cocktails and stones at PA police, who used tear gas to disperse the clashes.
Polisario chief warns of armed struggle
ALGIERS — Polisario Front chief Mohamed Abdelaziz has warned that his movement could take up arms to seek independence from Morocco if the UN fails to resolve the Western Sahara conflict, Algeria’s APS news agency reported Saturday. “We have believed in the United Nations, but if it fails to organise a referendum on self-determination in Western Sahara to allow the Sahrawi people to recover independence, then we will take up arms to liberate our territory,”
APS quoted Abdelaziz as saying. Morocco annexed the Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony, in 1975, a move never recognised by the international community. It has proposed broad autonomy under Moroccan sovereignty for the phosphate-rich region. But this is rejected by the Polisario, which first took up arms to fight for an independent state two years before the Spanish withdrawal, and continued its guerrilla war against Morocco until a UN-negotiated ceasefire in 1991.