Six injured in Cameroon varsity riot
At least six people have been injured and learning halted following a second spate of unrest in less than four months at state University of Buea in southwest Cameroon. The striking students also damaged at least three vehicles belonging to the institution, according to an official who asked not to be named because he is not the university’s spokesman.
Among the injured were campus security guards. The students were demanding that the charges against 12 of their leaders before a Buea court be dropped. They also want fresh first semester examinations set for the suspects who were rounded up during the examinations period. The 12 students were charged for holding the Vice-Chancellor, Dr Nalova Lyonga, hostage for over three hours in her car on the campus during a strike in February.
According to a Saturday press release by the University of Buea Students Union (UBSU), the students also want the institution to fund their union and let them elect new leaders before May 20.. The latest strike comes after talks ended in a deadlock on two occasions. The Vice-Chancellor rejected the demands at a meeting on Monday. Security forces are reported to have forced their way through barricades mounted by the students and dispersed them with tear gas.
Student Protests Heat Up Following Radio Broadcasts
In attempting to address the escalating protests and riots taking place at the University of Zambia, representatives of the government took to the radiowaves, but the problem only became worse. University of Zambia Great East Road campus students have declared their school a no-go area for Sunday Chanda and Kennedy Kamba, the executive director of Speech for Growth and Patrotc Front (PF) Lusaka youth chairperson, respectively.
Many students interviewed said the duo were enemies of the university because they were insolent towards the students. On Wednesday, Sunday Chanda escaped from threats of a violent attack at the Great East Road campus after he made disparaging remarks against the students during a live programme on the campus radio.
Chanda was on air attacking the student body and leaders of the protest movement for having disobeyed the PF, which angered the students. The students surrounded UNZA radio as they waited for Chanda to conclude his programme, but before they could descend on him, a battalion from the Zambia Police armed in riot gear arrived just on time to give him an armed escort, but he was made to apologise to the protesting students.
During the live radio programme, Chanda defended the PF government removal of subsidies on fuel and maize, which the students had been opposing during their meeting at the infamous monk square within the university premises. Chanda alleged that UNZA students were be irrational to protest against the PF’s removal of subsidies because students ought to be in lecture rooms and not on the tarmac, breaching the law and disturbing public order.
On Kennedy Kamba, the students said the PF youth leader must never set his feet on the UNZA campus because he had openly declared that he was an enemy of the learners. Kamba had said that the students were being used by the opposition MMD and United Party for National development (UPND) to stage public protests against the removal of subsides.
He said that the UNZA students were being political and trying to make the PF government fail to run the affairs of Zambia. But the students said Kamba must try and test his popularity by visiting the UNZA great road campus. “Let that youth leader Kennedy Kamba come here. We shall teach him a lesson of his life.
He is revered among political cadres, but here, we do not tolerate such characters. The countr is sliding into a depression and Kamba is defending. What has angered us the most are his insults and cheap politicking on us,” said James Kaminda, a fourth year student in mining engineering.
Another student, Cleapha Chabu said Sunday Chanda and Kennedy Kamba were hired guns. He said such characters were the one who were manipulating the people’s needs and turning Zambia into a country of people who are just politicking. “We were promised so many things, but look what is happening. We are annoyed because Kamba has insulted us and we want him to come to UNZA then we can meet him. We are not political cadres that can dance to his low tricks,” Chabu said.
During the week, UNZA students protested against government’s decision to remove subsidies on fuel and the staple. The students complained that the cost of living would skyrocket with the suspension of subsidies. Scores of UNZA students marched peacefully along the great east road in protest against the government decision, bu Kamba and Sunday Chanda had been condemning the students for airing their views. Hitherto, a battalion of armed police is keeping vigil on the students lest they degenerate into a full blown riot.
25 Palestinians arrested in and around J’lem on Nakba Day
Israel police said a total of 25 Palestinians were arrested during clashes that took place over the course of the day Wednesday in and around Jerusalem. National Police Spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said that during a mid-day protest at the Nablus gate in Jerusalem,
Palestinian rioters threw rocks and bottles at police, lightly wounding six Border Police and Israel police officers, three of whom had to be taken to hospitals in Jerusalem for treatment. Police dispersed the riot using stun grenades, water cannons and mounted police, he added.
Car burnings rise as France threatens to take euro crisis to ‘higher plane’ , says hedge fund boss Michael Hintze
The billionaire boss of CQS, one of London’s biggest hedge funds, has written to investors warning them that the France could trigger another more dangerous phase of the debt crisis and rock the fragile global recovery. In a note to investors, Mr Hintze has said: “While Cyprus has stolen the news headlines of late, I am concerned that the eurozone’s problems could soon turn to the ‘core’, and in particular the focus could be on France.”
He added: “A loss of confidence in France would shift the eurozone’s troubles to a higher plane. France lies not only at the core of the eurozone, but is also one of the original architects of the European Union. Clearly, a loss in confidence in France would likely have far-reaching consequences; its impact on the EU, the broader global economy and markets.” France, which yesterday was shown to have plunged back into recession, represents 19.6pc of eurozone GDP and 14.4pc of European Union GDP. Its share of the European Central Bank’s capital is 14.2pc.
Mr Hintze, a Tory donor and leading philanthropist, said that rising social unrest, especially among young people, could hamper the French government’s ability to push through “deeper economic reforms that are required.” “A reflection of growing discontent among the youth can be seen in the rise in car burnings,” Mr Hintze has said in a note to investors.
“Figures released by the French Minister of the Interior recorded 1193 cars having been burned over a two-day period on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, with the annual number somewhere around 42,000 to 60,000.”
Chinese Mining Company Operations In Kyrgyzstan Blocked By Protesters
OSH, Kyrgyzstan — Operations by the Chinese gold mining company Kaidi have been blocked by hundreds of protesters in Kyrgyzstan’s southern Chon-Alai district. Authorities in Osh Province sent at least 150 police officers to the district on May 16 to prevent unrest. District council deputy Kasymbek Abdyldaev told RFE/RL that local authorities decided to suspend Kaidi’s operations again in the district.
The company had just resumed its activities on May 16 after they had been suspended last August because of protests against the presence of foreign companies in the nation’s mineral resources sector. Similar protests last year and this year led to the Kyrgyz parliament’s decision to renegotiate the terms of a 2009 financial agreement with the Toronto-based Centerra Gold Company with respect to the Kumtor golden mine in Kyrgyzstan’s north.
Shanghai Protests Force Battery-Maker to Abandon Factory
Protests in Shanghai forced a battery-maker to abandon plans for a factory on the outskirts of the city, in a victory for citizens wary of assurances that such projects won’t pollute the environment. Shanghai Guoxuan New Energy Co. will give up its investment and return the land for the factory to the government, the company said in a statement on the Songjiang district website yesterday.
It was responding to environmental concerns over the production of lithium-iron phosphate batteries, according to a separate statement on the district’s environment bureau website. The protests reflect concerns among ordinary Chinese about the environmental costs of economic growth, which averaged 10.6 percent in the last decade. Further underscoring tensions, hundreds of residents took to the streets of the city of Kunming today to protest plans for a petrochemical plant, according to the South China Morning Post.
Pollution has replaced land disputes as the main cause of social unrest in the country, Chen Jiping, a former leading member of the Communist Party’s Committee of Political and Legislative Affairs, told Bloomberg in March. While an official environmental impact study showed the battery project in Songjiang would cause little air or water pollution, concerned residents began organizing protests last month, the China Daily newspaper reported today.
Shanghai Guoxuan is a subsidiary of Hefei Guoxuan High-Tech Power Energy Co. Today’s protests in Kunming saw demonstrators shout “Get out, refinery” and throw water bottles at police as they demanded that state-owned China National Petroleum Corp. abandon plans for a chemical plant, the South China Morning Post reported. Previous protests on May 4 in Kunming led the local government to promise to cancel the project if “most of our citizens say no to it,” the official Xinhua News Agency reported May 10, citing Mayor Li Wenrong.
Public protests: Gauteng’s rising pressure cooker
This week, Gauteng Commissioner of Police Mzwandile Petros announced that 560 protests had taken place in Gauteng between 1 April and 10 May this year. Petros warned that his charges did not have the resources to adequately police these protests. State Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele has also been talking about the issue in Parliament – he’s vowed to stamp out the incidence of violent protest. By KHADIJA PATEL.
South Africa’s reputation as the “protest capital” of the world has come into sharp focus this week. The Gauteng police commissioner Mzwandile Petros shocked many people on Monday when he said that there had been 560 protests in the province within a period of 40 days – and 40 of those protests were deemed “violent” by police. By any standard, these numbers point to a very high incidence of protests in the province.
And while it is unclear what exactly drove these protests – what exactly had sent people into the streets of Gauteng 560 times in 40 days – these statistics fall into the growing discourse in government around South Africa’s culture of protest, particularly violent protests. “Let us be upfront and loudly state that in terms of our law, it is a crime to incite or participate in acts of violence during protests,” State Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele told Parliament on Tuesday.
“Both the organisers and participants must take full responsibility for the consequences of such violent action, including destruction of life and property.” He warned, “As a state we can no longer tolerate such abuse.” Referring to President Jacob Zuma’s 2009 State of the Nation Address, Cwele said Zuma had called on the security service to restore the authority of the state.
“The whole security cluster is increasing its capacity to focus on this scourge. We now have a plan and are ready to deploy the full capacity of the democratic state to identify, prevent or arrest and swiftly prosecute those who undermine our Bill of Rights by engaging in acts of violence,” Cwele said.
He called on all South Africans to join hands with the security forces and law enforcement agencies to ensure that “these perpetrators” did not gain the upper hand against law and order. In Gauteng, however, Petros has sought to emphasise that the rate of protest in the province is placing a strain on the resources of the SAPS, to the detriment of the SAPS’ ability to prevent crime. “What we are saying is that ordinarily the police are supposed to be dealing with crime prevention.
And you would know that the strategy of the police in Gauteng talks to the deterrence of crime through the visibility of police,” he told Daily Maverick. “Now the police are visible when it comes to public unrest – we are not talking about the peaceful marches. You see, of the 560 protests, 40 of them were violent, meaning each and every day we are having a violent protest which presents us with a problem, because there is the challenge that the resources we would have used there, we need to use to go and beef up the capacity to stop the violent protest that is there,” he explained.
Petros stressed that the police were unable to determine if a protest was likely to turn violent. “What happens is you deploy [police] first and you put on standby [others] because we have to anticipate that it might be violent,” he said. “So we need to be in a position in terms of calling up the people at short notice.”
Petros further explained, “For example, if there is a protest in Lenasia, we don’t know if it’s going to be peaceful or not peaceful. We first send in for a peaceful protest, but immediately [if] it turns out to be violent, on standby around Soweto there will be police officers doing crime prevention that can be called on short notice to go and beef up what is happening.”
Some analysts believe that Petros’ assertions of police resources being stretched by the rate of protest in the province are a wily attempt to secure funding from his superiors. Others caution that the police in Gauteng, as elsewhere in the country, are battling to cope with the number of protests taking place.
“The police are genuinely under pressure in terms of resources,” Professor Peter Alexander from the University of Johannesburg said. Alexander, who is the Director of the Centre for Sociological Research, is in the process of studying the incidence of public protests in South Africa.
While he is surprised at the number of protests recorded by police in the last six weeks in Gauteng, he agrees that the police are ill-equipped to facilitate adequately the right of South Africans to protest. He points out that an overstretched police force with dwindling resources, forced to face the wrath of people who feel ignored by their government, often will have no other recourse but to use rubber bullets – and then live ammunition.
Bolivia: Protests escalating on ninth day of strike
LA PAZ, Bolivia – Negotiations between the government and the Central Obrera Boliviana (COB) remain stalled amid escalating protests on May 14, the ninth day of the general strike in Bolivia, sources from both sides said. Both sides accused each other of hindering the dialogue, while none of the sectors seemed willing to compromise and start debating the merits of a demand for an increase in retirement income.
“Fellow president and vice president (of Bolivia), we invite you to initiate the appropriate dialogue,” said COB executive Juan Carlos Trujillo. If there is no dialogue, “COB and their national leaders disclaim all responsibility for what may happen.” Labor Minister Daniel Santalla said dialogue is not possible if the protests continue to intensify. Miners and teachers protested in La Paz on May 14 with a profusion of deafening explosions of dynamite, the use of which is prohibited by law.
The blockades have not affected routes to neighboring countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Peru, according to official reports. The financial and business services also run regularly, but school classes have been partially suspended. The COB calls for retirement equal to 100% of salary for miners and smaller percentages for other industrial sectors. The government is offering 60% to 80%.
Kabul protest turns violent
More than 2,000 residents of Dehsabz district on Wednesday staged a violent protest against the no-payment of their land seized by the government, officials said. The two-hour protest erupted at 9am on the Pul-i-Charkhi-Airport road, hurling stones at police and journalists, injuring the deputy police chief, Brig. Gen. Daud Amin, and a photographer of Chanting slogans against the Ministry of Urban Development and the Kabul governor, the demonstrators pitched a tent in the area to press for their demand.
Local Council head Haji Mir Afzal said that the government had seized 135,000 acres land of residents of Deh Sabz and Qara Bagh districts for the establishment of a new town. However, he added, they were yet to be paid. “The authorities neither pay our money nor let us cultivate our lands,” the elder complained, seeking a solution to their problem.
The government had been cheating them over the past five years, alleged another protest, Mullah Ahmad Jan, who said they were ready to die for their right. The Dehsabz–Barikab City Development Authority (DCDA) was established in early 2007 as an executive unit of the Independent Board of Kabul New City Development under a presidential decree.
Chinese Police Expel Tibetans From Disputed Land
Chinese security forces in Gansu province forced a group of Tibetans last week off of land they said they had bought, beating some and detaining 15 as local authorities asserted government control of the property, Tibetan sources said. The police action in Gansu’s Luchu (in Chinese, Luqu) came on May 12, as around 200 police officers “both armed and unarmed” arrived suddenly at the site located just outside the county’s main town, an area resident told RFA’s Tibetan Service on Tuesday, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“Security officials threatened the Tibetan [property] owners, saying that the land belonged to the government, and that no one had the right to purchase, own, or use the land,” RFA’s source said. Police put up a sign saying the land had been sold illegally and that the county government had authorized its confiscation.
The Tibetans replied that they had spent large sums to purchase the land, sat down in protest, and refused to leave, and police then attacked the group and removed some from the site by force, the source said. “Barbed wire was then put up,” she said. Sit-in protests continued, and 15 Tibetan protesters were finally detained, including a man named Gonpo Kyab and a man named Dargyal. “One was seriously injured and was taken to a hospital for treatment,” RFA’s source said. Calls seeking comment from area officials rang unanswered, and details on when the Tibetan claimants to the land had bought their parcels, and from whom, were not immediately available.