Tourists stuck as social unrest hits northwestern Colombia
More than 30 Colombian and foreign tourists are stuck in the northwestern corner of Colombia after locals went on strike. According to a strike leader, the tourists are not being held against their will. Thirty-two tourists got stuck in the Uraba region after strikers shut down public transport connecting the remote part of Colombia with the rest of the country.
Colombian security forces were sent to Capurgana in the Acandi municipality to make sure the stuck tourists are able to leave the Caribbean beach area and blame the strikers of retaining the tourists. In an interview with W Radio, one of the strike leaders admitted the tourists were affected by the fact there is no transport connecting the municipality to the rest of Colombia, but denied the strikers were disallowing the visitors their freedom of movement.
“The strike organizers have taken care, because these people have food and are comfortable. While the police say we have them kidnapped, they say the opposite,” Emilio Petruz told the radio station. Nevertheless, the Government Secretary of the Choco department, responsible for public order in the region, said “there was a difficulty because yesterday tourists were leaving and they wouldn’t let them.” The locals went on strike to force the government to provide basic services and improve their access to electricty, potable water, health services and education.
Saudi dies after setting himself on fire in protest
A Saudi man has died after setting himself on fire in protest at his treatment by authorities, the BBC has learned. Sources told BBC Arabic that more than 100 hundred people gathered outside the police department in capital Riyadh in anger at Ali Jabiri Alhouraysi’s death. He is said to have killed himself after being searched by police.
The incident echoes the death of a Tunisian who set fire to himself as a protest in 2011, triggering revolution. The death of Tunisian vegetable seller Muhammad Bouazizi helped spark protests that led to the toppling of Tunisian President Zine al-Abdine Ben Ali a week later, and is considered as one of the catalysts for the regional Arab Spring.
Like Mr Bouazizi, Mr Alhouraysi was a vegetable seller. The BBC understands Mr Alhouraysi killed himself on Wednesday after being unable to present his identification papers when he was searched by police. He is said to have been previously stripped of his Saudi citizenship.
The sources told BBC Arabic that Mr Alhouraysi’s family is refusing to receive his body from the hospital. Reports of self-immolation in the ultra-conservative kingdom are rare. Two years ago a man in his 60s has died after setting himself on fire in Samitah in Saudi Arabia’s south-western Jizan region. Unconfirmed reports say he was angry about the difficulties in obtaining citizenship.
North Cairo may face power outages as workers strike
Operations at Egypt’s North Cairo Electricity Distribution Company (NCEDC) have been on hold for the fifth day in row due to a sit-in by workers demanding the release of 17 of their colleagues who are currently under arrest. The workers are threatening to escalate their protest by cutting off electricity to districts of Cairo supplied by the state-run company, protesting worker Ahmed Adel told Ahram Online on Friday. The company serves more than 3.8 million Egyptians.
Last week, around a thousand workers gathered at the main headquarters of the company in Cairo to protest the management’s decision to remove a 50 percent bonus from their monthly pay cheques. Security forces attempted to stop the protests, arresting 15 of the workers on charges of blocking the street and damaging public property. “It was a peaceful protest, and there wasn’t any need for the security forces’ violence against us,” Adel said. “The police forces arrested 15 people on Monday, then they released three on bail, but they returned two days ago to call five new workers to be questioned.”
According to Adel, thousands of workers in five subsidiaries of NCEDC have showed solidarity with the detained workers, announcing strikes and halting operations of their branches. “If residents of these districts face electricity blackouts, they won’t find maintence workers who are responsible for fixing failures,” Adel warned. The workers’ protest has become a dispute with the police, rather than the management, a source within the company’s management, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Ahram Online.
“The chairman, for his part, vowed that no one would touch the workers’ bonuses and he assigned a lawyer to defend the arrested,” the source said. No one at the electricity ministry was available for comment. Over the last two years, Cairo has endured repeated power outages due to fuel shortages. Its expected that outages will continue during the summer as the national electricity grid is estimated to be overloaded by around 2,500 megawatts on rush days and on days that see heat waves.
Egypt’s electricity consumption during the summer is expected to rise to 29,500 megawatts per day, exacerbated by the hot weather and the Islamic holy month of Ramadan in July. Egypt’s daily capacity for generating electricity currently stands at around 27,000 megawatts. Egyptian workers played a critical part in the protests leading up to the removal of former president Mubarak, but in the two years since the uprising, many have complained of few improvements in their working conditions.
Labour rights advocates accuse President Mohamed Morsi’s government of taking a tough stance on striking workers, by using riot police to break up strikes and arrest strike organisers, and firing or disciplining public sector workers engaged in labour action.
Sad: 5 policemen and 6 civilians killed by protesting youths in Benue
Five policemen and six civilians were killed when youths in Otukpo, Benue state started a protest against the citing of a private university by the Senate President, David Mark at Asa 111 area of the town. The irate youths who were armed, blocked the Otukpo/Oju federal highway in protest of the decision of their leaders to allot parcels of land for the establishment of the new institution.
“While Akpegede and Otobi communities gave the Senate President the go ahead to use their land for the institution given its attendant benefits to their communities, some youths in Asa 111, an area which is a renown hotbed for opposition politics in Benue South senatorial district and mostly dominated by people from Okpiko in Ohimini local government, for whatever reasons renounced the decision of the leaders and elders of the community to have the institution domiciled in their community,” a witness had reported.
“In their protest, they went as far as barricading the road for some days which prompted the decision of the Police to intervene with the use of tear-gas canisters to disperse the resilient youths in order to allow motorists and pedestrians the use of the road.” “But unfortunately, the action of the Police was resisted by the youths who responded with gunshots, injuring five of the Police men and six others,” he said.
Police Arrest over 100 in UNZA Riots, Set Room on Fire
Nearly 105 people were arrested in yesterday’s protest by University of Zambia students triggered by the rise in the cost of leaving following President Michael Sata’s abrupt decision to remove subsidies on fuel and mealie meal. However, police later discovered that of the 105 arrested only 25 were students while the rest were not part of the riots. Lusaka Province commissioner Joyce Kasosa made an official statement claiming only 31 were arrested when 105 were still being held and screened.
This was after President Sata publicly directed Kasosa to arrest protesting University of Zambia students over the government demanding the reversal of subsidies on fuels and maize subsidies. The students were clad in black dubbed Black Friday as they demonstrated but when police came to disperse them, they set some room at the Great East Campus on fire, choked many with teargas in fierce running battles.
The shadow of United Party for National Development leader Hakainde Hichilema seemingly continued to haunt the President as he lay the student’s protests on the opposition leader claiming he had funded them to cause instability. President Sata, who was on one of his whirlwind foundation stone laying missions, called on Kasosa to move to the podium and stand next to education minister John Phiri as he instructed her to lock up all the protesting students.
“Where is Joyce Kasosa? You, come here. Stand next to that minister, we are not going to clear any institution but we are going to take care of those students who are creating trouble, arrest all of those and lock them up, those who are protesting against removal of subsidies,” Sata said. Hundreds of police officers have been deployed at the Great East Road campus where the atmosphere remains tense with students not yet giving up on being heard despite the cops’ high handedness in dealing with the otherwise peaceful students.
Similar protests were held at the Copperbelt University in Kitwe and Mulungushi University in Kabwe. The protest at Mulungushi University turned violent on Friday night with gunshots heard during the riots. The widespread increase in prices following government’s removal of subsidies have sparked anger among the citizenry that feel the Patriotic Front has back tracked on their promise to provide relief for the poor once in power. Students mobilized themselves and attempted to march to State House but their move was met with force as police officers fired teargas near Arcades Shopping Mall disrupting business.
Miners, teachers clash with Bolivian police during protests demanding higher old-age pensions
LA PAZ, Bolivia – Hundreds of miners, teachers and other workers have marched in Bolivia’s capital on the 11th day of protests called by the country’s largest union to demand higher old-age pensions. Miners exploded dynamite and protesters tried to occupy the plaza where Bolivia’s seats of government are located.
Police forced protesters back with tear gas. The protests called by the Bolivian Workers Central began May 5. There were no immediate reports of injuries or arrests Thursday, but protests last week left 33 people injured and more than 100 detained.
Protesters are demanding that President Evo Morales’ government double pensions, which currently range from $21 to $28 a month. The government is offering an 81 per cent hike. Morales said Thursday’s protest involved “about 500 or 1,000 miners, and 1,000 teachers, perhaps more.”