Cambodian workers rally over arrested Nike strikers
Cambodia: Thousands of Cambodian workers protested Wednesday against the arrest of strikers during a police crackdown at a factory making clothes for US sportswear giant Nike, unionists said. Cambodia’s workers are seeking to flex their muscles over discontent at low wages and tough conditions in the multibillion-dollar textile industry, which produces goods for top western brands. Eight workers were arrested on Monday at the sportswear factory when riot police broke up a demonstration calling for higher pay, but the charges against them have not yet been announced, Free Trade Union secretary general Say Sokny told AFP.
About 2,000 to 3,000 garment workers rallied outside the Kampong Speu provincial court in southern Cambodia demanding their release, she said, as riot police stood by. At least 10 workers were hurt during the crackdown, which followed violent scenes at the same factory last week when riot police allegedly used stun batons against strikers, who have now been protesting for more than a week. A pregnant woman suffered a miscarriage in that incident, according to protesters. Days later, three people were knocked unconscious after police fired water jets at a protest in Phnom Penh over disputed land, adding to activists’ concerns over the kingdom’s tough stance towards dissent.
Rights groups said the crackdowns suggest Cambodia’s government is seeking to silence its critics before elections due on July 28, with strongman premier Hun Sen looking to extend his near three-decade grip on power. “The government fears the protests will lead to social unrest because of the upcoming election and what happened in the Arab world and recently in Turkey,” Ou Virak, president of the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights, told AFP. “But the government’s iron-fisted action will only cause anger,” he added.
Embu High vandalised as students riot
A private Secondary school owned by a last year’s general election’s Embu governor seat candidate was yesterday greatly damaged by students protesting alleged punishment of their colleagues over indiscipline. Embu High school which is owned by academician Kithinji Kiragu, who unsuccessfully contested Embu governor’s seat, had a dormitory partially burnt up. Irate students also smashed the windscreens of the principal’s pick-up truck before overturning it and further broke windowpanes on dormitories and classrooms. The students who were allegedly protesting against punishment of 15 truant students pulled down a section of perimeter wall before scores of them fled from the school to Embu town.
When the star visited the school in the morning it found the dormitory christened as Camp David partially burnt with some students personal properties having been reduced to ashes. The dormitory was partially burnt with the fire greatly blackening the walls and burning some Decker beds and mattresses. Window panes on several buildings including the administration block were smashed. The pickup truck belonging to the principal was later lifted up and put on its wheels. The students were only prevented from causing massive damage of property after the principal Lawrence Kimani called in the police and the fire brigade who responded quickly.
The administration and the regular police officers dispersed the students before several of them retreated within the school and others ran away to the neighbouring villages and others walked about twenty kilometres to Embu town. The fire brigade on the other side moved in quickly and put out the fire before it could spread and cause more damage Students who talked to the press said that the riot was caused by the punishment of three students for allegedly running from school before some other twelve students were suspended for allegedly trying to incite their colleagues to strike over the matter. The students said there had been tension for the last one week and their effort to have dialogue with the administration was futile. However the principal said he suspected the students were acting out of pressure of the continuous assessment test they were carrying last week.
Zimbabwe: Kriste Mambo Protests Being Investigated
Rusape — Investigations into students’ protest that has rocked Kriste Mambo High School in Rusape since Saturday have been opened, Makoni deputy education officer Mr Creezin Chofamba has said. The strike action by the girls has left the education delivery process in turmoil as nearly 600 female students trooped out of school on Sunday, only to be intercepted by police some 25km away on their way to the district education offices. “You have made your point, and investigations into your grievances are starting tomorrow (today). We are supposed to be through by Friday. We are expecting your co-operation, because the process involves interviewing each of you,” said Mr Chofamba.
The unrest started on Saturday after security guards at the school allegedly beat up five school boys from neighbouring St Faith’s High School who had accompanied their relatives for a Form One entrance test that was being held at Kriste Mambo. The pupils cited abusive treatment by a named security guard and their matron. A source close to investigations said they had interviewed nine pupils over the issue. “There is disengagement between school management and the students who have a lot of complaints. The students allege that for many years they have been forced to buy all the uniforms, including those for sports, from the headmaster’s wife.
“This is in contravention of Statutory Instrument 89 of 1992 that governs the operations of school development committees,” the source said. “It is clear in the instrument that the headmaster and his wife or any member of the SDC must not engage in any contract with the school because they have an unfair advantage over other bidders as they have knowledge of funds in the school account.” The source said some of the uniforms sold to the pupils were of cheap quality. “The children said the uniforms were expensive yet they were of cheap quality. The other issue that ignited the whole saga was that of two Form Four pupils from St Faith’s High School, Tinotenda Gwikwi and Blessing Mushekeni, who had visited Kriste Mambo. They were allegedly beaten up by the guard at the school, prompting pupils from Kriste Mambo to protest.”
The source said a similar situation had happened at the school in 2010. “Something needs to be done because this is not the first time for such a thing to happen. This is a Roman Catholic School and the head seems to get support from the provincial church leadership despite the wrong doings,” added the source. The headmaster, Mr Andrew Mvere, refused to comment. “They have some issues. However, I cannot talk to you as policy does not allow me to talk to reporters,” said Mr Mvere. The students were addressed by the police, parents’ representatives, and officials from the education ministry — who all pleaded with them to allow the ministry time to do its investigations.
Superintendent Alfred Kasingarirwi confirmed the disturbances at the school and said the situation was under control. It took the intervention of the riot police to restrain the students. The police were deployed at the school overnight. “In the meantime you will not be allowed to demonstrate. You will not be allowed to walk out of the school again. “The police will not hesitate to deal decisively with you. Remember some of you are writing the June exams, and you are creating a bad environment for them,” said Supt Kasingarirwi.
Nyakayojo SS students strike over miniskirt ban
A total of 720 students at Nyakayojo SS in Mbarara district have been sent home over a strike protesting the ban on miniskirts in school. Heavily armed anti-riot police on Monday evening fired teargas to disperse the rowdy students who reported for the second term only last week. The students were striking over the ban on wearing miniskirts in school, poor quality meals, harassment by teachers and administration not addressing their complaints. However, Simeon Kakondo Banturaki, the school headmaster, said they were shocked by the claims of poor quality meals, saying the school on Monday slaughtered a bull for students as they celebrated Uganda Martyrs day. He said the strike was started by girls who boycotted supper after the head of their hostel confiscated miniskirts from some students.
“Boys took meals but girls refused to go to the kitchen because they were angry at the head of the hostel for allegedly confiscating miniskirts. When I intervened boys joined the rowdy girls and started throwing stones at me,” Kakondo said. Property worth millions of shillings was destroyed in the strike. Several buildings were vandalized including the computer lab, library, classrooms, staff quarters, administration block and dormitories. The school board, administration and Police on Tuesday held a meeting and resolved to send away the students as they investigations take place. Rev Can. Simon Mutabazi, the board chairman, said the school has been closed till further notice until they are done with investigations into allegations raised by the students.
Kakondo added that students used the banning of miniskirts as a “scapegoat”, saying students had other hidden motives which they don’t want to disclose to the administration. Miria Ninsiima, the head of girl’s hostel, confirmed confiscating miniskirts from three students. She explained that the school is against indecent dressing. “Our students and their parents are aware that we don’t allow miniskirts but girls have insisted on wearing skimpy clothes. We have to restrict them and emphasise the dress code to look smart and responsible,” she said.
Karachiites out against power failure
KARACHI – Karachiites staged protest against the power failure in various localities here on Tuesday. The enraged protesters including women and children gathered at the Shahrah-e-Pakistan, suspending the traffic flow for several on one of the main city roads. They burnt tyres and chanted slogans against the KESC. They said that 24-hour non-stop power loadshedding compelled them staged protest. They said they have been billed by the KESC without being provided electricity.
Later, the protesters also blocked a road in Mosa Colony and chanted slogans against the suspension of power supply. They said the billing of electricity continues without interruption but power supply remains suspended even the city temperature climbs up. They said a few electricity consumers failed to pay their dues but the KESC administration suspended power supply to at least 200 houses in the area. They demanded the authorities concerned to take notice of the matter and ensure power supply to the areas.
Power cuts prompt protests in Upper Egypt, Nile Delta
Ongoing power outages nationwide – which have coincided with sharply rising summertime temperatures – have prompted Egyptians in several governorates to hit the streets in protest. The electricity ministry has blamed the frequent blackouts on fuel shortages and an overloaded national electricity grid, as air-conditioning usage continues to increase amid ongoing heat waves. According to official figures, Egypt’s national electricity consumption this summer is expected to rise to 29,500 megawatts per day. The country’s total daily electricity-production capacity, however, currently stands at some 27,000 megawatts.
At a Tuesday meeting of the Shura Council (the upper house of Egypt’s parliament), Electricity Minister Ahmed Emam said that Egypt required some LE200 million to boost its flagging energy sector, along with another LE30 billion annually to build a string of new power stations. Earlier on Tuesday, hundreds of residents of the Nile Delta’s Gharbiya governorate blocked the Cairo-Alexandria agricultural road with burning tyres to protest increasingly frequent daytime power outages, Al-Ahram’s Arabic-language news website reported. In a related development, dozens of residents of the northern Damietta governorate – known for its local furniture-manufacturing industry – were reportedly angered by a spate of power cuts on Tuesday that affected their industrial output. And on Sunday, dozens of residents of the Upper Egyptian city of Aswan forcibly halted local railway activity to express their unhappiness with the frequent blackouts.
One day earlier, Egypt signed an agreement with Saudi Arabia to link the two nations’ electricity grids, a project worth some $1.6 billion and expected to generate an additional 3,000 megawatts of power daily. Egypt currently has around 220 electricity generators nationwide, which consume roughly 100 million cubic metres of fuel on a daily basis, according to recent statements by the electricity minister. Notably, the government recently increased the daily quantities of natural gas supplied to power stations from 77 million to 84 million cubic metres in an attempt to meet rising electricity demand.
Hearing of 10 villagers for anti-CNPC protest postpones
Kyauk Pru township court in Arakan has postponed the hearing of 10 villagers who have been charged by the police for leading a protest demonstration against Chinese National Petroleum Cooperation (CNPC) recently in the State of Arakan. Ko Tun Kyi, one of 10 villagers facing charges by the police, informed that the judge of Kyauk Pru court yesterday postponed their hearing to 13 June as they could not arrive in the court all together on the last hearing on 3 June 2013. Nearly 600 villagers of Mradea island marched into CNPC’s office there on 18 April 2013 to express their angers against the Chinese petroleum project in Shwe gas field.
The villagers organized the protest programme against the CNPC without obtaining the permission from the local authority. Before the demonstration, the villagers however requested the authority to grant the permission, but they were denied which compelled the agitating farmers to do so without the valid permission. Afterward, the police sued 10 villagers for leading the protest programme illegally (read without permissions from the authority). The local sources inform that the CNPC is now constructing a connecting road among the villages of the island. The demand for a road was included in the charter placed by the agitating villagers during the 18 April demonstrations.
The villagers placed a nine point charter during the protest programme including a) to compensate the farmer against the confiscated lands with international standards, b) to construct connecting roads among the villages, c) to employ all villagers living in the island at work-sites of Shwe gas project if they have workers’ registration, d) to supply electricity to all villages located on the island, e) to scrutinize all workers coming from outside in order to avoid crimes in the island, f) to allow villagers for fishing in the surrounding offshore areas of the island, g) not to confiscate lands on the island without the people’s consent, h) to repair a broken embankment on the Island immediately and i) to compensate those who have suffered due to the oil & gas project.
Afghans protest against US forces after discovery of mutilated bodies
When relatives identified three mutilated bodies dug up near a former US special forces base as their missing family members, they decided to take the corpses to the capital of restive Wardak province and organise a protest to spread word of their loss. By noon on Tuesday, hundreds of people had flooded the streets of Maidan Shar town, blocking the main road to Kandahar and Kabul and shouting “Death to America” and “Death to special forces”. By early afternoon two more men were dead and one seriously injured after police opened fire to control what they said was an increasingly violent crowd. The three bodies were just the latest grisly discovery in the troubled Nerkh district, where locals say a string of civilians disappeared into a military base housing US special forces.
They claim they were then tortured and killed. Their families blame American forces, although the base was shared with Afghan troops and a US military spokesman strongly denied any abuses by foreign soldiers. But locals have continued to blame US forces. “We have found 10 bodies of people killed by Americans in total, seven before and three more today, on the west side of the US base,” said Sediqullah, a de-miner whose brother’s body was one of the three found on Monday. “His name was Atiqullah, he was 38 years old and a shopkeeper in Maidan Shar,” said the 42-year-old, before going on to list the names and professions of the other dead, who included a teacher, a taxi driver, a government worker and casual labourers.
He said their bodies bore signs of torture. “They cut their fingers and beat their stomach and head with rocks,” he said by phone from his home just outside Maidan Shar. “They were poor people who just had ordinary business and were just working to feed their families.” A senior Wardak politician said the 10 men all vanished at the end of last year, and their families had been seeking news of them for months. “When there was a lot of snow, about 10 people disappeared in Nerkh and already about a month and a half ago seven bodies were found. The last part of the process was today, when three more bodies were found,” said Hazrat Mohammad Janan, deputy head of the provincial council.
“It is not clear who killed them, though protesters were accusing the US soldiers.” Wardak was at the heart of a showdown between the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, and US forces earlier this year. Karzai ordered all foreign special forces troops out of the province after receiving reports claiming that the elite units had been involved in the disappearance of civilians in Nerkh. Eventually the two sides agreed that while special forces would leave that district, they would stay on in the rest of Wardak, a province with a heavy Taliban presence, until Afghan forces were better prepared to battle the insurgency alone. Meanwhile government investigators continued to pursue the claims and now believe that at least 17 people from the province disappeared into US custody, the New York Times reported recently.
Most have now been found dead, and authorities want to arrest a man they say was part of a special forces unit operating there, the paper said. Evidence includes a video of a torture session conducted by “Zakaria Kandahari”, who investigators say is of Afghan descent but was raised in the US.
Workers protest against outsourcing
Hundreds of workers from PT Bali Taru Utama, a stationery company located in Tangerang regency, took to the streets to demand that the management abandon outsourcing, which they said was affecting their livelihood. Demonstrators rallied on the main road leading to the regent’s office, hoisting banners protesting against the outsourcing and calling on the management to re-employ three workers who were dismissed for organizing resistance to the policy.
“We demand that the management renew the contracts of the three workers who were fired without clear reasons,” rally coordinator Imam Sukars said after speaking at a free speech forum held in front of the regent’s office. In Karawaci, approximately 2,000 workers from PT Sulindafin, a subsidiary of textile company PT Shinta Group, went on strike, demanding the management fulfill their rights, including paying them the regional minimum wage and social security.