Clashes erupt at Indonesia demos against fuel hike
Masked protesters hurling Molotov cocktails clashed with police firing water cannons and tear gas in the Indonesian capital Monday, as thousands demonstrated nationwide against a plan to hike fuel prices. Clashes erupted outside the gates of the national parliament in Jakarta as lawmakers inside debated passing a revised budget that would pave the way for a 33 percent average increase in the fuel price, the first hike since 2008. Fuel prices have long been a flashpoint issue in Indonesia, with economists arguing that government subsidies which gobble up a huge chunk of the budget are damaging Southeast Asia’s top economy.
However, millions are opposed to lowering the payouts, which keep down the cost of living, and huge protests have in the past forced the government to abandon attempts to raise the fuel price. About 3,000 protesters earlier gathered outside the gates of parliament in Jakarta, and as night fell some began hurling Molotov cocktails, fireworks, rocks and bottles at security forces around the legislature. Police fired back numerous volleys of tear gas at the protesters, many of whom had their faces covered and were waving banners reading
“Reject the fuel price rise” and “Hang SBY” (President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono). Two heavily armoured police vehicles rolled out of the grounds of the parliament and fired water cannon in a bid to disperse the demonstrators. Earlier, demonstrators set tyres alight outside the parliament, sending a pall of black smoke into the air. “All Indonesians must take to the streets so that the government won’t hike the fuel price,” one of the protesters, 24-year-old Slamet Riyadi, told AFP.
“The life of poor people will be much more difficult if there is an increase.” About 19,000 police and military personnel were deployed across Jakarta, police said. Protests also flared in other parts of the country. In the city of Ternate, in the eastern Maluku islands, five protesters, a journalist and seven policemen were injured at a demonstration, police said. A 2,000-strong crowd hurled sticks and rocks at police, who responded by firing rubber bullets at the demonstrators, said a national police spokesman. In Jambi, a city on Sumatra island, hundreds of protesters tried to push through the gate in front of the local legislature but police dispersed them by firing tear gas, police said.
RMG protest spread to Gazipur
Workers of a ready-made garment factory smashed vehicles and blocked the Dhaka-Mymensingh highway on Monday morning in Gazipur demanding introduction of lunch allowance and a hike in attendance bonus. Workers of ‘Uni Gears’, located in Sadr Upazila’s Boardbazar Barabari area took to the streets around 8am, Industrial Police Inspector Mohammad Selim Khan said. “They demanded raising attendance bonus to Tk 600 from the existing Tk 400 and payment of Tk 400 as lunch fees,” he said. The workers pelted stones at vehicles.
Police intervened after a brief stand-off and pitched battles erupted sporadically, the Inspector said. Police resorted to baton-charge and lobbed teargas shells to bring the situation under control, he said. “The workers dispersed around 9am after which traffic on the highway resumed.” “Huge number of police has been deployed in the area.” Earlier on Saturday, ‘UNi Gears’ workers agitated to uphold the same demands, but called off their protests after they were assured negotiations by the management. But as the management did not start negotiations, they hit the streets on Monday again.
Riots in Lusaka Break Out After Mini Bus Drivers Protest
Spontaneous riots have broken out in some parts of Lusaka after bus and taxi drivers packed their cars in protest for what they term as maltreatment by police. The taxi drivers are complaining that the police impound their cars unnescessarily making them fail to meet their targets as fuel prices have shot up making it impossible to operate. In Chainda the cops have had to fire teargas provoking the situation to spill out of control. In Matero the situation has also degenerated into chaos after the police reportedly fired warning shots with people from neaibouring Eemmasdale joining in the fracas. Bus drivers and taxi drivers had announced that they will hold a protest over the behaviour of the Road Traffic and Safety Agency.
3 RMG workers receive bullet injury in capital
At least three readymade garment workers received bullet-injury while seven other got hurt in a clash between workers and law-enforcers at city’s Gulshan Link Road on Monday. The bullet injured victims – Sharmin, 22, Tania, 19, and Bidyut, 28 — were admitted to Dhaka Medical College Hospital, reports banglanews24.com.
The clash erupted shortly after hundreds of workers of Eouta Garments took to the streets around 8am protesting the shutdown of their factory without any notice. Later, other factory workers joined the protest and blocked Gulshan Link Road when Eouta Graments workers threw bricks and pebbles at the other nearby factories. Meanwhile, vehicular communications on Gulshan, Badda and Tejgaon roads were halted for two hours. Later, police baton-charged, fired dozens of tear shells and rubber bullets to bring the situation under control leaving some 10 to 12 people injured, reports our correspondent. Sources said workers of the factory had been demanding an increase in their salary and allowances.
Tejgaon Industrial Zone officer-in-charge Moniruzzaman Mia and the officer-in-charge of Gulshan police station confirmed the matter. Police rushed in and brought the situation under control and extra police have been deployed in the area to avoid further incident, Deputy Police Commissioner Bipob Kumar Sarkar said. Tejgaon Zone Deputy Police Commissioner Biplob Sarker said: “Workers started hurling brick-chips aiming police. At one stage, police charged baton, fire tear shells, and rubber bullets to bring the situation under control.”
Tunisian college grads and police clash over unemployment
Unemployment is such a major problem for youth in the Tunisian city of Metlaoui that it led to clashes with police last week. In the mineral-rich region of Gafsa, the young and educated can no longer bear the disappointments of endemic unemployment. Last week, unemployed graduates organized a sit-in in front of the headquarters of the Gafsa Phosphate Company, one of Tunisia’s largest companies, to demand jobs.
Thursday, they organised a protest march that led to clashes with police when some of the protesters tried to block a train carrying phosphate. Despite being home to one of the world’s largest phosphate deposits, the region’s unemployment rate is more than 40%, according to a study by the Centre for Economic Studies of the Arab Institute of Business Managers. More than 62% of Gafsa college graduates are unemployed.