Social unrest in northern Colombia worsens; 2 dead, 12 injured in riots
Following two weeks of escalating protests of thousands of local farmers, local media on Sunday reported that two protesters had been killed. The two-week-long protests in Norte de Santander department worsened after police opened fire at demonstrators on Friday, human rights NGO Lawyer’s Collective Jose Alvear Restrepo said in a press release. Additionally, doctors at a hospital in the town of Ocaña said it had additionally received seven injured protesters and five injured members of security forces which had been sent to the region to control the protests
At least 10,000 farmers belonging to the seven municipalities of the embattled Catatumbo region have been taking part in the protests that erupted on June 10. The farmers are demanding the government define the area as a semi-autonomous rural reserve zone, and temporary stop the eradication of coca crops as the protesters claim those growing coca do not have been offered alternatives to provide for their families.
Local Ombudsman delegate Carmen Ligia Galvis said that the situation had worsened after two groups of peasants from different municipalities joined in the municipality of Tibu. The protesters accused police of intimidation and excessive violence. Local news organizations have also said to have been threatened by police. “It was a violent response by the Government to whom we hold responsible for all these events,” local Juan Carlos Quintero told Cuban state news agency Prensa Latina. Weekly Semana reported Sunday that protesters had set fire to the Mayor’s Office and the local prosecution office in Tibu, while police claimed the riots had been infiltrated by the country’s largest guerrilla group, the FARC, who exercise strong control in the area.
The FARC, whose leader “Timochenko” is believed to be operating from Catatumbo, sent out a statement calling on authorities to lower the level of violence. Authorities generally say protests have been infiltrated by the rebel group. “We are getting impatient by the difficult situation in the Catatumbo and therefore we hope soon to meet with the President, Juan Manuel Santos, to give a peaceful solution to all these problems,” Governor Edgar Diaz Contreras said last week. Moreover, the governor called on the protesters to stop damaging infrastructure as he stated it only hindered the development of a peaceful solution.
“We reject the violence generated in the municipalities of Tibu and Ocaña, against official institutions, authorities and the community and invite to calm, consultation and dialogue to achieve solutions that will ensure the prosperity and development of the Catatumbo region,” he said.
Occupied Chilean schools might face soldiers, police
With presidential primaries less than two weeks away, the Chilean security forces may forcibly remove student protesters from high schools designated as voting locations. Student protesters may face eviction from occupied public high schools that are designated as polling places before the June 30 primary election if the government’s election authority doesn’t find new places for voters to cast their ballots.
TomaJune23As the academic year has progressed, dozens of Chilean schools have gone into “toma”, a protest tactic in which students occupy their school buildings for extended periods. Many of those schools also serve as polling places, and at least five in the Metropolitan Region designated voting locations remained in occupation on Friday. Chilean law dictates that the military and the Carabineros — Chile’s uniformed police force — must take control of all voting locations at least two days before any election. With the primaries scheduled for June 30, police or military forces could start moving in on the tomas by the end of next week.
Spokespersons from the Liceo Arturo Alessandri Palma, the Liceo Carmela Carvajal, and the Liceo José Victorino Lastarria — three public schools designated polling places in the Santiago area — confirmed that their schools had already voted to remain in toma past election day, but that they planned to peacefully evacuate most or all of their students if the military arrives to dislodge them. “We spoke with the municipal authority of Santiago, and they told us that it was crazy for us to confront soldiers,” said Torres.
However, he added, the students would probably reoccupy the school after the election, pending a vote. In order to avoid a violent confrontation, the mayors of the municipalities of Santiago and Providencia have petitioned the government to move the polling places to elementary schools. So far, Chile’s Electoral Service (Servel) — the arm of the government responsible for conducting elections — has turned down their requests. Officials from Servel declined to comment for this article.
Earlier this week, Interior Minister Andés Chadwick sent a memo to the agency instructing it to enforce the law as written. “In order to carry out the electoral law, I have reminded Servel to take control of the public order 48 hours in advance [of the elections],” he said in a press conference at the presidential palace, La Moneda. “In concordance with electoral procedure, the authorities designated by the law, which are the ‘jefes de plaza’ or ‘jefes de zona electoral,’ will have the responsibility of ensuring that polling places are open and available for voting,” he added. “Jefes de plaza” and “jefes de zona electoral” are military officials tasked with maintaining order during elections.
A wave of student unrest rattled the city this week after the Carabineros forcibly entered the student-occupied administrative offices of the Universidad de Chile in the aftermath of a protest march that had turned violent. After video emerged of uniformed police officers beating students with batons and launching tear gas canisters inside the building, dozens more universities and high schools around the country “mobilized,” preparing to take take school-wides votes that could initiate strikes or tomas. More than 30 high schools that serve as polling places for the Santiago metropolitan region currently have mobilized student bodies.
Hundreds “fired or suspended” for Cambodian casino strike
(Reuters) – More than 400 Cambodian croupiers, drivers, cleaners and other workers have been sacked or suspended by the Hong Kong-listed owner of their casino after going on strike for higher pay and better working conditions, they said on Monday. Strikes over pay and working conditions are on the rise in Cambodia, particularly in the garment sector, where low-cost labour has attracted many Western brands in recent years.
Hundreds of strikers demonstrated on Monday outside the NagaWorld hotel and casino complex, owned by Nagacorp Ltd . One of them, Seng Lay Heng, 22, read out a text message she had received from management saying: “Your contract with NagaWorld is terminated with immediate effect.” “This is illegal. The company can’t just fire us without a reason,” she said, adding the workers had gone on strike legally. The company did not respond to requests for comment in either Cambodia or Hong Kong.
Last week, riot police and security guards broke up a peaceful protest, mostly by women, and briefly detained 19 NagaWorld workers and union representatives, according to the Cambodian Tourism and Service Workers Federation. About 1,000 workers have been on strike since June 13, demanding that Nagaworld increase their pay to up to $150 from $80 a month, or by 20 percent for those already earning more than $150. According to a memo emailed to senior staff, 413 workers had had their contracts “terminated/suspended”. It was not clear what was meant by “suspended”. The strikers “have been identified to have been involved in the illegal strike against the company”, management said in the email seen by Reuters.
Police charges 44 Uyo varsity students for murder
The Akwa Ibom Police command said 44 out of the 45 students it arrested during the June 12 protest that rocked University of Uyo have been charged with murder and arson. The students were brought to court by the police in eight Hilux Pick-Up vans amid tight security provided operatives of the State Security Service (SSS) and mobile police force. The students appeared before Magistrate Lawrence Udonwa on a five count-charge of arson and murder. Magistrate Udonwa held that since the case involved murder and arson, the police shouldn’t have brought the suspected rioters before him. He held that the law upon which the police acted was obsolete and out-dated.
Magistrate, however, ordered that the case be transferred to the High Court in Uyo. The parents of most of the students were present at the court. Most of them cried uncontrollably while accusing the police of not arresting the real perpetrators of the dastardly act. The June 12 peaceful protest turned violence when police on the order of the school management applied minimum force to end the riot. The police threw several tear-gas canisters and shot sporadically to disperse the rioters. In the process, a 200-level Zoology student, Kingsley Umoette, died. Properties worth millions of naira were destroyed by the protesting students after Kingsley’s death.
200 police deployed to control protest in Ashaiman
The Ashaiman District Command has announced the deployment of 200 personnel to patrol the municipality to maintain law and order.Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) David Eklu told journalists that the team will offer 24-hour patrol to residents and commuters in the wake of Monday’s violent demonstration by some irate youth in the area. Hundreds of the angry youth blocked major entry and exit routes to the Ashaiman Municipality of Accra, to draw attention to the deplorable condition of roads in the area. They burnt tyres, seized the tollbooth at the Ashaiman end on the Tema-Accra motorway and reportedly made away with cash and other valuables belonging to officials manning the booths.
The protest later turned violent when the protesters pelted the security officers with objects, as they attempted to fire tear gas to disperse them. At least one police officer suffered serious injury and was rushed to a nearby hospital for treatment. It took a combined team of police and the military several hours to bring sanity to the community. DSP Eklu said eleven suspects have so far been arrested in connection with the disturbance for further investigations and possible prosecution if found culpable.