Farmers Denounce Militarization of Colombian Catatumbo
Bogota, July 16 (Prensa Latina) Farmers in Colombian Catatumbo, in protests for 37 days now, expressed today their concern about the arrival of another 5,000 troops to the area amid government pressure for them to clear totally the roads. “The mobilization will remain until the State reach real, effective agreements to solve social and economic emergency of Catatumbo,” insisted growers, who demand guarantees in case the militaries try to evict them forcibly.
Tension continues intensifying in Tibu municipality, the epicenter of the protests. In a public speech today, President Juan Manuel Santos urged the farmers again to clear roads. “I will never allow them to impose on me the establishment of farmer reservation zones,” he said. The issue of the Reservation Zone has been maintained by the government in the agenda of three failed talks with the farmers, who demand that declaration to prevent the advance of the division of land into large estates, deepened in that region through militarism.
According to Telesur channel, the public force was waiting for a president’s order to storm the area while the farmers indicate their concern about the use of firearms again by the troops. In recent remarks to Telesur, Gilma Tellez, a leader of the protest, said they are tired of so many promises only in paper. “If we clear the roads I’m certain the Government will fail to comply with their promises again. The protest has left four farmers dead and more than 50 seriously wounded.
Colombian Government and Catatumbo Farmers Disagree
Bogota,Jul 16 (Prensa Latina) The negotiations between the Colombian Government and the farmers of the Catatumbo region, on strike for seven weeks, reached a deadlock after a long meeting where none of the parts agreed on the subject. Deputy president Angelino Garzon seemed capable of untangling the situation, but the hopes vanished again. The government insists that farmers must clear the roads but they reply, as they have done from the beginning of the strike, that they will do it after the achievement of their demands
. In a communique published by Agencia de Prensa Rural (Rural Press Agency), the demonstrators pointed out that they decided to reject president Juan Manuel Santos’ claim of clearing the Cucuta-Tibu road. “The demonstration will be carried out until the State agrees real and effective solutions to sort out the social and economic emergency of Catacumbo region” said the farmers who expressed they were willing to clear the roads to let the humanitarian caravans pass by. The farmers expected the government to agree at least on two issues, a way to declare a Reserve Zone, the main refusal of the government, and pensions for the victims of the violent eradication of illegal growing.
In statements to the press, Garzon said that the government strived for the solution but “the farmers lost their chance and for that reason there will not hold any other conversations about Catatumbo”. “That is all for the deputy president”, said Garzon referring to his role as mediator in the resumption of negotiations, said El Tiempo newspaper. As before, the demonstrators fear that the police, the army and the riot squads take reprisals and they ask for protection in case they try to move them away. “If violent solution is chosen, we reiterate that the life and integrity of farmers is a responsibility of the president and his management. Santos must ban public forces from shooting fire weapons against the civilian population” said farmers.
Israeli forces shoot, injure man at Nabi Saleh protest
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Two people were injured on Tuesday during a protest in the Ramallah-area village of Nabi Saleh, Israel’s army and locals said. Mahmoud Tamimi, 22, was shot in the leg with live fire during the protest, his relatives said on social media. The bullet severed a main artery in Tamimi’s thigh and he remains in a serious condition, his family added. Palestinian journalist Bilal Tamimi was assaulted by Israeli soldiers while covering the protest, witnesses said.
Israeli forces also smashed his camera. An Israeli army spokesman said that approximately 100 Palestinians took part in a “violent and illegal riot” and hurled rocks and rolled burning tires towards soldiers at the scene, who responded with riot dispersal means. “One soldier was injured during the riot, and soldiers sensing imminent danger to their lives fired towards a main instigator, registering a direct hit,” he added. The suspect was treated at the scene by Israeli medics and transferred to a hospital in Ramallah, the army spokesman said.
Guangdong Villagers Clash With Factory Workers Over Pollution
Authorities in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong have promised to halt production at two factories near Sihui city after demonstrators blocked the gates, clashing with workers in the third mass environmental protest in the region this week, activists said on Tuesday. Local residents said vehicles continued to come in and out of the main gates of an ink-making plant and a print factory on Tuesday, however, raising suspicions that production may still be going on.
The promise from local government officials came after hundreds of residents of Sihui’s Baisha village converged on the Nanyue Screen Printing Factory and the Precision Ink. Co. Ltd. plant, which they claim are polluting the local environment. “We blocked up their gates using cement,” one protester surnamed Lu said on Tuesday. “We demanded that the workers on the production floor stop work, but they closed the door on us and wouldn’t let us in.””A group of people got overexcited and forced their way onto the shop floor, and got into a fight with some of the workers there,” Lu said. “A number of villagers were injured in the fight, and had to be taken to hospital.”
A second Baisha resident surnamed Liang said anger had been mounting over alleged pollution from both factories among local people for a number of years. “In recent years, people have been getting sick, and it’s getting worse and worse,” Liang said. “A lot of villagers have developed respiratory diseases like asthma and pneumonia.” “A lot of people have constant sore throats and inflammation, too, while some of the older people in the village have lung cancer,” he said.
“The kids all have upper respiratory tract inflammation, asthma and even pneumonia.” Lu said villagers were still suspicious that the promise to halt production hadn’t been carried out, because both factories provided high levels of income to local government through taxation. “These two factories are class A taxpayers to the Sihui municipal goverment,” he said. “They are very large, and they pay huge amounts in taxes.” “They are big customers around these parts, and they hire a lot of workers, so of course the government is going to be on their side.”
An employee who answered the phone at the neighborhood committee of the ruling Chinese Communist Party in Sihui’s Chengzhong district declined to comment. “I don’t know about this,” the employee said. Repeated calls to the district environmental protection department went unanswered during office hours on Tuesday. An employee who answered the phone at the Nanyue Screen Printing Co. said administrative staff were operating normally on Tuesday, but declined to comment on the protest, or on the reported halt in production. “We are all at work, and things are running normally,” the employee said, in reference to the office staff. “I don’t really know about it, because the top-level leadership is dealing with it.”
The Sihui confrontation on Monday marks the third mass environmental protest in Guangdong this week. On the same day, thousands of people marched in Huadu district of the provincial capital Guangzhou in protest over plans to build a waste incinerator plant on their doorstep. And the Huadu protest came just one day after residents of Jiangmen won an apparent concession from local officials, who said they would cancel plans to build a nuclear fuel processing plant near the city after three days of demonstrations. Worsening levels of air and water pollution, as well as disputes over the effects of heavy metals from mining and industry, have forced ordinary Chinese to become increasingly involved in environmental protection and protest.
Libyan oil port ‘stormed by armed protesters’
Armed protesters have stormed the eastern Libyan oil port of Zueitina in an attempt to stop export operations, a witness has said. The raid on Tuesday at the port, 850km east of Tripoli, came hours after workers temporarily suspended a strike and resumed production at oilfields that pump to the terminal. It was not immediately known what the protesters wanted, but an engineer working at the port recognised them as being part of a group of civilian demonstrators who shut down the terminal for several weeks earlier this year demanding jobs.
“The group arrived and asked that operations be shut down,” the engineer told the Reuters news agency by phone. “A ship bound for Italy was being loaded with crude and I had to negotiate with them to allow the loading to continue. “It was difficult to convince them but the ship is being loaded. All other export activities are shut down.” A senior Libyan oil industry source confirmed the disruption and said export operations were affected. The incident occurred just hours after workers at Libya’s Zueitina Oil Company suspended their strike that had shut down oilfields and halted operations at the Zueitina terminal, demanding a change in management relating to a dispute over work conditions. The engineer told Reuters earlier production was resuming at those fields
Roads blocked in Khayelitsha protest
Cape Town – Khayelitsha residents protesting against bad policing and slow housing delivery burnt tyres and blocked Pama Road in the early hours of Tuesday morning. The protest, involving dozens of toyi-toying people, has seen sporadic flare-ups since Sunday. It started over allegations of slack police work and slow response times in the area in the last few days. However, residents from ward 91, also known as YAB section, used the opportunity to escalate their concerns about slow housing delivery and poor sanitation in the informal settlement which abuts Pama Road.
Protesters allege police took too long to respond to the scene of a murder on Monday, as well as allowing a robbery suspect to escape from custody. But when they were interviewed by the Cape Argus, lack of housing and sanitation were uppermost in their minds. “Eleven toilets for more than a thousand people, that is the reality. “I have lived here since I was a child; the conditions are terrible. Cars veer off the road sometimes and crash into the shacks. It is unsafe and unhealthy,” complained resident Luvuyo Dinginto, 32, pointing to overflowing drains and a pile of rubbish.
Protests held as YPF, Chevron sign Argentina oil deal
Chevron and Argentina’s state oil giant YPF signed a $1.2 billion agreement on Tuesday to exploit a huge oil reserve, triggering protests over the fracking it will entail. Loma La Lata Norte, in the southern Vaca Muerta reserve area, is one of the world’s largest non-conventional oil and gas shale deposits, and is expected to bring in some $15 billion in total investments. About 1,000 indigenous Mapuche occupied two oil wells at Vaca Muerta on Tuesday, saying they were opposed to the deal. They fear their lands will be polluted by fracking, the controversial practice of blasting water and other fluids into the ground to extract this type of oil and gas.
The environmental group Quebracho also marched in Buenos Aires against the deal. “We Argentines are handing over to the United States our resources,” Nobel peace laureate Adolfo Perez Esquivel said. “And we are turning YPF into a major polluter, since it will use the method known as fracking.” YPF argued that the territory to be exploited is not on traditional Mapuche lands but on government-owned plots.
5 Palestinian journalists injured at Qalandia protest
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — Five Palestinian journalists were injured on Wednesday as Israeli forces dispersed a protest at Qalandiya checkpoint. Israeli forces fired rubber-coated steel bullets and stun grenades while dispersing a protest by the Israeli military checkpoint, injuring Nida Younis, Naela Araj, Mufeed Abu Hasna, Omar Abdul-Raziq, and chairman of the Palestinian Journalist’s Syndicate Abdel Nasser Najjar. The head of the syndicate, Muhammad Lahham, said that Israeli forces fired tear gas at peaceful demonstrators. The protests were part of a worldwide campaign calling for freedom of movement for Palestinian journalists, Lahham said. An Israeli military spokesman told Ma’an that around 70 Palestinians hurled rocks at Israeli forces, who “responded with riot dispersal means.”
PKK training others, ‘public order units’ pressuring locals: reports
Media outlets are reporting that the Kurdistan People’s Party (PKK) has been using checkpoints and so-called public order units set up by the PKK-affiliated Patriotic Revolutionist Youth Movement (YDG-H) to pressure locals in southeastern provinces. The Bugün daily reported on Tuesday that YDG-H members had set up checkpoints and “public order units” in downtown Şırnak, as they had previously done in the southeastern city’s Cizre district. Increased traffic on PKK members’ radio transmitters around downtown Şırnak signaled that the PKK had stepped up its activities in the city; according to the daily, security forces picked up PKK signals in Şırnak’s Gazipaşa neighborhood, the town of Balveren, the villages of Kavuncu and Dağ Konak, and Beytüşşebap and Silopi districts. In conversations heard on PKK radios, high-ranking PKK members instruct PKK militants not to trust the Turkish government and to continue their activities.
Bugün said the PKK’s goal is to incite young people to take to the streets. YDG-H members operating in downtown Şırnak are raiding shops, threatening and assaulting shopowners, and throwing Molotov cocktails at cars and shops to pressure locals, and the so-called public order units frequently clash with Turkish police, according to the daily. In the last month alone, Cizre and the city of Şırnak have seen a total of 160 clashes between police and PKK “public order units,” which threw over 1,000 Molotov cocktails and 100 hand-made explosives at the Turkish police. The story of the PKK “public order units” broke in Turkish media in June with the dissemination of a video showing a group of masked persons in Cizre.
The video showed a military ceremony held by YDG-H members in which members chosen to serve in the “public order units” were awarded diplomas. The YDG-H members’ faces were covered with scarves and they wore T-shirts emblazoned with a picture of jailed PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan as they stood in silent homage to PKK militants killed in clashes with the Turkish military. They then burned car tires on Nusaybin and İdil streets in Cizre and checked the IDs of drivers passing on the roads.
The video caused a strong public reaction. Both the Şırnak Governor’s Office and pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) pledged to investigate the video. The Turkish government is preparing to move forward with the second stage of a settlement process launched with the PKK in October 2012 in a bid to end Turkey’s decades-old conflict between the PKK and state. The second stage consists of constitutional amendments and legal changes to grant more rights and representation to the country’s Kurdish minority.
French police investigate suspected bomb attack by militant winegrowers
French police are investigating a possible return to violence by so-called wine militants after a Socialist party office was hit by an explosive device in the southern city of Carcassonne. Windows were blown out, a door damaged and part of a ceiling collapsed in the attack overnight on Thursday. “Le Foll!!” – the surname of the Socialist agriculture minister – was spraypainted on the wall outside and the initials CAV in blue and red. CAV stands for the Comité d’Action Viticole, or winemakers’ action committee.
No group had claimed the attack on Wednesday, as investigations continued. Active mainly in the south of France, militant wine producers struggling to survive have staged guerrilla actions over the past few decades to highlight their exasperation at low prices, unfair competition, foreign imports and what they see is as not enough government support. Their actions have included dynamiting agriculture ministry buildings, hijacking foreign wine-tankers, vandalising supermarkets, plastering graffiti on agricultural banks and pouring gallons of wine down the drain to express their plight. In a video sent anonymously to French TV in 2007, militants in balaclavas threatened violent action if the then-president, Nicolas Sarkozy, did not take measures to help economically desperate wine growers in Languedoc-Roussillon.
Bombing in Turkey wounds 6
ANKARA, Turkey – At least six people were wounded Tuesday by a bomb explosion in a neighborhood of Diyarbakir, a largely Kurdish city in southeast Turkey, police told media outlets. The head of Diyarbakir security forces, Recep Guven, said the device made from a gas cylinder exploded as someone was handling it, though the circumstances of the incident are still being investigated, according to the online edition of the daily Hurriyet.
As a result of the detonation, six people have been hospitalized including two girls, the daily said. Most of the victims were between 16 and 17 years old, and one of them lost a hand, the online news said, citing local witnesses. According to the daily Sabah, the bomb exploded as it was about to be launched at a passing police car, blowing off the suspected assailant’s hand.