50 arrested after Burkina Faso student protests
Students in the capital of Burkina Faso have set more than a dozen cars ablaze after negotiations with university officials failed. Police superintendent Patrice Yeye said Friday that two officers were seriously wounded in the unrest on campuses in Ouagadougou this week. The violence began after university officials told the students to vacate their dormitories at the end of July and they refused. Yeye says nearly 50 people now have been arrested in connection with the violent demonstrations. The West African nation of Burkina Faso has been rocked by protests in recent weeks. In 2011 Burkina Faso saw uprisings for months after the death of a student in police custody.
Sri Lanka steps up security as protest toll rises
Police poured into a village near Sri Lanka’s capital ahead of the funeral Sunday of a teenager shot dead by troops during a protest against contaminated water, residents said. Security in Weliweriya village was strengthened as a hospital official said a third person had died after succumbing to injuries sustained during the army’s crackdown on the residents’ protest on Thursday.
“We have another three people in the intensive care and their condition is serious,” spokeswoman for the hospital in Colombo, Pushpa Soysa, told AFP. Police said 17-year-old Akila Dinesh Jayawardena was killed when troops fired at unarmed residents demonstrating against a factory which they accused of discharging chemical waste and polluting ground water. Jayawardena was buried Sunday evening amid tight security by police commandos who were seen near the village cemetery too.
Mourners returning from the burial stopped briefly at the village centre to shout slogans denouncing the authorities and pressing their demand for safe drinking water. They dispersed peacefully, witnesses said. Roman Catholic priest Lakpriya Nonis said armed troops stormed his St. Anthony’s church shortly after Thursday’s protest and assaulted men, women and children who had sought refuge there. “They came into the church premises and assaulted people sheltering inside,” the priest told reporters after Sunday’s burial. Official sources said nearly 50 people were injured with most of them suffering bullet wounds while some had been beaten with sticks and rifle butts.
The privately-run Sunday Times said up to six people had been killed and that authorities were not revealing the total number of casualties. The burials of the other two victims are yet to be decided, locals said. The second victim died of his injuries overnight on Friday. “There are a lot of police at the funeral as well as in the neighbourhood,” a resident of Weliweriya village, who requested anonymity, told AFP by telephone.
Military spokesman Brigadier Ruwan Wanigasooriya said the army withdrew from the area late Saturday. Residents may be mistaking police Special Task Force Commandos dressed in camouflaged uniforms as troops, he added. “We don’t have any presence in the area now. We have launched an investigation into the incident,” Wanigasooriya said, while declining to say what disciplinary action would be taken. Criticism by the opposition and rights groups of the army’s use of force has mounted since the shootings. Private television networks have broadcast footage of troops opening fire at unarmed residents.
Tension in Abuja district as soldiers clash with Okada men over “torture”
There was palpable tension in Nyanya/Karu Abuja, after some soldiers guarding St. Mary’s Catholic Church allegedly tortured an Okada rider leading to protest by some commercial riders. Witnesses say shots were fired during a brief confrontation between soldiers and scores of protesting Okada men, but there was no immediate reports of fatalities. A resident of Nyanya, who gave his name as Adamu told PREMIUM TIMES that trouble began after a commercial motor cyclist, who conveyed a lady to the church, parked in front of the Church where parking is prohibited.
The man was reportedly asked by the soldiers guarding the church to move away from the area. “I don’t know if the man refused, because the next thing was a soldier beating him mercilessly and forcing him to drink water from the gutter,” Adamu said. He also said the Okada riders in the area subsequently mobilized themselves and came to the area to protest because the Okada rider is a Muslim who was fasting and was forced to break his fast. He also said the Okada riders who mobilized were very many in number and there were shootings. “There was more gunshots and some of them were caught by bullets. More soldiers came to the place and everywhere is calm now,” he added.
Four injured and 7 cars damaged as workers attack a shipyard company
Four people were wounded, while seven cars were damaged when dozens of workers at the PT USDA Seroja Jaya Shipyard, owned by Wilmar Group, in Batam, Riau Islands, attacked the company’s office and looted its assets on Saturday.
The clash is believed to have been triggered by the workers disagreement over the company’s new policy. Herbert Marbun, a worker, said it started when the company established a Discipline Committee to manage the workers’ working hours, meal and transport budget. He said that the committee had issued a new policy, which was deemed to have scrapped the workers’ rights. The workers, he said, only get a meal budget of Rp 5,500 (50 US cents) per day, while other workers in other similar companies take home at least Rp 8,000 daily. As for the transport budget, the workers get Rp 6,000 per day, while they have demanded to get Rp 10,000 per day.
The workers, Herbert went on, were also angry because they had often reported theft cases to the management, but they received no response. “The workers came to the office, but the members of the Discipline Committee were hiding. This had sparked the workers’ anger and they later attacked the office and damaged the cars parked there,” said Herbert. “The clash only took place for around 30 minutes. No one stopped the workers. I myself was just watching the incident. I could not forbid my fellow workers to not launch the attack,” he added. A guard at the PT USDA Seroja Jaya Shipyard, Alexander, said that dozens of the company’s staffers were running for their lives when the incident occurred.
“A staffer member at the safety division, named Irens, sustained a head injury after being hit by a worker with a helmet,” said Alexander. Three other victims suffered injuries from broken glass. All the four victims were later taken to the Santa Elizabeth hospital for further treatment. All workers at the company chose to go home after the incident took place, while the staffers were back to the office to clean up the mess. An employee at the purchasing division, Panti, said that the incident was mainly caused by the workers’ complaint on the theft of their working tools
“The workers filed a report to a security guard, but they did not receive good response [from the guard]. “The guard was reportedly impolite. The workers were angry and launched the attack with their fellow workers. As for the issue with the Discipline Committee, well, it’s not a big thing,” said Panti. Another purchasing staff, Trini Susanawati, said she was hiding in another room when the incident took place.