9 riotous Copperbelt University students arrested
POLICE in Kitwe have arrested nine Copperbelt University (CBU) students who were part of a group which ran riot and smashed vice-chancellor Naison Ngoma’s office windows in protest against the accommodation crisis. And CBU management has suspended five Copperbelt University Students’ Union (COBUSU) leaders for allegedly inciting students to stage a class boycott over the ban on squatting in hostels. Copperbelt commissioner of police Mary Tembo and CBU deputy vice-chancellor Shadreck Chama confirmed this in Kitwe yesterday and said the students were arrested on Tuesday night for rioting and smashing windows of the administration block.
“We have picked up nine students for riotous behaviour and they will pay admission of guilt fines before they are released,” Ms Tembo said. Briefing the press at CBU in Kitwe yesterday, Dr Chama said management is trying to negotiate for the release of the nine students. “We are still trying to establish the extent of the damage,”Dr Chama said. During the fracas, a third year environmental engineering student identified as George Nyambe fell from the third floor of a hostel and is admitted to Kitwe Central Hospital. “A student fell and he is in hospital… I went to see him and the X-ray indicates that he is okay although he has a painful back…he is under observation,” Dr Chama said.
He said another third year student in the school of business, Tinene Simbao, is admitted to Kitwe Central Hospital after suffering a bronchitis attack due to the tear gas canisters police fired to disperse the rioting students. Dr Chama also confirmed that the five COBUSU leaders have been suspended to pave way for investigations into allegations that they incited students to stage a class boycott.
The suspended students are COBUSU president Oscar Mbewe, council chairperson Kondwani Mumba, secretary- general Kingsley Chinyama, social and cultural secretary Niza Phiri and committee member Harrison Hampongo. Dr Chama said the student leaders have been asked to exculpate themselves within five days. He said calm has returned to CBU though police are still keeping vigil to quell any unrest. Dr Chama said management is engaging the students to convince them to resume classes. He also said CBU management is making progress under the Public Private Partnership (PPP) initiative to build more hostels at the institution.
Yerevan faces summer of protests over transport reforms
Shrugging off efforts to placate them, Armenian protesters against planned changes to Yerevan’s transport systems have kept up the pressure through July and early August. While the unrest in the Armenian capital is focused on a handful of specific issues, it highlights the growing lack of tolerance for corruption and a willingness by Armenians to challenge the authorities. The demonstrations continued for several weeks despite a pledge from the mayor of the Armenian capital, Taron Markarian, to back down on a controversial fare hike for public transport. That saw Markarian announce on August 6 that reintroducing the fare increase cannot be ruled out, though the city council will wait for the verdict of an ad hoc commission set up to consider the issue.
Markarian is also determined to push ahead with unpopular changes to the car parking system in the city. Fares on buses, minibuses and trolleybuses in the Armenian capital were due to increase from AMD100 ($0.24) to AMD150 from July 20. However, Markarian was forced to suspend the plans after six days of protests involving hundreds of activists – an echo of the protests in Brazil that were sparked by public transport fare increases. In addition to refusing to pay the extra AMD50, opponents also organised a high-profile “Free Car” campaign, in which politicians and celebrities offered lifts to Yerevan residents. A sit-in outside government offices was also started.
On August 1, police prevented protesters from putting up tents, claiming they needed an official permit to do so. This sparked clashes between police and activists, who are demanding the resignation of top transport officials within the Yerevan administration. In addition to the opposition to higher public transport fares, a storm is also brewing over planned reforms to car parking in the city. A private company, Parking City Service, has been selected to collect street-parking fees from motorists electronically. Like public transport users, drivers face a price increase, as they will now pay AMD100 per hour for parking, rather than a fixed fee of AMD100 however long they park.
Opponents of the scheme have criticised both the higher costs and the decision to allow Parking City Service to take 70% of fees paid, with just 30% going to the municipal budget. At a meeting on August 4, hundreds of activists backed plans for more protests and a mass boycott of the new system. The mayor now insists the new parking system will come into force on September 1, and has threatened a police crackdown on parking attendants who do not comply.
The price increases have been linked to a recent sharp increase in gas and electricity tariffs. Armenia’s Public Services Regulatory Committee (PSRC) approved the tariff increases after Gazprom said it would raise the price of gas by 18% starting in July. The large share of Armenian electricity generated at gas-fired power stations means electricity bills have also increased, triggering a rise in inflation. Murky links Activists accuse government officials and members of the city council of having links to transport operators set to profit from the changes.
On August 1, Markarian denied allegations in the local press that he owns minibus lines, saying the reports were “idle speculation”, but he appears to be caught between Yerevan residents who are fiercely opposed to the price increases, and the powerful owners of the city transport networks. The owners of Parking City Service are also rumoured to be close to President Serzh Sargsyan. Tolerance for corruption is falling in Armenia, with officials coming under increasing scrutiny from the population. This is partly due to the influence of neighbouring Georgia, one of Armenia’s main trading partners, where reforms introduced since the 2003 Rose Revolution have seen a dramatic fall in corruption.
As a result, Armenians are starting to demand similar steps at home. “Clearly this is indicative of an end to apathy,” says Richard Giragosian, director of the Regional Studies Center in Yerevan. He points out that many of those who have taken up the fight against the city authorities are first time protesters with no political affiliations. “The public transport price rise not only affected a broad cross-section of the population, it also had a disproportionate effect on the more vulnerable lower and lower middle class, making it much more of a socially explosive issue.”
Meanwhile, Armenian opposition parties have had relatively little involvement with the recent wave of protests in Yerevan, and have so far failed to catch up with the grassroots activism over social disparities of wealth and income – one of the pressing issues within Armenian society, according to Giragosian. A similar weakness was demonstrated after Armenia’s February 2013 elections. The most significant action by the opposition so far has been by the Barev Yerevan opposition bloc in the Yerevan city council – linked to former presidential candidate Raffi Hovannisian’s party – which on August 7 filed a lawsuit asking for directives signed by Markarian raising public transport prices to be declared illegal.
Inmate pleads guilty in deadly Miss. prison riot
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — An inmate suspected of participating in the fatal beating of a guard during a prison riot in Mississippi last year has pleaded guilty to rioting. Prosecutors say Marco Perez-Serrano, also known as Jesus Fernando Ochoa, was the first inmate to attack correction officer Catlin Carithers during the riot at the privately run Adams County Correctional Facility in Natchez on May 20, 2012. Carithers died and 20 people were injured as the riot grew to involve hundreds of inmates. Perez-Serrano pleaded guilty Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Natchez. He faces up to 10 years in prison at sentencing on Nov. 19. Several other inmates have been charged with participating in the riot.
Brazil: Clashes in Rio slum over death of youth
RIO DE JANEIRO — Police officers investigating the death of a teenager clashed with residents of a Rio de Janeiro slum, police said Wednesday as Brazilians staged a series of protests on issues ranging from alleged police brutality to low wages. Rio police said in a statement that three buses were burned and a police car damaged in Tuesday night’s clash in the sprawling Penha slum. Police were called in to investigate the death of a 17-year-old boy, whose body was found in the neighborhood.
“As the military police approached, a group of locals began a violent protest,” the statement said. The teen, whose name was not released, went missing Monday. His body showed no bullet wounds, and the cause of death was not immediately clear, police said. News reports suggested the protesters suspected the youth died in a confrontation with police. Police killings are not unusual in Rio, where officers are sometimes linked to armed militias.
A demonstration was called for Wednesday in another Rio slum, Rocinha, to call for light to be shed on the disappearance of a local bricklayer who was last seen in police custody. The protest came on the one-month anniversary of the disappearance of Amarildo de Souza, a 42-year-old father of six who was hauled into a Rocinha police station for questioning July 14. Police have said he was released shortly after, but video surveillance shows no trace of Souza after he entered the police station.
His family and supporters say they suspect he was killed by police and his body dumped in a clandestine graveyard. Souza’s disappearance has become a hot-button issue in Rio, particularly among slum dwellers and critics of Rio de Janeiro state Gov. Sergio Cabral. Cabral has been the target of protests since June, when a wave of mass demonstrations against government corruption and calling for improved public services swept Brazil.
Protesters allege Cabral is corrupt and want an investigation into spending on projects linked to next year’s World Cup and the 2016 Olympics, which Brazil is hosting. A demonstration was scheduled outside the Guanabara Palace later Wednesday. Several thousand mostly university professors also marched through central Rio on Wednesday demanding higher pay and better working conditions, while people calling for improved legislation for the disabled staged a protest in the capital, Brasilia. In Sao Paulo, Brazil’s biggest city, thousands of demonstrators protested against an alleged price-fixing cartel involved in the construction and upkeep of the subway and train systems of the cities of Sao Paulo and Brasilia.
12,000 clothing and textile workers strike over wages
Some 12,000 workers in Turkey’s clothing and textile manufacturing sector have gone on strike over wages. The strike covers around 30 major textile and clothing producers including Altinyildiz, Bahariye Mensucat, Vakko, Akin Tekstil, Kordsa, Karsu, Levi-Strauss, Isbir, Söktas, Orta Anadolu and Yünsa ve Saray Hali. Unions Teksif, Oz Iplik-Is and Tekstil, which represent textile, clothing and apparel workers, have taken the strike action due to the the “intransigent attitudes” of the employers’ organisation on wage and wage related matters.
“We began to negotiate with very good-will decent wages for our members, however because this process has been put by the employers in a way not leading to the solution, we have arrived at a point of end of the words,” Texif presidnet Nazmi Irgat told the IndustriAll Global Union. Average gross salary of Teksif members is reported to be around TRY1,165 (US603.1) per month, and 55% of workers in the sector earn the legal minimum wage (TRY978.60).
Libya says main oil facilities still crippled by protest
LONDON (Reuters) – Libya has restarted refined product exports from its largest refinery Ras Lanuf but most crude oil terminals including Es Sider, the biggest, remain blocked by protests with exports still running at less than half of normal flows. “The situation has not improved and we are going back to square one concerning Es Sider,” Libya’s deputy oil minister Omar Shakmak told Reuters on Thursday. The large Ras Lanuf crude oil export terminal was also still closed, various sources including a port employee said.
The north African country’s lifeblood oil industry has been stricken by striking port workers at its two largest ports for nearly three weeks, pushing output and exports to their lowest level since the civil war in 2011. Earlier this week, Shakmak said exports from the Es Sider oil terminal could resume on Thursday or Friday. But the situation has deteriorated again with no sign of an imminent restart. The status at other ports was unchanged, Shakmak said.
The strikes at the Es Sider and Ras Lanuf ports, with a combined capacity of nearly 600,000 barrels per day (bpd), was started by armed security guards demanding higher pay but the country seems at a loss with what to offer next. “Yesterday it was quite clear but today it was confirmed that negotiations have not succeeded. It not only a matter of money but I don’t know what it is,” Shakmak said. “(Es Sider) is still under negotiation, nobody is able to confirm any timetable,” a senior source at state firm National Oil Corp (NOC) said, dashing traders’ hopes of a resumption. “It is not a strike. It is a sort of hijacking. No legitimate demands are on the table.”
Protesting Berbers force their way into Libyan parliament
Members of Libya’s ethnic Berber minority forced their way into the parliament building in Tripoli on Tuesday, smashing windows and destroying furniture, in a demonstration to push for cultural rights, an assembly spokesman said. The protest occurred during a break in a regular session at the assembly, General National Congress spokesman Omar Hmaiden said. There were no immediate reports of casualties, but Hmaiden said furniture had been smashed and some documents belonging to assembly members were missing.
Assam faces fresh protests
Kokrajhar/Dhubri, Aug. 14: Assam is staring at another round of statehood agitation with the All Bodo Students Union and the All Koch Rajbongshi Students’ Union unveiling their protest plans today, alleging that chief minister Tarun Gogoi had failed to adhere to his promise on tripartite talks. The All Bodo Students Union (Absu) announced a mass gathering on August 20, an indefinite hunger strike on August 22, a 24-hour national highway blockade on August 28 and a 24-hour railway blockade on September 10 in support of its demand for a separate state for the Bodos. The All Koch Rajbongshi Students Union (AKRSU) said it would hold a 12-hour railway blockade on Friday, a 12-hour strike in all government and non-government offices on Saturday and a 12-hour road blockade on Sunday to press for a Kamtapur state.
Absu president Promode Boro told reporters at Bodofa House, the student union’s office in Kokrajhar, that Gogoi had failed to arrange for tripartite talks on or before August 13 as he had promised during their last meeting on August 7. “The entire effort of the chief minister and the Centre raises questions on the role of the Union and state government,” he added. The Biswajit Ray faction of AKRSU also said Gogoi had failed to meet the August 15 deadline for arranging talks with the Centre as agreed upon during a meeting on August 7.
Ray told reporters at the union’s headquarters in Bongaigaon that it had also been made clear during the meeting that if talks were not held by the deadline, the union would resume its agitation from August 16. The organisations announced their agitation plans today despite the Centre announcing yesterday that parleys would be held very soon, though it set no deadline for the talks. The Centre’s announcement came after Gogoi met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, acting home minister P. Chidambaram, and officials in the home ministry in the last few days and stressed the need to hold dialogues with state seekers.
When it was pointed out that the Centre had announced talks, both Boro and Ray said they had not received any communication from Gogoi so far. “We cannot wait for long, so we were compelled to announce our agitation today,” Ray told The Telegraph. He said if Gogoi formally communicates a date for the talks, they could temporarily call off the strikes and blockades. The Absu said it wants the Centre to resolve its demand for Bodoland or a separate state for the Bodos.
Boro said they do not want to launch a movement just for the sake of it or harass common people. But if they are denied their “fundamental rights”, they would continue their “democratic movement” for self-identity, self-determination and self-rule, necessary to protect and uplift the culture, tradition, political rights and social growth of the Bodos and other backward indigenous communities living in the proposed Bodoland.
He said the Absu has, for the past 25 years, been “democratically” demanding a separate state for the uplift of the indigenous communities living in the proposed Bodoland. But the UPA government had, for its political benefit, taken a “partial decision” while creating a new state (Telangana) by ignoring one of the oldest demands for a separate state. He said the Centre’s denial had compelled Absu after 12 years to call a total Assam bandh.
“Let the government solve our problem and we will lift our agitation,” he added. The Absu also criticised the A-Boro Suraksha Samiti for criticising the Bodo community. “If they have anything to say or demand, say it to the government. But they are working against the Bodos and other indigenous communities, which is a violation of human rights and atrocities against the tribal people,” Boro said. Former chairman of Dima Halam Daogah, Dilip Nunisa, warned that the government should not underestimate the people of “Dimaland” as the Dimasas would not hesitate to launch a violent agitation.
In a statement, Nunisa said the Centre’s “revision” of its “policy to create separate state” had given a moral boost to the “Dimasas and other communities demanding a separate state of Dimaland”. He said organisations fighting for Dimaraji should keep their gunpowder dry to fight for the creation of a state. He urged the Centre to invite these organisations for tripartite talks. He also appealed to the people to strengthen their peaceful democratic movement. “The chief minister was not in favour of further division of the state. But now the Assam government has no option other than resolve the issue,” Nunisa said. He thanked Gogoi for taking the initiative to arrange tripartite talks for the protesters. He, however, added that talks should not be held only with organisations resorting to violent protests.
Negev Prisoners to Protest Conditions
TEHRAN (FNA)- Palestinians held in Israeli jails in the Negev desert will refuse meals and visits to protest at prison conditions, the Palestinian Prisoners Society said. Prisoners are protesting the intrusive inspections their visitors are subjected to, night-time cell raids, and the transfer of a number of prisoners to solitary confinement, the society said in a statement on Wednesday, Ma’an reported. They are also protesting the withdrawal of canteen and visitation rights from some prison sections, the PPS added.
Learners trash school in protest against principal
The principal New Eisleben High school in Lower Crossroads had to flee from hundreds of pupils yesterday as they went on the rampage vandalising classrooms, throwing stones at teachers’ cars and destroying toilets and plumbing. The rampaging pupils said they wanted the principal, a Mr Mazimena, out of the school as they said he was abusive toward teachers and parents and had allegedly chased a number of pupils out of the school.
The school was only opened in October last year. ”We’re tired of the principal. He’s rude and does not respect our parents. He chased a number of students from school. He does not care about other teachers, we want him to leave’,’ said a pupil who asked not to be named. As the protest gained momentum during the morning, the protest turned into a riot. Stones were thrown at cars in the parking lot owned by teachers, shattering windows and denting the bodywork.
Stones were also thrown at a car owned by a press photographer and the radio stolen. It would appear the protest was hijacked by pupils who aimed to destroy property. Pupil Sanelisile Kroqo said the protest was planned on Tuesday. ”When we get to school in the morning some of the students went inside. A small group started a protest outside. They got inside, (and started) throwing stones to those who were inside. They broke the school gate… demanding us to go outside the school to protest” said Kroqo She said some former pupils who had been expelled from the school for being involved in teen gangs, joined in the protest. ”They vandalised the school, stealing school computers. They left everything upside down,” said Kroqo.