Bilbao demonstration over Economic Summit turns into riot with shops looted and mass vandalism
PROTESTS in Bilbao ahead of the national Economic Summit have turned violent and led to seven arrests after widespread damage was caused to shops, bank branches and bars in the city centre. Dozens of demonstrators, wearing balaclavas to avoid being identified, set fire to wheelie-bins and caused injuries to riot police who attempted to pin them down, emergency services claim. At least 50 protesters were ordered to show their ID, but only seven were taken into custody. Several police officers from the Ertzaintza – the Basque Country’s answer to the Guardia Civil – suffered cuts and bruises and one had to be taken to A&E after a stone was thrown at him.
The demonstration started at around 11.00hrs to protest over the Global Spain Forum 2014, and quickly got out of hand. Graffiti was sprayed over branches of high-street banks, including the BBK, Santander and Barclays, and a local Rénault dealership and the café of the Hotel de Villa suffered damage. A minority group of protesters threw stones and began to strike windows of chain stores such as Zara, Desigual, Mango and the Corte Inglés department store with iron bars and even manhole covers and bins they had ripped up. Some smashed windows and looted the premises, sabotaged the inside and scattered merchandise all over the floor in scenes which mirrored the UK riots of the summer of 2011. Vandalism to park benches and lamp posts was also reported, and firefighters were called out to deal with arson attacks on bins. Objects were thrown at the regional government office, which was also covered in graffiti, and stones were hurled at police cars.
Farmers risk stiff sentences for protesting land grabs
Since the beginning of 2014 over 149 farmers have been detained for protesting the return of grabbed land, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP). Many of the farmers have been charged with trespass as well as violating the notorious Section 18 of the Peaceful Assembly and Procession Law, which requires individuals to obtain a permit from local authorities allowing them to demonstrate. “The directives of the President are not in effect at the bottom level. The laws are not in effect at the bottom level. This is not a good sign,” said Bo Kyi of the AAPP. The Parliamentary Land Investigation Commission released a report at the end of February uncovering 745 cases of land seizure. According to the report, more than 500,000 acres of land has been grabbed by the army, local government authorities and private companies.
Gogoi faces ire of tea garden workers
JORHAT: Chief minister Tarun Gogoi faced public ire at Dipling tea estate, in Kakotibari police limits of Sivasagar district, when he attended a public meeting there on Monday. Hundreds of irate tea garden workers shouted slogans against the Assam government’s failure to provide them with basic amenities. Police tried to control the situation, but in vain. The angry workers, under the leadership of Sadou Asom Caah Janajati Suraksha Samiti, organized a protest meet at Dipling playground to condemn the government’s “apathy” towards them. Police resorted to lathi charge to control the mob and at least 15 persons, including three women, were injured. Two women police personnel also suffered injuries. Sivasagar SP Bijoy Giri Kuligam said that a few minutes after the CM addressed the public meeting, some workers staged a protest. “We resorted to lathi charge to control the mob,” he said.
Police clash with Kokstad land invaders
FARMERS in Kokstad, in southern KwaZulu-Natal, are worried about their land after a recent spate of land invasions and protests in the area. On Monday, Kokstad local municipality officials, police and private security guards demolished dozens of shacks built by land invaders on private land near Bongweni Township. The shack dwellers tried to protest but were dispersed by police and security guards. Last month hundreds of people partitioned land on another side of the small town. Last week scores of people — who call themselves Kokstad Landless People — protested outside Ohlange Cash and Carry supermarket until Saturday, claiming its owners had bought land set aside for houses.
The farms around Kokstad play a crucial role in the economy of the town and the latest land invasion has created fear in the farming community. A farmer, who asked not to be named, said a recent meeting had resolved to increase security in the farming areas. “Yesterday they invaded municipal land. Who knows what they will do next. We cannot leave anything to chance.”