Security forces prepare for World Cup in a restive Brazil
RIO DE JANEIRO — Drones, bomb-detecting robots, camera glasses, rubber bullets and sound and light grenades will all be at the ready if Brazilian police need them to quell disturbances during the FIFA World Cup. The Brazilian military also has a contingency plan in case President Dilma Rousseff calls it to the streets. But the military’s main role will be to secure stadiums, the skies, the waters and public utilities, and guard against any terrorist threats during the June 12 through July 13 event.
The possibility of massive street protests — a contingency that was scarcely part of initial World Cup security planning — is now front and center after some 1 million Brazilians demonstrated in June during the FIFA Confederations Cup, considered a dress rehearsal for the world’s premier soccer event. Violence in Brazil’s shantytowns, or favelas, also is a possibility during the Copa as security forces continue an effort to take back the streets from criminal gangs in neighborhoods where emotions are already on edge. For the World Cup, 150,000 police and members of the armed forces will be involved and another 20,000 people trained in event security, according to Andrei Rodrigues of Brazil’s Ministry of Justice.
Emotional, violent protests a year after Bangladesh disaster
Dhaka: Thousands of Bangladeshis held emotional and violent protests on the one-year anniversary of the world’s worst garment factory disaster, as Western retailers faced pressure to hike aid for victims of the accident that cost 1,138 lives. Angry victims, some wearing funeral shrouds, staged demonstrations at the site of the now-infamous Rana Plaza factory complex, which collapsed last April 24 after a catastrophic structural failure.
Chanting “We want compensation!” and “Death to Sohel Rana!”, the owner of the shoddy building, the demonstrators — who included injured survivors and families of the deceased — marched to the ruins of the nine-storey building outside Dhaka carrying flowers and wreaths. Relatives of the 140 workers still unaccounted for also joined in, calling on the government to help find their bodies. They included toddlers, holding photos of their missing mothers.
“I want my daughter’s dead body. At least it would give us some consolation,” said crying mother Minu Begum, clutching a photo of her missing daughter Sumi Begum, who worked at one of Rana Plaza’s five factories. For the first time since the disaster, when the site was sealed off, relatives of the dead and survivors were allowed inside. Some fell to the ground, sobbing and grabbing handfuls of dirt, while others prayed.
Violent protests broke out in the capital where police fired tear gas at some 2,000 brick-throwing demonstrators demanding higher wages and compensation outside a small garment factory hub, police said. “More than 20 garment factories were forced to shut down for the day fearing unrest,” local police chief Moshiur Rahman said.
China Labor Group Says Activists Detained in Shoe Factory Strike
Chinese authorities detained a pair of labor activists who are advising striking workers at a shoe manufacturer for brands including Nike Inc. (NKE:US) and Adidas AG (ADS), China Labor Watch said. The two activists, Zhang Zhiru and Lin Dong, entered a factory belonging to Yue Yuen Industrial Holdings Ltd. (551) in Dongguan to help workers after a strike began April 14, China Labor Watch said on its website.
Zhang’s wife Xiao Hongxia said the last time she reached her husband was midday April 22, when Zhang told her he had met with security officials. “I called my husband at noon yesterday, asking if he would be coming home to eat,” Xiao said in an interview on April 23. “He said he was in Dongguan and already having his meal. I haven’t heard from him since.”
200 Administrative Detainees Start Hunger Strike
The Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) has reported that 200 detainees, held by Israel under arbitrary Administrative Detention orders, without charges or trial, started an open-ended hunger strike protesting their continued illegitimate imprisonment.
Frustrated Egyptian workers pose a grave challenge to new president
MAHALLAH, Egypt — Egypt’s next president will have to contend with frustrated workers who have threatened a new wave of nationwide strikes if their demands are not met by an already cash-strapped government. Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, the ex-army chief who overthrew Islamist president Mohamed Morsi last July and is hailed by supporters as a tough leader who can restore stability, is widely expected to win next month’s election.
But he is likely to face strident demands from the same labor leaders who organized a massive 2008 strike seen as a precursor to the 2011 uprising that ended Hosni Mubarak’s three-decade rule. And with tourism and investment having largely dried up following three years of turmoil, it’s unclear whether the government can meet their demands. Labor activist Kamal Fayoumi says he struggles to make ends meet despite having worked at a textile factory for 30 years, and he and other labor leaders insist the promise of the 2011 uprising — “bread, freedom, social justice” — has yet to be fulfilled. “All governments over the past three years, including Morsi’s, have only made promises, but never delivered,” Fayoumi told AFP at a roadside cafe in Egypt’s textile hub of Mahallah, 115 km north of Cairo.
In the years since Mubarak’s overthrow in 2011, workers have staged persistent strikes across the country, only halting them in February under a temporary truce with military-installed authorities. The strikes had taken place in key sectors, including textiles, steel, cement, public transport, ports and postal services, further compounding the country’s economic woes.