Five soldiers injured as clashes erupt during protests against security posts in Diyarbakır, Bingöl
Five soldiers were injured in clashes between gendarmerie officers and demonstrators protesting against the construction of a security post in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır on June 4. Tensions in the province’s sensitive Lice district have been ongoing since last week, with three other soldiers injured during clashes May 31. Gendarmerie also raided a similar protest in the neighboring province of Bingöl. Protesters, including alleged members of the Patriotic Revolutionary Youth Movement (YDG-H), a youth organization linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), blocked the road connecting Diyarbakır to the eastern city of Bingöl on June 4 by digging ditches of between two and five meters.
The gendarmerie launched a raid early in the morning, resorting to tear gas and water cannons as demonstrators responded by hurling fireworks and stun grenades, Doğan news agency reported. The five injured soldiers were transferred to a hospital. Construction workers were rushed to the area to close the ditches. A similar crackdown was also conducted against demonstrators who have been occupying the road between Bingöl’s Karlıova district and Varto in the neighboring province of Muş for two days to protest the construction of another security post. Around 1,000 protesters including locals from the Kargapazarı village and YDG-H members have also been protesting the building of a dam in the region. Meanwhile, unknown people have marked the doors of three specialist sergeants’ houses in Diyarbakır’s Bağlar neigborhood, where the soldiers have been living with their families.
District Gov. Berkan Sönmezay said a probe had been launched into the incident, while the houses were evacuated. The main Kurdish party, the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), has repeatedly voiced its opposition to the construction of new gendarmerie posts across Turkey. A young demonstrator, Medeni Yıldırım, was killed by a soldier during a protest against the construction of a similar gendarmerie post in Diyarbakır’s Lice district last year during the nationwide Gezi protests. Yıldırım has been immortalized as one of the eight youths to fall during the Gezi crackdown.
Attack on PASOK HQ reveals police officers being placed at serious risk
When members of the urban guerrilla group Revolutionary Struggle fired Kalashnikov assault rifles at a riot police squad on duty outside the Ministry of Culture on Bouboulinas Street, central Athens, in the early hours of January 5, 2009, the officers thought they were being attacked with petrol bombs by self-styled anarchists from nearby Exarchia. “We put on our helmets, picked up our shields and ran out of the riot van. It was only when we saw [fellow officer] Diamantis Matzounis bleeding on the ground that we realized what was going on and ran for cover,” one of the officers on duty that night, who wished to remain unnamed, told Kathimerini recently.
The confusion was echoed in the early hours of Sunday, May 25, when gunmen opened fire on the headquarters of the PASOK party on Harilaou Trikoupi Street, also in Exarchia. “We heard the noise and thought it was firecrackers. That’s what we reported to headquarters. No one realized that it was gunfire from a Kalashnikov,” another officer who serves with the riot police said. Police unionists claim that riot officers are equipped and trained to deal with raids against potential targets like the PASOK offices, which are quite a common occurrence in parts of central Athens, but not with an attack using high-powered weapons, as was the case on May 25.
They also reveal that on the same night anti-fascist rapper Pavlos Fyssas was stabbed to death last September in the Piraeus suburb of Keratsini by a self-confessed member of ultranationalist party Golden Dawn, a squad of riot police was attacked in central Athens as it was leaving the PASOK headquarters post. According to the sources, unknown assailants poured gasoline onto the road at the corner of Harilaou Trikoupi and Arachovis streets and set it alight with Molotov cocktails after trapping the riot van full of officers over the spot by pushing metal garbage cans in front of and behind the vehicle. Numerous memos regarding this and similar incidents have been sent to regional and national police headquarters, while the issue has been the subject of meetings between representatives of the riot police and the chief of security at PASOK’s offices.
In one memo to the directorate responsible for the riot police, the Union of Police Employees stressed the need for measures to be taken so that officers’ safety is not endangered when they are on regular guard duty. Sources told Kathimerini that the PASOK offices are guarded by a regular squad, as well as an additional 25 officers who have been transferred to that particular security detail. During the May 25 attack, an additional four security police officers were on duty there, though they failed to notice that anything was amiss at the time of the shooting. The attack took place at 5.30 a.m., just an hour-and-a-half before Greek election centers opened for the polls, though police headquarters and the counterterrorism unit were not informed of the incident until 1 p.m., seven-plus hours later.
The gunmen also succeeded in getting close to PASOK’s offices from Mavromichali Street and fleeing the scene after firing two shots without being noticed even though a study was recently carried out stressing the security gaps in and around the building. According to a high-ranking Greek police official, the security plan for the PASOK offices foresees a regular foot patrol by plain-clothes policemen and surveillance of the building from the adjacent rooftops. These measures have not been implemented, however, because officers fear for their safety as attacks on police, particularly in Exarchia, are so frequent. It is worth noting that the May 25 attack on PASOK’s headquarters was carried out from a parking lot on Mavromichali Street and that the officers on duty in front of the offices do not have a view of this spot.
Bolivian transport strike causes chaos
A transport workers’ strike protesting against the local government’s plans to regulate public transport has caused chaos in the Bolivian city of El Alto. The demonstrators, who are also demanding higher wages, blocked a main avenue in the city on Tuesday. Riot police arrived on the scene and fired tear gas in a bid to disperse the protesters. Local media reported 58 drivers were arrested for damaging passing vehicles who would not support the protesters.
Some of the arrested drivers were led away with blood on their faces. Police managed to clear the roads after protesters set fire to tyres in the middle of the road. Local media reported that 1,200 police officers guarded the highways that lead to the city’s main airports. A leader of a drivers’ union in El Alto, Marcos Tito Cabrera, said drivers had charged the same ticket rate for the past few decades. The protesters – who run a network of privately owned minibuses – said the strike would continue indefinitely if the local authorities did not back down on their plans to modernise public transport systems
Four Police Officers Die in Guerrilla Attack in Colombia
BOGOTA – Four police officers were killed and another wounded on Tuesday in an attack by leftist ELN guerrillas in the northeastern province of Arauca, Colombia’s Defense Ministry said. The rebels used explosives to attack the vehicle in which five police were riding as they drove through the town of Saravena, one of the fiefdoms of the National Liberation Army (ELN). The police had received a “fake (telephone) tip” and upon arriving at the site mentioned by the tipster were ambushed by the rebels, who detonated the explosives, wounding the officers and then killing four of them execution style,” Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon said in an appearance in Congress. The dead officers were identified as Cpl. Libardo Fabio Chachon Delgado and patrolmen Jose Dario Acuña Suarez, Yan Carlos Alviz Armenta and Alejandro David Maestre Alvarez.