Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Protests and riots rock the globe this week (link round-up 12/11/13)

Kiev protesters attacked by police, despite PM assurances
Thousands of riot police carried out a co-ordinated attack on barricades in Kiev during the dead of night on Wednesday – a determined and unexpected crackdown on protesters who have occupied the centre of Ukraine's capital for the past fortnight. 
As temperatures fell to -13C (9F) during the coldest night of the winter to date, columns of riot police closed in on Independence Square, hub of the protests that erupted after President Viktor Yanukovych pulled out of an association pact with the EU that had been due for signing at a summit in Vilnius last month. Shortly after 1am battalions of police approached the vast square from all sides and began to dismantle the makeshift barricades that have been erected in recent days. 
Ukraine's prime minister, Mykola Azarov, said later on Wednesday the operation by police was a question of clearing the roads. "No force will be applied against peaceful protesters. Do you understand this? Calm down!" he said as he opened a government meeting.
Thai protesters and government supporters continue to clash, paralyze country
The impasse is a reminder of the turmoil that has overshadowed Thailand for much of the last decade. On one side is Thaksin, a former telecommunications tycoon who redrew the political map by courting rural voters to win back-to-back elections in 2001 and 2005 and gain an unassailable mandate that he then used to advance the interests of major companies, including his own.  
On the other is the elite and establishment, threatened by his rise. Thaksin's opponents include unions and academics who saw him as a corrupt rights abuser, and the urban middle-class who resented, as they saw it, their taxes being used as his political war chest and regard his sister as a puppet.  
It is a confusing picture characterised variously as a class war, a rural-urban split, a clash between ancient and modern or a showdown between the royalists and republicans. 
Scottish writers take up the cause of national independence from Britain
“I’ve written this poem,” Bissett continued, glint of mischief in his eyes, “to try tae show you the error of your ways. It’s called Vote Britain.”

Bissett is one of a number of Scottish writers to have emerged as significant new voices of the independence movement. Their words, from a platform provided by the publishers Word Power Books, the National Collective arts movement and blogs like Bella Caledonia, spread like wildfire among activists.

Vote Britain, a fiery ironic poem sending up common Scottish stereotypes, went viral among Yes campaigners last year. In it, Bissett blasts the most pressing and painful issues of the campaign: the appropriation of Scotland’s oil money, the presence of the UK’s nuclear deterrent Trident in Scottish waters, Britain’s imperialist past, the overwhelming Englishness of Scotland’s landowning class.
Egypt arrests students in fiery clash
The ministry said that the critically injured student was in intensive care with a bullet wound to the chest after the clashes at Al-Azhar University on Monday.

Riot police fired tear gas at protesters at Al-Azhar University and a security official said several police cars were set on fire and petrol bombs thrown at officers in fresh clashes.

The students, supporters of ousted former president Mohamed Morsi, have held persistent protests since the start of the academic year in September.
Argentina hit by wave of looting and deaths amid police wage protests
Calm was restored after a late-night deal to double the starting police wage to 8,000 pesos ($1,300) a month and officers returned to patrolling the streets, Mr. Bacileff said during a news conference. "The situation was out of control…there was going to be a massacre."

President Cristina Kirchner railed against both the looters and police in a speech Tuesday to mark the 30th anniversary of the end of country's dictatorship and return to democracy. To "see people who have cars looting is shameful," she said. She also blasted the "extortion" from the police and accused unnamed political opponents of instigating the unrest.

The looting is shaping up as a major challenge for Mrs. Kirchner as the steep economic growth of the past decade fades and surging inflation makes it harder for the poor to make ends meet. Economists say Argentina's inflation tops 25%, even though the government says it is far lower.
 Singapore charges 24 Indian men after riot
The charges stemmed from violence Sunday night in Singapore's Little India district, a popular hangout for migrant workers. Nearly 400 South Asian workers skirmished with police and medical workers after an Indian national was crushed to death under a bus driven by a Singapore man, according to police reports and television footage. The 55-year-old bus driver was released on bail after being arrested on suspicion of causing death by a negligent act, police said. He hasn't been charged in court; it's unclear if he has legal representation.

As many as 39 law-enforcement and emergency-services personnel, as well as the driver and conductor aboard the bus involved in the accident, were injured. More than a dozen police, emergency-services and privately owned vehicles were damaged, including five that were burned.

The riot, Singapore's first since racial disturbances in 1969, is sparking public concern about the socioeconomic impact and sustainability of Singapore's dependence on overseas labor. Workers from South Asia dominate sectors like construction.

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