Posted on

Rochester mayor calls for calm as protests against Daniel Prude’s death grow more contentious

The mayor and police chief say outside agitators have been arrested.

Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren and the city’s police chief La’Ron Singletary called for calm Sunday as the city geared up for another night of protests following the death of Daniel Prude.

Warren’s pleas came after authorities said outside agitators have plotted to damage the city and after police used pepper spray and tear gas to disperse a crowd of over 1,200 people Saturday night.

Warren stood by Singletary and the police department and commended them for their restraint during the last couple of nights of protest. Singletary added that officers have arrested suspects from out of state and cited intelligence from social media that some of the alleged agitators planned to damage the city’s public safety building during the protests.

“People from outside of the city like Alaska and Massachusetts have been arrested,” Singletary said at the news conference.

PHOTO: Daniel Prude is arrested by Rochester Police on March 23 in bodycam video footage released on Sept. 2, 2020.

Daniel Prude is arrested by Rochester Police on March 23 in bodycam video footage released on Sept. 2, 2020.

Daniel Prude is arrested by Rochester Police on March 23 in bodycam video footage released on Sept. 2, 2020.

The protests stem from last week’s release of body camera footage showing the March 23 incident involving Rochester police officers and Prude, 41. Prude’s brother Joe called 911 to get help, saying Daniel was having a mental health emergency.

In the video, which was first reported by the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, officers approach Prude, who is naked, and Prude initially complies with the officers’ orders. Prude is subsequently seen shouting and spitting, which prompts officers to place a spit bag over his head.

The officers are seen pinning Prude to the ground while the bag is still on his head, and he eventually goes lifeless. Prude died in the hospital a week later.

Seven Rochester officers have been suspended with pay as New York State Attorney General Letitia James’s office investigates the incident, which is part of New York state’s protocol anytime someone dies in police custody. On Saturday, James announced she would empanel a grand jury to investigate Prude’s death.

Protests that have taken place in the city since the news broke have become contentious between those involved and the police. Officers say they’ve been struck by bottles and rocks and have had to use pepper spray, tear gas and other weapons to disperse crowds during the demonstrations, including the one on Saturday night.

About 1,500 people marched downtown Saturday and some allegedly set off fireworks, according to the Rochester Police Department. Three officers were treated for injuries related to the fireworks and nine people were arrested, according to the police.

Warren said she is coming up with a plan that would allow protesters to assemble while at the same time protecting people from injuries and damage to buildings. She called on the city’s elders to meet at a church Sunday evening to work to keep the demonstrations as peaceful as possible.

“Our elders will stand as the buffer between the protesters and our police department,” she said.

At the same time, Warren acknowledged that the department and city should have done more to protect Prude.

“We have to own the fact that in that moment, we did not do that,” she said.

The mayor revealed that she first saw the body camera footage last month but could not take any direct action because of the investigation by the attorney general. She defended Singletary and his actions thus far in the investigation, saying that he’s done everything by the book and has not impeded or covered up the case.

“I wholeheartedly believe RPD Chief Singletary can lead us through this time,” she said.

In the meantime, Warren and Singletary said the city is already working to change the way the city responds to mental health emergency calls. The city will double the availability of mental health professionals and the police will review its measures in place for handling such emergencies, according to the mayor and chief.

“Certain calls shouldn’t be handled by police,” Singletary said.

Source link

Posted on

On Gil Scott-Heron and Global Protests

The recent global Black Lives Matter protests have prompted IR scholars and others to revisit the work of Malcolm X and the poetry of Gil Scott-Heron. In one of his prison letters, Malcolm X wrote that he became “a real bug for poetry. When you think back over all of our past lives, only poetry could best fit into the vast emptiness created by men.” Later in his life, Malcolm X sought to internationalize the plight of African Americans. For example, at the Organization of African Unity in 1964, he exhorted the African diplomats and others that “We, in America, are your long lost brothers and sisters, and I am here to remind you that our problems are your problems.” Malcolm X looked to internationalize the sensibilities of the attendees by saying of African Americans: “We stand defenseless at the mercy of American racists who murder us at will for no reason other than we are black and of African descent.” Before his assassination, Malcolm X pushed for centers for black artistic expression as part of a means to connect black people throughout the globe. After his death, “this energy coalesced into the Black Arts Movement.” In this movement, poetry and other forms of art were critical to speaking truth to power and working toward justice for the dispossessed and disenfranchised—domestically and globally.

Gil Scott-Heron is perhaps one of the most famous artists influenced by this movement. In this essay, we briefly outline why we have turned to Gil Scott-Heron’s poetry in the classroom. His poetry, inspired by Malcolm X, is particularly relevant to this moment as we witness the momentum of Black Lives Matter protests happening in all 50 states and all over the world from Belgium to Brisbane. Thousands marched in Paris. From Kentucky to Canada, from Fresno to Frankfurt thousands are looking at the police brutality visited upon African Americans and seeing similarities to how state-sponsored police forces act against people of color and poor people in their own milieu. Chinese, Russian, and Iranian diplomats are focusing attention, however fleeting and for their own purposes, on the treatment of African Americans. In the classroom, whom might we listen to and how might we speak about these global protests? Gil Scott-Heron, we think, helps us confront the complexities of this moment.

Throughout this year, we have been co-teaching a “Poetry and Politics” seminar. One of the poems that we have been teaching together is Scott-Heron’s “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.” The poem is helpful in thinking about this global moment of Black Lives Matter for several reasons.

First, it helps us think critically about the media’s focus on looting rather than structural sources of protests and riots (“There will be no pictures of you and Willie Mae pushing that shopping cart down the block on the dead run / Or trying to slide that color TV into a stolen ambulance”). As we witnessed in recent weeks, the media tends to zoom in on certain newsworthy effects (e.g. fires, looting, and property damage) of structural racism rather than structural racism itself. The Revolution tells us that “there will be no pictures of pigs shooting down brothers on the instant replay.” The Revolution prompts a discussion about the reasons for the disparaging term for police, and, more importantly, pushes us to reflect on the many black men (and women) killed not only by law enforcement officers but by law enforcement structures—portrayed in certain media reports as though these killings are a sport replete with “instant replay.”

Second, Scott-Heron offers a poetic window into divisions within black movements, reminding us of how these movements are never monolithic and often have different objectives (or means of achieving them). For example, The Revolution involves a biting critique of civil rights leaders Roy Wilkins and Whitney Young. During the heady days of the orthodox civil rights movement, the grassroots activities were led by the “Big Six.” Amongst the Big Six were longtime labor organizer A. Philip Randolph, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., James Farmer, and a young John Lewis. Scott-Heron turns his pen towards the last two of the “Big Six:” Whitney Young and Roy Wilkins of the National Urban League and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, respectively.

Scott-Heron’s pen grows teeth when he writes “there will be no pictures of Whitney Young being run out of Harlem on a rail with a brand new process. There will be no slow motion or still lifes of Roy Wilkins strolling through Watts in a red, black and green liberation jumpsuit that he has been saving for just the proper occasion.” Why does Scott-Heron use his pen to bite two of the most respected leaders of the civil rights movement? While Young and Wilkins were symbols of articulate moral leadership and effective advocacy in black communities, Scott-Heron muses about Young in a process (straightened hair) and Wilkins in a Bendera flag jumpsuit. Young and Wilkins were always seen in a dark fitted suit with a white shirt, a thin dark tie, and close-cropped natural hair. Putting them in a process and a multi-colored jumpsuit is arguably worse than putting them in a red nose with big floppy shoes piled up in a Volkswagen bug.

Why this imagery? Here, we see Scott-Heron launching two critiques. First, he is voicing a common criticism that Young and Wilkins were too close to white philanthropy to provide effective street-based leadership for black communities. Second, Scott-Heron is identifying both Young and Wilkins as outside the revolution, as irrelevant to the revolution and likely even as counter-revolutionaries that should be scorned by politicized black communities.

Using Young and Wilkins as stand-ins to criticize the “establishment” leadership of the “Big Six,” Scott-Heron turns his lens on the social and class divisions in black communities and finds a key fissure between middle-class blacks and the identity of the communities that birthed them. For students unaware of these kinds of divisions, Scott-Heron could prompt conversations about how and why they emerge, and also what they mean for bringing about both domestic and global change.

Third, Scott-Heron is pressing us to consider how black struggles can be domesticated or commercialized. As the world watches the protests and “instant replays” of George Floyd’s murder, we might ask what it means that “the revolution will not be televised?” The world finally seems to be watching. But what are we watching? Who is watching and what do we see (and fail to see)? Scott-Heron tells us that “the revolution will not go better with Coke.” How might revolution be domesticated by calls for cosmetic improvements without deeper systemic change? How might revolution be commercialized and co-opted? The Revolution leaves us searching—pragmatically and imaginatively—for difficult answers to so many pressing questions.

Considering The Revolution in the context of Black Lives Matter also reminds us of the deep connections between black political struggles in the United States and global struggles discussed within the annals of black political thought. W. E. B. DuBois held the first of the historic Pan African Conferences in 1919 locating the plight of African Americans within the overall anti-colonial struggle. The clergyman and diplomat Alexander Crummell wrote about internationalizing the anti-racist/anti-fascist struggle of African Americans in 1861 in his letter, The Relations and Duties of Free Colored Men in America to Africa. And as early as 1852, the veritable “Father of Pan Africanism” Martin Delany published The Condition, Elevation, Emigration, and Destiny of the Colored People of the United States, where he says the facts of American oppression of African Americans are plain and the goal is to “proclaim in tones more eloquently than thunder” that this treatment requires an international reaction.

The Black Lives Matter movement, emerging from black struggles in the streets of the United States, has become a global response to systemic racism. The death of Adama Traoré outside of Paris is seen as connected to the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Chants in Paris include the phrase, “Justice pour Adama, Justice pour George Floyd, Justice pour Tous!” How do we respond to this moment in the classroom? A turn to poets like Gil Scott-Heron, we believe, is one productive way to reflect on this juncture. His poems distilled wordplay, irony, anger, intellect, and lament into some of the most illuminating poems and songs ever produced in the world. While his work contends with the sociopolitical brutalities of racism, it also signals toward the possibilities (and impossibilities) of change—in the world and within ourselves. As we read his poetry with students in the context of Black Lives Matter, change in the world (we hope) becomes more possible.

Guided by the spirits of Malcolm X and Gil Scott-Heron, we are searching, together. What will we find? What will we create? How might poems of the past and present inform and inspire the change we are working toward?

More from E-International Relations

Source link

Posted on

Black Lives Matter protests: Atlanta shooting of Rayshard Brooks declared homicide – live | US news

Hollywood actor Ron Perlman has challenged the Texas Republican senator Ted Cruz to a wrestling match, offering to donate $50,000 to Black Lives Matter to mark the occasion.

Perlman, the star of Hellboy, The Name of the Rose, Sons of Anarchy and other hits, made the offer early on Monday morning, as part of what started as an unlikely online spat with the Republican Florida congressman Matt Gaetz.

Perlman and Gaetz were arguing about US Soccer’s George Floyd-protest-inspired decision to repeal a rule requiring its teams to stand for the national anthem, which earned Gaetz’s ire and subsequently that of Donald Trump.

Told by Gaetz to “leave the tough guy comments for those of us who face the voters”, Perlman tweeted a picture of the Ohio congressman Jim Jordan, a former wrestling coach, and said: “You’re lucky for this guy Matt. If it weren’t for him you’d be the ugliest politician walking.”

Perlman’s jibe at Jordan prompted Cruz to wade in, writing: “Listen Hellboy. You talk good game when you’ve got Hollywood makeup and stuntmen. But I’ll bet $10k – to the nonpolitical charity of your choice – that you couldn’t last five minutes in the wrestling ring with Jim Jordan without getting pinned. You up for it? Or does your publicist say too risky?”

Perlman replied by suggesting he and Cruz fight instead, saying he would “give 50k to Black Lives Matter and you can keep all the taxpayer money you were thinking of spending.”

Today so far

Brooks’ family holds press conference

The six to three verdict is the biggest victory for LGBTQ+ rights since the court upheld marriage equality in 2015.

“Today, we must decide whether an employer can fire someone simply for being homosexual or transgender. The answer is clear. An employer who fires an individual for being homosexual or transgender fires that person for traits or actions it would not have questioned in members of a different sex. Sex plays a necessary and undisguisable role in the decision, exactly what Title VII forbids,” justice Neil Gorsuch wrote.

The three cases the court heard, Altitude Express Inc v Zarda, Bostock v Clayton county, and R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes v. EEOC concerned whether or not a federal ban on sex discrimination forbids employment discrimination against LGBTQ+ workers.

The Harris Funeral Homes case centered on Aimee Stephens, a trans woman fired after her boss claimed it would violate “God’s commands” if he allowed her “to deny [her] sex while acting as a representative of [the] organization.”

Donald Zarda and Gerald Bostock, both gay men, alleged they were fired from their jobs because of their sexual orientation.

Supreme Court rules civil rights law protects LGBT workers


Supreme Court rejects 10 gun rights cases


Source link

Posted on

World Protests Show Rising Outrage and Mounting Discontent — Global Issues

  • Opinion by Isabel Ortiz, Sara Burke, Hernan Cortes Saenz (new york and brussels)
  • Wednesday, June 10, 2020
  • Inter Press Service

In the last weeks, we have seen protests against racism and police brutality explode in the US and internationally after another black man died in police custody. We see Chileans protesting lockdown-food shortages, scarcity of work, and costly social services, and Ecuadorans demonstrating against IMF-supported austerity cuts. Lebanon has convulsed with riots over corruption, lack of jobs and public services. Protesters in Hong Kong continue to defy China’s tightening grip. In Israel they denounce West Bank annexation, while in the Philippines they condemn President Duterte’s Anti-Terrorism Act as a breach of civil rights and the Constitution. Young people are taking to the streets in Senegal over the lockdown and lack of jobs and opportunities. In Spain we see health workers demanding safer working conditions while workers from other industries face massive layoffs. In many countries, people protest in car-based caravans to maintain social distancing because of the pandemic.

There have been periods in history when large numbers of people rebelled against the status quo and demanded change, such as in 1848, 1917 and 1968. While protests have intensified in recent weeks because of the pandemic, the level of protests worldwide has remained high for more than a decade, with some of the largest protests in world history. They were set off by the 2008 financial crisis and commodity price spikes, such as those that sparked food riots in Africa and Asia, three years before the “Arab Spring”, the “Indignados” (Outraged) in Spain or “Occupy” in the US and Hong Kong. More recently, we have seen massive protests in Latin America and a global feminist wave set off by the “Me Too” movement. Now, as Covid-19 makes its way around the world, we are experiencing the continuation of this period of rising outrage and discontent.

We have been studying recent world protests and found interesting lessons. To start, the number of protests has been increasing on a yearly basis. Protesters’ main general demand was for economic and social justice in the face of prescribed “austerity” reforms; however, the overwhelming grievance of protesters, regardless of the political system of their country, was the lack of “real democracy”. Other common demands relate to people’s rights such as racial, gender or labor rights. The main target of the protests was national governments, but global institutions and corporations were also targeted.

A profile of demonstrators reveals that not only traditional protesters (eg. activists, unions) are demonstrating; on the contrary, middle classes, youth, older persons and other social groups are actively protesting in most countries because of lack of trust and disillusionment with the current political and economic system.

People around the world are acutely aware that policy-making has not prioritized them. Across the political spectrum, there is rebellion against politics as usual. Governments both authoritarian and democratic are failing to respond to the needs of ordinary people. Many demonstrations and marches also explicitly denounce the international system and institutions such as the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the European Central Bank, which have been widely perceived as the chief architects of inequitable reforms.

Not only is the number of protests increasing, but also the number of protestors. Crowd estimates suggest that dozens of rallies had more than one million protesters; some of those may well be the largest protests in history (eg. 100 million in India in 2013, 17 million in Egypt during the Arab Spring).

Repression is well documented in over half of the protests in our study. According to media reports, the protests that generated the most arrests were in Iran, the UK, Russia, Chile, Malaysia, US and Cameroon (different years). Our research, that we continue updating, also documents a rising concern with some modes of repression that do not imply the use of physical violence: citizen surveillance.

If there is repression, what are the controversial demands that protesters are putting forward? The grievances demanded cross over virtually every area of public policy, from jobs, public services and social protection to the environment, finance, taxation, corruption and justice. The majority of the demands are in full accordance with United Nations proposals and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Governments need to listen to the demands from citizens legitimately protesting the denial of social, economic and civil rights. Leaders and policymakers will only invite further unrest if they fail to prioritize and act on the demand for real democracy.

Isabel Ortiz is Director of the Global Social Justice Program at the Initiative for Policy Dialogue, Columbia University, and former director of the International Labour Organization (ILO) and UNICEF.

Sara Burke is Senior Policy Analyst at Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES; for identification purposes only; views do not reflect the institutional views of FES).

Hernan Cortes Saenz is PhD in International Relations.

© Inter Press Service (2020) — All Rights ReservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service

Where next?

Latest News Headlines

Read the latest news stories:

  • World Protests Show Rising Outrage and Mounting Discontent Wednesday, June 10, 2020
  • The Sahel – ‘in Every Sense of the Word a Crisis’ Wednesday, June 10, 2020
  • ‘Universal Challenges’ Expose Layers of Inequalities Wednesday, June 10, 2020
  • Eliminating Age Discrimination from Lockdown Curfews Wednesday, June 10, 2020
  • The Need, Within the UN, for an Honest Conversation on Racism Wednesday, June 10, 2020
  • Global Solidarity & Effective Cooperation in the Face of COVID-19 Tuesday, June 09, 2020
  • UN Chiefs Silenced by Big Powers with Vetoes Tuesday, June 09, 2020
  • Economic Ghosts Block Post-Lockdown Recovery Tuesday, June 09, 2020
  • We Need to Slow down and Reconnect with Our Ocean for the Future of the Planet Monday, June 08, 2020
  • 2nd World Food Safety Day Monday, June 08, 2020

Source link

Posted on

Coronavirus live updates: Bolsonaro hides Brazil death figures; minister criticises Australian BLM protests | World news

The exodus of migrant workers from big cities is plunging India’s factories into a crisis, Agence France-Presse reports.

An acute shortage of workers has turned the roar of machines to a soft hum at a footwear factory near New Delhi, just one of thousands in India struggling to restart after migrant workers decided to leave town during the virus lockdown.

India is slowly emerging from strict containment measures that were imposed in late March as leaders look to revive the battered economy, but manufacturers don’t have enough workers to man the machinery.

The big cities, once an attractive destination for workers from poor, rural regions, have been hit by reverse migration as millions of labourers flee back to their home villages, some uncertain if they will ever return.

Sanjeev Kharbanda, a senior executive with Aqualite Industries, which owns the footwear factory in the northern state of Haryana, said: “Sixty per cent of our labourers have gone back. How can we run a production unit with just one-third of our workforce?”

A worker is waiting for products to arrive on a production line at the Aqualite footwear factory in Bahadurgarh in the northern Indian state of Haryana.

A worker is waiting for products to arrive on a production line at the Aqualite footwear factory in Bahadurgarh in the northern Indian state of Haryana. Photograph: Money Sharma/AFP/Getty Images

Kharbanda said the company’s sports shoe unit had been sitting idle as there were no skilled workers to operate the high-tech machines.

“We are running just one shift now. The cost of production has gone up and our profits are going down,” he said, a conveyor belt carrying semi-finished flip-flops running slowly in the background.

In Gujarat state’s Surat city – where 90% of the world’s diamonds are cut and polished – many factories have been unable to open after more than two-thirds of workers fled, Surat diamond association president Babu Kathiriya told AFP.

Meanwhile, the state’s salt refineries have started doubling salaries to lure staff back. But experts say the workers may not return anytime soon.

There are an estimated 100 million migrant workers – nearly a fifth of the labour force and contributing to an estimated 10% of GDP – across the nation of 1.3 billion people.

Many are employed as cheap labour across a vast range of sectors including textiles, construction, mines and small businesses.

Source link

Posted on

Pompeo Cancels Ukraine Trip Amid Protests at Embassy in Iraq

WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday canceled a weeklong trip to Ukraine and four other nations to stay in Washington and monitor tensions in Iraq after protesters broke into the United States Embassy compound in Baghdad and wrecked parts of it, the State Department said.

The department’s spokeswoman, Morgan Ortagus, said in a statement that Mr. Pompeo aimed to “ensure the safety and security of Americans in the Middle East” by staying in Washington and would travel in the “near future” to the countries he had been scheduled to visit.

The Iraqi protesters, who were mostly members of Iranian-backed militias, broke into the embassy compound on Tuesday and set some outbuildings on fire. The attackers trapped diplomats and other embassy employees inside larger buildings, but the ambassador, Matthew Tueller, was outside the country on leave. The protests on Wednesday were calmer, and no demonstrators breached the gates. Protesters dispersed in the afternoon, and there were no reports of injuries.

Former State Department officials and associates of Mr. Pompeo say he has been keen to ensure that American diplomats are not harmed under his watch, especially because as a congressman, he was among the most scathing critics of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s handling of a militant group’s attack on an American compound in Benghazi, Libya. The 2012 assault resulted in the deaths of four Americans, including Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens.

In May, during a period of heightened tensions with Iran, Mr. Pompeo ordered a withdrawal of most employees at the Baghdad Embassy and the Erbil Consulate, and last September he ordered the closing of the Basra Consulate.

The assault Tuesday in Baghdad by protesters, some of whom chanted “Death to America,” evoked both Benghazi and a siege in 1979 of the American Embassy by student demonstrators in Tehran, Iran, where 52 diplomats and support personnel were held hostage for 444 days.

Some of the protesters in Baghdad were members of an Iranian-backed militia targeted by the American military with airstrikes after commanders determined the militia was responsible for a rocket attack that killed an American security contractor. At least two dozen people died in five strikes in Iraq and Syria. (The militia has denied responsibility for the rocket attack.)

Mr. Pompeo had planned to meet with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine on Friday. That would have been the first meeting between a member of President Trump’s cabinet and Mr. Zelensky since the impeachment inquiry of Mr. Trump began in late September.

The Democratic-led House impeached Mr. Trump on Dec. 18 along a largely party-line vote, accusing him of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress after hearings revealed how Mr. Trump withheld $391 million of military aid to Ukraine while pressuring Mr. Zelensky for political favors. A reconstructed transcript of a July 25 call between Mr. Trump and Mr. Zelensky was a key piece of evidence.

The State Department on Monday announced Mr. Pompeo’s trip, which also had stops planned in Belarus, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Cyprus. The department had said Mr. Pompeo intended to “reaffirm U.S. support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity” on his trip, a reference to the yearslong war that Ukraine is fighting against a Russian-backed insurgency in the east.

The Ukraine trip this week had been scheduled after Mr. Pompeo canceled plans for a visit there in November. That journey, and a possible meeting with Mr. Zelensky, would have taken place in the middle of the impeachment testimony in the House.

The two cancellations could add to suspicions among Ukrainian officials that Mr. Trump has little regard for Ukraine while holding warm feelings for Russia and President Vladimir V. Putin. Mr. Zelensky still wants a White House meeting, despite the furor over impeachment and Mr. Trump’s actions on Ukraine. And Ukrainian officials were frustrated by an Oval Office meeting on Dec. 10 between Mr. Trump and Sergey V. Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister.

Mr. Pompeo had made plans to avoid interacting this week with William B. Taylor Jr., the departing chief of mission in Kyiv. Mr. Taylor was a prominent witness in the House impeachment hearings. The ouster last spring of his predecessor, Ambassador Marie L. Yovanovitch, was a signal moment in a shadow American foreign policy in Ukraine run by Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani.

Last April, Mr. Pompeo ordered the recall of Ms. Yovanovitch after speaking with Mr. Giuliani. Ms. Yovanovitch was a champion of anti-corruption efforts, and Mr. Giuliani and associates with ties to Ukrainian businessmen had pressed for her ouster.

Source link

Posted on

Records Show How Police Closed The City’s Subway During Pro-Democracy Protests

Anthony Wallace / Getty Images

A train carriage after it was vandalised at the University MTR station.

HONG KONG — Hong Kong’s police force requested that the city shutter subway stations or halt train service on at least ten occasions that coincided with major pro-democracy protests, records obtained by BuzzFeed News show.

Clean, efficient and quick, the Mass Transit Railway, or the MTR has long been the pride of Hong Kong. But in recent months, subway signs have been scribbled over with spray paint and facilities have been smashed or burned on protest days as anger has increased toward the company.

A string of early closures in October sparked accusations that the MTR was being used to create a de facto citywide curfew without legally passing one. MTR employees previously told BuzzFeed News that they did not see technical reasons for the early shutdowns and believed that they were being used to curtail attendance at protests. Police have also used the stations as areas to detain protesters in recent months, and have fired pepper spray into several stations as the demonstrations escalated.

The MTR Corp. is a publicly-traded company that counts the Hong Kong government as its majority shareholder. Under its operating agreement with the government, the MTR corporation is required to make “adequate” accommodations for the Hong Kong Police Force as well as submit a report to the government any time there is a delay or emergency shutdown. (It’s also subject to fines for major delays to incentivize better service.)

Mohd Rasfan / Getty Images

A family looks at a charred and shuttered exit to the Admiralty MTR station on October 6.

In early October, BuzzFeed News requested a copy of all reports submitted to the government for any emergency closures or delays between June, when the protests began, and the first day of October, which saw widespread protests that coincided with the National Day of China. The transportation department did not provide the complete reports but did provide a summary of all of the reports, which BuzzFeed News is publishing in full.

Hong Kong lawmakers have also questioned the station closures. In a November response, the secretary of transportation released a list of dates when the subway was closed, but did not specify that many of the closures came at the request of the police.

One of Hong Kong protesters’ five demands is an independent inquiry into police violence as the accusations have mounted over six months of demonstrations. On Wednesday, an international panel of experts that was advising the police on a probe quit, citing criticisms that the police had no real independent watchdog capability.

The subway first became a major flashpoint on July 21, when a mob of men dressed in white stormed an MTR station in the Northern Territories region of Hong Kong and beat passengers and protesters indiscriminately with rods. The MTR called the police for assistance and they closed the station. Some details about the incident were disclosed by the MTR.

Nicolas Asfouri / Getty Images

A gate to Mong Kok train station is closed on October 8.

But records show that police began requesting station closures way back in June. Mass protests in Hong Kong started on June 9 when about 1 million people marched in the streets against a planned extradition bill that has since been scrapped. The MTR reported no delays or closures to the government that day.

Three days later, as protesters tried to push through the Legislative Council building where the bill was being debated, chaos broke out. It was the first time the police used tear gas against protesters. Around 8:30 p.m., police requested the nearest MTR station to the government building to be shuttered. Early the next morning, before 6 a.m. police continued to request that the MTR keep the station shut after protests had subsided.

On June 16, an estimated 2 million residents marched through the streets, but the police made no requests for any station closures. On July 1 police once more made a request to shut down stations on Hong Kong Island — this time just after 7 a.m., hours before a peaceful march proceeded through the city. That night, however, protesters would storm the Legislative Council building and police would eventually fire tear gas after they dispersed.

Police additionally requested service changes in August and September. The records conclude on October 1, when the city was embroiled in protests over China’s National Day. A young man was shot by police that evening.

On October 5, following renewed protests for a ban on face masks, the city shut down the entire subway system for the first time in the MTR’s history.

Source link

Posted on

World Human Rights Day: Chileans mark day with protests | News

Antofagasta, Chile – The military loaded people onto boats and some were never seen again. It happened 46 years ago, but it is something Carlos Martinez will never forget.

“Everyone saw what was happening,” he told Al Jazeera.

A food vendor in his 60s, Martinez now lives in Antofagasta, in northern Chile. But in 1973, he lived 1,360km (845 miles) south in Valparaiso. General Augusto Pinochet seized power in a military coup that year, and the dictatorship appropriated boats in the Valparaiso harbour to use as detention and torture centre for political prisoners.

“People from all over were tortured,” said Martinez. “Others were weighted and dumped into the sea.”


Thousands of Chileans were executed, forcibly disappeared, tortured and imprisoned for political reasons during the 17-year dictatorship. Martinez sees echoes of the past in current President Sebastian Pinera.

“He continues the repressive stance of the dictatorship,” he said.

Chile Human Rights

Relatives of people detained and forcibly disappeared during the 1973-1990 dictatorship protest every week for truth and justice [Sandra Cuffe/Al Jazeera] 

Pinochet died at age 91 under house arrest 13 years ago on December 10, International Human Rights Day. The day commemorates the United Nations adoption in 1948 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, but many Chileans are marking the day this year not with celebrations but with protests.

Demonstrations against structural inequality are in their eighth week in Chile, and crackdowns by security forces continue to draw criticism.

Pinera gave a speech for Human Rights Day, saying “over the past 52 days, we have been made aware of many cases and reports of human rights abuses, and each and every one hurts us.”

Secondary student protests in October sparked nationwide protests for systemic change, and political and economic measures announced by the government have so far failed to quell the movement. Following an initial nine-day state of emergency that entailed military deployment, police have continued to crack down on daily protest actions around the country.

Pinera faces allegations of rights abuses

At least 24 people have been killed during the crisis, including five by military and police forces.

The National Human Rights Institute, an autonomous state body, has documented 192 cases of sexual violence by authorities and 405 cases of torture or other cruel treatment. The institute has also visited 3,449 people hospitalised for injuries, including 352 eye injuries, most of them caused by projectiles fired by police.

In his speech Tuesday, Pinera recognised the hard work in recent weeks by the 10-year-old National Human Rights Institute. It has facilitated greater awareness and increased capacity to identify and if necessary also punish all human rights violations, he said.

“Chile has a beautiful, noble and recognised tradition with regard to the protection of human rights,” said Pinera, pledging commitment to truth, justice, and assistance for victims.

But Pinera himself could face consequences for alleged human rights violations during the continuing crisis. Legislators this week are deliberating constitutional accusations against the president and Andres Chadwick, Minister of the Interior and Security at the outset of the crisis.

Chile human rights

At a march in Antofagasta in northern Chile, a protester carries a sign that reads: ‘Bullets will not silence us. Chile woke up’ [Sandra Cuffe/Al Jazeera] 

The Senate is scheduled to vote on Wednesday on the accusation against Chadwick, after it passed a vote by legislators of the lower house of Chile’s bicameral congress. Chadwick was removed in a cabinet shuffle, but would be barred from holding any public office for five years if the Senate votes against him.

On Thursday, legislators from the lower house will debate and potentially vote on the constitutional accusation against Pinera. In the unlikely event the accusation were to pass both in the Chamber of Deputies and Senate, Pinera would be immediately removed from office and barred from holding any other for five years.

International human rights NGOs Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch both published reports last month condemning police and military repression of protests. The government strongly repudiated allegations of intentional harm and indiscriminate attacks.

A team from the Office of the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights spent three weeks in Chile last month, documenting the situation. Their report is almost set to be released, high commissioner Michelle Bachelet said Monday. Bachelet served two nonconsecutive terms as president of Chile, both times followed by Pinera.

“We are the United Nations. We are not an NGO. It is just about to be presented to the government of Chile so that it can be known by everyone,” she said when confronted about the report by Chileans attending the COP25 climate conference in Madrid.

Chile human rights

A demonstrator holds false eyes during a protest against Chile’s government, in Santiago, Chile [Pablo Sanhueza/Reuters] 

International human rights bodies have left the country, but alleged human rights violations continue. In a presentation to the Senate human rights commission Monday, the National Doctors Association of Chile reported multiple cases of severe burns from unknown chemical agents added by police to water cannon used on protesters.

In spite of the abuses, protests continue. Martinez supports them, and he is far from alone. More than two-thirds of Chileans think protests should continue, according to a recent poll by a trusted marketing and polling company.

“The new generations have woken up,” said Martinez. “The atomic bomb of youth has been exposed.”

Source link

Posted on

Iraq protests: 12 demonstrators killed in Baghdad

As thousands of anti-government demonstrators rallied in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square — the epicenter of the protest movement — the gunmen seized a nearby parking garage that is used by activists.

The gunmen have not yet been identified.

Hundreds of members of pro-government militias have descended on Tahrir Square in a show of force over recent days, raising fears over further unrest, several activists told CNN.

During his weekly Friday sermon, Iraq’s top Shiite cleric warned against meddling, saying that the country’s new premier must be chosen “without any foreign interference.” The clock is ticking for lawmakers to replace Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi, who announced his resignation last week, calling on Iraq’s government to “preserve the blood of its people” and “avoid slipping into a cycle of violence, chaos and devastation.”

News of Abdul Mahdi’s departure was greeted in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square with fireworks.

Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani has previously condemned the killing of unarmed protesters, as well as the government’s failure to handle the demonstrations, sparked over endemic corruption, high unemployment, inadequate public services and Iran’s interference in the country. Protesters blame Iran for being complicit in the Iraqi government’s failures, and now its crackdown.

Al-Sistani’s remarks came on the same day that the United States imposed sanctions on four Iraqis, including “three leaders of Iran-backed militias” over corruption and human rights abuses. According to a statement released by the Treasury Department, the militias were behind the killing of dozens of peaceful protesters.
Demonstrators rally in Baghdad's Tahrir Square.

“Iraqis have played a step and bloody price” because of the Iranian regime’s involvement in the country, assistant secretary of state David Schenker said.

US announces sanctions on leaders of Iran-backed militias in Iraq for protestor killings

Schenker noted that Qassem Suleimani, leader of Iran’s elite Quds Force, has recently been in Iraq in part “to determine the next political leader of Iraq.”

“It is not normal,” Schenker said. “This is unorthodox … a huge violation of Iraqi sovereignty.”

Some 432 people have been killed since anti-goverment demonstrations began in Iraq on October 1, according to a source with the Independent High Commission for Human Rights of Iraq. Another 19,136 people have been injured in the demonstrations, the Commission has said.

Activists are calling for the government to step down and hold early elections under direct supervision of the United Nations, in response to the deadly crackdown.

CNN’s Nicole Gaouette and Kylie Atwood contributed to this report.

Source link

Posted on

Chile football season called off early amid protests

A Chilean player kicking a footballImage copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

Football is Chile’s most popular sport (file photo)

The football federation in Chile has announced it is to cancel the rest of the season due to security concerns following weeks of anti-government protests.

All matches were suspended when the violence began six weeks ago.

The six remaining fixtures have all been cancelled and no teams will be relegated or promoted.

Universidad Católica, who were leading the championship by 13 points, have been declared the champions.

Their opponents have agreed to abandon the rest of the season and give Universidad Católica a 14th league title.

The World Rally Championship motor race Rally Chile has also been cancelled due to the unrest.

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionChile protests continue into second month

It was scheduled to take place in April, the month in which the government has agreed to hold a referendum on a change to the country’s constitution.

What are the protests about?

The protests were triggered by an announcement that public transport fares would rise in the capital, Santiago.

Demonstrations quickly spread across the country and grew into a general revolt against inequality, the high price of health care and poor funding for education.

Harsh repression by the security forces further stoked the anger of those protesting as did the response by President Sebastián Piñera, who declared a state of emergency and said the country was “at war”.

At least 26 people have been killed and hundreds injured in the unrest.

Two weeks ago, President Piñera agreed to a referendum asking Chileans whether they want to introduce changes to the constitution.

The current constitution came into force in 1980 when the country was still under military rule.

Source link