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Posts Tagged ‘Protest’

Then They Fight You

Posted by Admin on October 28, 2011

http://www.truth-out.org/then-they-fight-you/1319744739

Friday 28 October 2011
 

#OccupyOakland protesters after their camp was destroyed by Oakland police along with ten neighboring police departments.  Several hundred protesters regrouped at the intersection of 14th and Broadway where police tried dispersing the crowd with tear gas, flash bang rounds, rubber bullets and bean bag shots. (Photo: ekai)

The national standoff between authorities and protesters in the ‘Occupy Wall Street‘ movement has reached a new and dangerous level of tension and violence.

At first glance, it looked like something out of Pink Floyd’s film ‘The Wall': menacing images ofcreatures in gas masksswarming toward the camera under a dark and forbidding sky. This was no dystopian fantasy, however; these were members of the Oakland police departmentcharging into a group of protesters behind a wall of tear gas, flash-bang bombs, rubber bullets and bean-bag projectiles. The police bull-rushed these unarmed protesters with the intention to do violence, and violence is exactly what they did.

As of this writing, one woman is known to have been seriously injured when a flash-bang grenade went off right by her head. She was seen being carried away unconscious from the scene of the police riot by other protesters. Anther known injured protester has a name, and a face, and a record of service to his country. Scott Olsen, a Marine veteran of two Iraq tours, was participating in the Occupy Oakland protest when he was shot in the head by a ‘less-than-lethal’ police projectile, suffered a fractured skull, and was taken to the hospital in critical condition. He has since been upgraded to fair.

Welcome home, Marine. Thank you for your service to your country, but since you dared to exercise your First Amendment right to peaceable assembly, here’s a cracked head for your trouble. And you thought Iraq was dangerous.

According to Oakland officials, the justification for this eight-hour-long explosion of force was that the area being occupied by protesters had become unsanitary, and that people were being raped within the camp zone. This was news to those who had been peacefully occupying the space in front of Oakland’s city hall. It sounded suspiciously familiar to some last-decade claims about weapons of mass destruction being justification for a different burst of violence, and smells just as bad. The extreme nature of this police action might have had more to do with the fact that the protester’s camp was unofficially named Oscar Grant Plaza, after the unarmed citizen who was murdered in 2009 by Oakland transit police, an incident that was caught on camera and broadcast to the world. Maybe the Oakland police did not like the reminder, and so swung their truncheons with an excess of vigor.

This is not the first example of excessive violence being directed at protesters in the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ movement. A number of incidents directed at unarmed, non-resisting protesters in New York City have been documented in detail, and in one case, an official inquiry into one NYPD officer’s use of pepper spray is ongoing. The scene that played out in Oakland could very well have taken place several days ago in New York, had Mayor Bloomberg not made the wise, last-minute decision to back down from his demand that Liberty Park be cleared of protesters so it could be “cleaned.” A number of protesters were injured by police in San Francisco and Denver, as well.

What happened in Oakland in the hours between Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, however, is a definite escalation of tensions between protesters and authorities, and seems to indicate those authorities are edging closer and closer towards unleashing the dogs of war on people who offer no violence and pose no threat to anyone other than the financial power-brokers who have so thoroughly ravaged this country’s future.

It goes without saying that not every person participating in these national actions are docile lambs; every movement, no matter its political denomination, is going to have its share of idiots and adrenaline-junkies. Within the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ movement, however, these types of people make up so small a fraction of the main as to be negligible…but they do offer authorities a nice excuse to bulldoze the whole movement, and it makes you wonder how many of these so-called agitators are running around causing trouble with a badge in their back pocket. Beyond agitators, there is the simple fact that not everyone is going to react like Gandhi when they get gassed, pepper-sprayed, flash-bombed, clubbed and shot with projectiles for peacefully assembling to point out a grievous wrong.

‘Occupy Wall Street’ is about saying “No.”

“No” to institutionalized greed of such vast width and breadth that it plunders our country even as it smiles around a mouthful of filet mignon.

“No” to the ocean of corporate cash that drowns our democracy.

“No” to rewarding the failure of frauds who proudly carry the banner of capitalism even as they enjoy the galloping socialism of the government bailout.

“No” to those who refuse to hire new employees because they want to screw over the economy and remove a president they don’t like. But it is also about so much else.

The ‘Occupy’ movement is as diverse and multifaceted as the cities and towns where it has been happening. More often than not, local issues are at the forefront of the protester’s concerns; Wall Street is local for New York City, but in Oakland, the protest has been geared more toward halting austerity measures and the closures of schools and libraries…and, yes, police violence. Yet even as every ‘Occupy’ community has its own set of priorities, it is all part of a single continuum, as the issues being protested all stem from the same core concerns that crashed the economy, and created the movement, in the first place.

‘Occupy Wall Street’ is not about getting into a public crunch with cops over whether or not tents should be allowed in a public park. Rather than react with violence to people who are sacrificing themselves to point out what has gone so terribly wrong with the America we all love, these authorities should take a step back and encompass the awesome fact that such a movement has become so very necessary in the first place.

They should remember that violence is the last refuge of the desperate, that violence directed towards these protests will only make them stronger, and will put a big, bloody underscore beneath their efforts. Every punch thrown by a police officer, every protester clubbed or gassed or bombed or shot down with a riot-control projectile, only proves the point of that protester, and invigorates the entire movement.

They should remember that this is the year 2011, and every single person gathered at these protests has a phone with a camera that will make any unnecessary or egregious act of official violence an instant media sensation. These authorities are not working in the dark, not by a long chalk. One protester with a steady hand will make an over-the-top cop famous in all the wrong ways in exactly as much time it takes to read this sentence. Enough footage like that, and matters will escalate quickly indeed. The whole world is, in fact, watching.

Every police officer dealing with these ‘Occupy’ protests is not a frothing mad dog, and more than every ‘Occupy’ protester is a brick-throwing terrorist. Police in Albany recently refused an order to clear out a group of ‘Occupy’ protesters, a decision that was roundly praised. But if the Battle of Oakland shows us anything, it is how quickly this can get out of hand. The protesters are not going anywhere, and if they are met with violence on the order of what took place Tuesday night, there is no telling where we will find ourselves in the end.

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Mikhail Gorbachev Says Occupy Wall Street Signals an Emerging New World Order

Posted by Admin on October 28, 2011

http://vigilantcitizen.com/latestnews/mikhail-gorbachev-says-occupy-wall-street-signals-an-emerging-new-world-order/

By  | October 22nd, 2011 | Category: Latest News | 154 comments

As the Occupy Wall Street movement continues, some unlikely faces appear supporting the movement and some even more unlikely scenarios are presented as “solutions”.  While most protesters call for the return of grass-roots democracy and the stop of the unlawful rule of international banks, you have figures working for the exact opposite – a big, fat, socialist world government – supporting the movement. George Soros and Mikhail Gorbachev, two of the world’s most vocal elite globalists, have indeed been working for years for a New World Order and everything it implies.

Is OWS trapping people in Hegelian dialectic, where supporting the protesters becomes supporting a New World Order? Here’s what Gorbachev said during on October 20th at Lafayette College.

“We are reaping the consequences of a strategy that is not conducive to cooperation and partnership, to living in a new global situation. The world needs goals that will bring people together. Some people in the United States were pushing the idea of creating a global American empire, and that was a mistake from the start. Other people in America are now giving thought to the future of their country. The big banks, the big corporations, are still paying the same big bonuses to their bosses. Was there ever a crisis for them? . . . I believe America needs its own perestroika. The entire world situation did not develop properly. We saw deterioration where there should have been positive movement.

My friend the late Pope John Paul II said it best. He said, ‘We need a new world order, one that is more stable, more humane, and more just.’ Others, including myself, have spoken about a new world order, but we are still facing the problem of building such a world order…problems of the environment, of backwardness and poverty, food shortages…all because we do not have a system of global governance. We cannot leave things as they were before, when we are seeing that these protests are moving to even new countries, that almost all countries are now witnessing such protests, that the people want change. As we are addressing these challenges, these problems raised by these protest movements, we will gradually find our way towards a new world order.”
– Lafayette College website

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Netanyahu faces Israeli parliament over protests

Posted by Admin on August 16, 2011

http://news.yahoo.com/netanyahu-faces-israeli-parliament-over-protests-230255945.html

By Allyn Fisher-Ilan | Reuters – 10 hrs ago

Israeli activists take part in a protest calling for social justice, including lower property prices in Israel, at the southern city of Be'er Sheva

Israeli activists take part in a protest calling for social justice, including lower property prices in Israel, at the southern city of Be'er Sheva August 13, 2011. REUTERS/Amir Cohen

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, under fire for his government’s handling of a month-long surge of protests against high living costs, faces a special debate in parliament on Tuesday.

Parliament has been recalled from its summer recess to consider the crisis, for once focused on social and economic issues rather than Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians or its Arab neighbors.

A motion introduced by the centrist Kadima party, one of four on the assembly’s charged agenda, targets “government imperviousness” and “foot-dragging” by Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition in addressing demands to cut taxes and housing prices.

Netanyahu has named a team of experts to look into possible reforms but he and financial officials have cautioned against any expansion of the state budget, wary of signs the economy is weakening due partly to a spreading global financial crisis.

“We are experiencing great turbulence,” Netanyahu told a parliamentary finance panel on Monday, adding: “We want to deal with both these problems — to relieve the cost of living and reduce gaps.” He also promised “substantial changes.”

Efforts by Netanyahu’s government to address protesters’ grievances seemed further complicated on Monday when an alternative panel of university professors stepped forward pledging to help protesters meet their goals. [nL6E7JD08N]

The Israeli protests, a rare sustained outburst of anger over domestic policies, have drawn hundreds of thousands to the streets since mid-July, when dozens first camped out on a Tel Aviv boulevard to complain of soaring rents, supermarket prices and taxes.

Soon a so-called middle-class revolt gathered momentum and spread to other cities, spawning several mass rallies.

More than 70,000 protesters thronged the centers of a dozen towns and cities across Israel on Saturday. Upwards of 250,000 demonstrated in the business capital of Tel Aviv last week.

Analysts say the unrest seems to pose no immediate political threat to Netanyahu’s two-and-a-half-year-old government.

But some officials say the controversy could inflame tensions in his coalition and result in national elections being held ahead of a scheduled 2013.

The parliamentary debate on petitions filed by four opposition parties will be an opportunity to air differences, but Netanyahu appears likely to win any votes held.

(Editing by Alistair Lyon)

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Nonviolent Revolution Clarified: Five Myths and Realities Behind Egypt’s Uprising

Posted by Admin on July 10, 2011

http://www.truth-out.org/nonviolent-revolution-clarified-five-myths-and-realities-behind-egypts-uprising/1310067482

by: Dr. Cynthia Boaz, Truthout | News Analysis
 

An Egyptian flag flies as thousands of protesters attend a mass demonstration in Tahrir Square, the focal point of the Egyptian uprising, in Cairo on July 8, 2011. (Photo: Moises Saman / The New York Times)

The fall of the regimes in Tunisia and Egypt has produced prolific analysis by media commentators across the spectrum. Some of this analysis has been excellent, but much of the conventional media interpretation of the why, how and what behind these events leaves much to be desired. There are a handful of misconceptions that have been parroted repeatedly in media coverage of the “Arab Spring.” These are important to recognize because the dynamics of how power is shifted matters enormously. In Gandhian language, means and ends are inseparable. That which is won through violence must be sustained through violence. That which is won through mass civil nonviolent action is more legitimate and more likely to be sustainable over the long term.

Additionally, how we understand and interpret the source of the power that emerged in Tunisia and Egypt last spring can go on to shape our long-term views about what is possible. If we consciously or unconsciously reinforce misconceptions or negative stereotypes about nonviolent action, we potentially undermine the morale of people engaged in ongoing struggles and, in the worst-case scenario, we can give credibility to the perspectives of the oppressors. What follows are the five most prevalent ways in which mainstream media has gotten the story wrong on the Egyptian uprising and the corresponding correction to each.

Misconception 1: It was spontaneous. Reality:  Although commentators still tend to talk about the Egyptian revolution as though no one could have predicted it, the key variable in the victory was planning. As we saw during the height of Mubarak‘s crackdown, the movement was able to keep the people of Egypt unified and, for the most part, nonviolently disciplined. Considering the lengths to which the regime went to try and provoke violence, it was quite remarkable how focused, creative and disciplined the activists remained. None of that would have been possible without several years of laying the groundwork. Egyptian activists worked for years to identify and neutralize the sources of power in the nation of 83 million. Their effort extended to making personal connections with the military forces and the commanders in particular. It’s a nuanced divide-and-conquer strategy. After building relationships with members of the regime’s pillars of support, the movement then helped them question the legitimacy of the ruler and the system they were upholding. When media analysts talk about an uprising like the one in Egypt as spontaneous, they are revealing their lack of understanding of the dynamics of nonviolent action and, simultaneously, are taking credit away from activists, who in many cases, have worked hard for years – often at great personal risk and sacrifice – to make this kind of victory possible. Regimes like Mubarak’s don’t fall when people just spontaneously show up in the city square. They only fall when movements are capable of exerting sustained pressure on them over a length of time. And that for that to happen, there must be unity, strategy, vision and, most importantly, planning, planning and more planning.

Misconception 2: It was a military coup. Reality: It was a people-power revolution. This misconception stems partly from the fact that, at the end of the day, much hinged on whose side the military took in the struggle. But instead of giving the people credit for winning the military to their side through effective campaigning and salient messaging, many media commentators erroneously regard the military’s defense of the people as a sign that it was they who were actually leading the uprising. But the loyalty demonstrated by the military to the people’s revolution should be interpreted as a sign of how well the movement did its job, not just of how powerful the military is in Egypt. The strategy was about unifying around a shared vision of Egyptian society. This misconception also is partly attributable to the fact that many of us cannot conceptualize power as taking any form other than a militaristic one. That perspective reflects adherence to outdated assumptions and frames about violence and power, namely the notion that those two concepts are interchangeable. Fortunately, the people of Egypt know better and they’ve given the rest of the world an example from which to build.

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Misconception 3: It was orchestrated by the United States, either by backroom deals or “training and support” of activists. Reality: This unfortunate misconception shows a gross lack of knowledge of how nonviolent action works. There is really only one condition essential for the success of nonviolent struggle and that without which a struggle can never succeed: it must be indigenous. To claim nonviolent protests of the scale we saw in Egypt last spring can be manufactured abroad is to grossly overestimate the influence of US agents and agencies. How could US agencies organize broad-based protests and manage to get hundreds of thousands of people to maintain nonviolent discipline while under violent assault from half a world away, while these same agencies were, for more than five decades, unable to remove octogenarian Fidel Castro from his perch only 90 miles from the US border and with a population eight times smaller than Egypt’s? To say that it was the United States that somehow orchestrated the events in Egypt is also to show contempt for what the people did, which is to take control of their own destiny. To question the Egyptian people’s authorship of their own struggle serves the interests of a brutal dictator and others like him, and it risks undermining global support for what was, both at its heart and its implementation, an indigenous people’s movement. This, by the way, is not to say that US agencies have taken no interest in or have made no attempts at influencing democracy struggles around the world. It is just to argue that, in the case of Egypt and other successful people-power revolutions, that offer of help was declined.

Misconception 4It was an Islamist uprising. Reality: Not only is this incorrect, but it flies directly in the face of claims made by the same analysts who say they’re interested in promoting genuine democracy. There were Muslims in the movement, yes. But there were also Christians, Jews, atheists, and many others. In order to test the credibility of this assertion, it is important to look at the proclaimed objectives of the movement: it was about more rights, more freedoms and more democracy. Contrast those objectives to the common stereotypes about Islam held in the West: that it is undemocratic, violent and oppressive. There is no way to reconcile those two things. Either Western analysts must concede that the Egyptian revolution was not Islamist or they must concede that Islam is not a violent, undemocratic religion. The ideal course of action would be to concede the former completely and the latter mostly. But short of that, it must be one or the other. A related argument is that we should be wary about the Egyptian victory because it will create space for the Muslim Brotherhood to assert more control in that society. There are several things to note about this claim, however: first, it has never been an acceptable argument against democracy to say that it should be limited because of the outcomes it might produce. Secondly, those who make this assertion might do well to ask themselves if they would accept Egyptians picking their leaders for them. If the answer is no, then they owe the same courtesy to the Egyptian people. And lastly, the Muslim Brotherhood (a group which itself is widely misunderstood in that it formally renounced violence as a means of change of decades ago) seems to have begun evolving along with the Egyptian people. As of last week, it formed a coalition with one of Egypt’s most liberal political parties in an attempt to broaden – and moderate – its base.

Misconception 5: It wasn’t nonviolent. Reality: It is unrealistic to imagine that a revolution of this scale and with a target as brutal as this regime can be totally nonviolent. But there is a distinction between saying there were a few violent outbursts by undisciplined individuals and that there was violence by the movement. This movement itself was strictly nonviolent and that is what is most relevant. In a country as large as Egypt, it is impossible to train every person individually in nonviolent strategy. And so, not understanding the necessity of nonviolent discipline, there were some incidents of rock throwing, clashes with police, vandalism and a few outbursts of individual rage. There was a militant flank in many historical nonviolent struggles – South Africa, Chile and the US civil rights movement, to name a few. In each case, as in Egypt, the presence of that contingent undoubtedly made the work of the movement both more difficult and more essential. Because of the potential for possible outbursts, the movement had to: a) distinguish itself from undisciplined radicals, b) make it clear that no violence would be tolerated and c) train new activists on the ground. Consider the lengths to which the regime went to provoke violence by the people in order to create the perceptions that what the movement was doing was not nonviolent and, therefore, not legitimate. It was critical that the movement girded against vulnerability to these kind of agents provocateurs and they did that extraordinarily well, especially considering the movement’s enormous size. At the end of the day, the Egyptian uprising was one of history’s most significant nonviolent struggles and that is how history will remember it.

It is important that events like the ones in Egypt are conveyed as accurately as possible by media for many reasons, but one of the most significant is that the victory of mass nonviolent action in Egypt has implications for terrorist organizations and the perceived efficacy of terrorism itself. As nonviolent methods to push grievances succeed, they de-legitimize violence as a means of promoting change. Nonviolent action offers a realistic alternative to both violence and the status quo and it is, simultaneously, a very powerful form of struggle. If we consider that terrorist organizations and members of movements tend to share the same recruitment bases – disaffected people demanding significant change – then the victory in Egypt has likely done serious damage to the PR campaigns of terrorist networks. Because of that, the people of Egypt should not only be lauded for taking back their freedom through almost entirely democratic means, but for making the world a little bit safer for everyone.

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DR. CYNTHIA BOAZ

Dr. Cynthia Boaz is assistant professor of political science at Sonoma State University, where her areas of expertise include quality of democracy, nonviolent struggle, civil resistance and political communication and media. She is also an affiliated scholar at the UNESCO Chair of Philosophy for Peace International Master in Peace, Conflict, and Development Studies at Universitat Jaume I in Castellon, Spain. Additionally, she is an analyst and consultant on nonviolent action, with special emphasis on the Iran and Burma cases. She is vice president of the Metta Center for Nonviolence and on the board of Project Censored and the Media Freedom Foundation. Dr. Boaz is also a contributing writer and adviser to Truthout.org and associate editor of Peace and Change Journal.

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Egypt police clash with youths; over 1,000 hurt

Posted by Admin on July 2, 2011

http://news.yahoo.com/egypt-police-fire-tear-gas-protesting-youths-082011998.html

By Patrick Werr and Yasmine Saleh | Reuters – Wed, Jun 29, 2011

CAIRO (Reuters) – Police in Cairo fired tear gas on Wednesday at hundreds of stone-throwing Egyptian youths after a night of clashes that injured more than 1,000 people, the worst violence in the capital in several weeks.

Nearly five months since a popular uprising toppled long-serving authoritarian leader Hosni Mubarak, Egypt‘s military rulers are struggling to keep order while a restless public is still impatient for reform.

The latest clashes began after families of people killed in the uprising that ousted Mubarak held an event in a Cairo suburb late on Tuesday in their honor.

Other bereaved relatives arrived to complain that names of their own dead were not mentioned at the ceremony. Fighting broke and moved toward the capital’s central Tahrir Square and the Interior Ministry, according to officials.

The Health Ministry said 1,036 people were injured, among them at least 40 policemen.

The ruling military council said in a statement on its Facebook page that the latest events “had no justification other than to shake Egypt’s safety and security in an organised plan that exploits the blood of the revolution’s martyrs and to sow division between the people and the security apparatus.”

Prime Minister Essam Sharaf told state TV he was monitoring developments and awaiting a full report on the clashes.

A security source quoted by the state news agency MENA said 40 people were arrested, including one U.S. and one British citizen, and were being questioned by military prosecutors.

Some said those involved were bent on battling police rather than protesting. To others, the violence seemed motivated by politics.

“The people are angry that the court cases against top officials keep getting delayed,” said Ahmed Abdel Hamid, 26, a bakery employee who was at the scene overnight, referring to senior political figures from the discredited Mubarak era.

By early afternoon, eight ambulances were in Tahrir, epicenter of the revolt that toppled Mubarak on February 11, and the police had left the square. Dozens of adolescent boys, shirts tied around their heads, blocked traffic from entering Tahrir, using stones and scrap metal.

Some drove mopeds in circles around the square making skids and angering bystanders. “Thugs, thugs… The square is controlled by thugs,” an old man chanted.

“I am here today because I heard about the violent treatment by the police of the protesters last night,” said Magdy Ibrahim, 28, an accountant at Egypt’s Banque du Caire.

TREATING WOUNDED

The clashes unnerved Egypt’s financial market, with equity traders blaming the violence for a 2 percent fall in the benchmark EGX30 index, its biggest drop since June 2.

First-aid workers treated people mostly for inhaling tear gas in overnight violence. A Reuters correspondent saw several people with minor wounds, including some with head cuts.

Mohsen Mourad, the deputy interior minister for Cairo, said the security forces did not enter Tahrir overnight and dealt only with 150-200 people who tried to break into the Interior Ministry and threw stones, damaging cars and police vehicles.

The Muslim Brotherhood‘s political party warned Egyptians that remnants of Mubarak’s rule could exploit violence to their ends. Presidential candidate Mohamed ElBaradei called on the ruling military council to quickly clarify the facts surrounding the violence and to take measures to halt it.

U.S. Undersecretary of State William Burns, visiting Cairo, said he hoped an investigation into the clashes would be “fair and thorough.”

Young men lit car tyres in the street near the ministry on Wednesday, sending black plumes of smoke into the air.

“There is lack of information about what happened and the details are not clear. But the certain thing is that Egyptians are in a state of tension and the reason behind this is that officials are taking time to put Mubarak and officials on trial,” said political analyst Hassan Nafaa.

Sporadic clashes, some of them between Muslims and the Christian minority, have posed a challenge to a government trying to restore order after many police deserted the streets during the uprising against Mubarak. In early May, 12 people were killed and 52 wounded in sectarian clashes and the burning of a church in Cairo’s Imbaba neighborhood.

A hospital in central Cairo’s Munira neighborhood received two civilians and 41 policemen with wounds, bruises and tear gas inhalation, MENA said. All were discharged except one civilian with a bullet wound and a policeman with concussion, it said.

Former interior minister Habib al-Adli has been sentenced to jail for corruption but he and other officials are still being tried on charges related to killing protesters. Police vehicles were stoned by protesters at Sunday’s hearing.

The former president, now hospitalized, has also been charged with the killing of protesters and could face the death penalty. Mubarak’s trial starts on August 3.

(Additional reporting by Dina Zayed and Sherine El Madany; Writing by Edmund Blair and Tom Pfeiffer; Editing by Peter Graff)

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Bahrain protesters gather in capital for third day

Posted by Admin on February 16, 2011

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/us_bahrain;_ylt=A0wNdPF9dFtNT28BHxas0NUE;_ylu=X3oDMTNhbGphY2EzBGFzc2V0A25tLzIwMTEwMjE2L3VzX2JhaHJhaW4EY2NvZGUDbW9zdHBvcHVsYXIEY3BvcwMxBHBvcwMyBHB0A2hvbWVfY29rZQRzZWMDeW5fdG9wX3N0b3J5BHNsawNiYWhyYWlucHJvdGU-

Protesters serve coffee and tea at the Pearl ...
Reuters – Protesters serve coffee and tea at the Pearl Roundabout, a famous landmark of Bahrain
By Cynthia Johnston Cynthia Johnston 30 mins ago

MANAMA (Reuters) – Thousands of Shi’ite demonstrators, inspired by popular revolts that toppled rulers in Tunisia and Egypt, gathered in Bahrain’s capital on Wednesday to mourn for a second protestor killed in clashes this week.

Several hundred gathered at a funeral procession for a man shot dead when police and mourners clashed at an earlier funeral procession on Tuesday.

“We are requesting our rights in a peaceful way,” said Bakr Akil, a 20 year-old university student, wearing a sheet stained with red ink that he said was a symbol of his willingness to sacrifice his life for freedom.

“I am optimistic that our big presence will achieve our demands,” Akil said.

Women dressed in black abayas followed the procession with their own chants calling for peace and Bahraini unity.

Elsewhere in central Manama, witnesses say about 2,000 protestors had spent the night in tents at Bahrain’s Pearl Roundabout, similar to the number marching on the streets a day earlier.

It remains to be seen whether the number would rise or fall during Wednesday. Some will have to return to work, after a public holiday on Tuesday to mark the Prophet Mohammed‘s birthday.

Police kept their distance, mostly confining themselves to a nearby dirt lot with dozens of SUV police vehicles. The ministry of Interior announced that all roads were open.

The demonstrators from Bahrain’s Shi’ite majority say the ruling Sunni minority shuts them out of housing, healthcare and government jobs.

“The United States is very concerned by recent violence surrounding protests in Bahrain,” State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said in a statement. “We also call on all parties to exercise restraint and refrain from violence.”

The main Shi’ite opposition bloc Wefaq, which boycotted parliament to protest the clampdown by Sunni security forces, said it would hold talks with the government on Wednesday.

Protesters said their main demand was the resignation of Prime Minister Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman al-Khalifa, who has governed the Gulf Arab state since its independence in 1971.

An uncle of King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa, he is thought to own much land and is seen as a symbol of the wealth of the ruling family.

DEMOGRAPHIC BALANCE

Activists say they also want the release of political prisoners, which the government has promised, and the creation of a new constitution.

Poverty, high unemployment and alleged attempts by the state to grant citizenship to Sunni foreigners to change the demographic balance have intensified discontent among Bahrain’s Shi’ites.

Around half of the tiny island kingdom’s 1.3 million people are Bahraini, the rest being foreign workers.

Analysts say large-scale unrest in Bahrain, home to the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet and a regional offshore banking center, could embolden marginalized Shi’ites in nearby Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil exporter.

King Hamad expressed his condolences for “the deaths of two of our dear sons” in a televised speech and said a committee would investigate the killings.

Bahrain, in a move appeared aimed at preventing Shi’ite discontent from boiling over, had offered cash payouts of around 1,000 dinars ($2,650) per family in the run-up to this week’s protests.

(Reporting by Frederik Richter; writing by Reed Stevenson; editing by Matthew Jones)

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Gunfire pounds anti-Mubarak protest camp in Cairo

Posted by Admin on February 3, 2011

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110203/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_egypt

CAIROHeavy automatic weapons fire pounded the anti-government protest camp in Cairo‘s Tahrir Square before dawn on Thursday in a dramatic escalation of what appeared to be a well-orchestrated series of assaults on the demonstrators. At least three protesters were killed by gunfire, according to one of the activists.

The crowds seeking an end to President Hosni Mubarak’s nearly three decades in power were still reeling from attacks hours earlier in which Mubarak supporters charged into the square on horses and camels, lashing people with whips, while others rained firebombs and rocks from rooftops.

The protesters accused Mubarak’s regime of unleashing a force of paid thugs and plainclothes police to crush their unprecedented nine-day-old movement, a day after the 82-year-old president refused to step down. They showed off police ID badges they said were wrested from their attackers. Some government workers said their employers ordered them into the streets.

The violence intensified overnight, as sustained bursts of automatic gunfire and powerful single shots rained into the square starting at around 4 a.m. and continuing for more than two hours.

Protest organizer Mustafa el-Naggar said he saw the bodies of three dead protesters being carried toward an ambulance. He said the gunfire came from at least three locations in the distance and that the Egyptian military, which has ringed the square with tank squads for days to try to keep some order, did not intervene.

Footage from AP Television News showed one tank spreading a thick smoke screen along a highway overpass just to the north of the square in an apparent attempt to deprive attackers of a high vantage point. The two sides seemed to be battling for control of the overpass, which leads to a main bridge over the Nile.

In the darkness, groups of men hurled firebombs and rocks from the bridge, where a wrecked car sat engulfed in flames. Others dragged two apparently lifeless bodies from the area.

Egypt‘s health minister did not answer a phone call seeking confirmation of the number killed.

Click image to see photos of anti-government protests in Egypt

At daybreak, the two sides were still battling with rocks and flaming bottles of gasoline along the front line on the northern edge of the square, near the famed Egyptian Museum.

Demonstrators took cover behind makeshift barricades of corrugated metal sheeting taken from a nearby construction site and Mubarak supporters seemed to hold their ground on the overpass. Between them stretched a burning no-man’s-land of smoldering cars, hunks of concrete and fires.

The fighting began more than 12 hours earlier, turning the celebratory atmosphere in the square over the previous day into one of terror and sending a stream of wounded to makeshift clinics in mosques and alleyways on the anti-government side. Three people died in the violence on Wednesday and 600 were injured.

Mustafa el-Fiqqi, a senior official from the ruling National Democratic Party, told The Associated Press that businessmen connected to the ruling party were responsible for what happened.

The notion that the state may have coordinated violence against protesters, who had kept a peaceful vigil in Tahrir Square for five days, prompted a sharp rebuke from the Obama administration.

“If any of the violence is instigated by the government, it should stop immediately,” said White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs.

The clashes marked a dangerous new phase in Egypt’s upheaval: the first significant violence between government supporters and opponents. The crisis took a sharp turn for the worse almost immediately after Mubarak rejected the calls for him to give up power or leave the country, stubbornly proclaiming he would die on Egyptian soil.

His words were a blow to the protesters. They also suggest that authorities want to turn back the clock to the tight state control enforced before the protests began.

Mubarak’s supporters turned up on the streets Wednesday in significant numbers for the first time. Some were hostile to journalists and foreigners. Two Associated Press correspondents and several other journalists were roughed up in Cairo. State TV had reported that foreigners were caught distributing anti-Mubarak leaflets, apparently trying to depict the movement as foreign-fueled.

The scenes of mayhem were certain to add to the fear that is already running high in this capital of 18 million people after a weekend of looting and lawlessness and the escape of thousands of prisoners from jails in the chaos.

Soldiers surrounding Tahrir Square fired occasional shots in the air throughout Wednesday’s clashes but did not appear to otherwise intervene and no uniformed police were seen. Most of the troops took shelter behind or inside the armored vehicles and tanks stationed at the entrances to the square.

“Why don’t you protect us?” some protesters shouted at the soldiers, who replied they did not have orders to do so and told people to go home.

“The army is neglectful. They let them in,” said Emad Nafa, a 52-year-old among the protesters, who for days had showered the military with affection for its neutral stance.

Some of the worst street battles raged near the Egyptian Museum at the edge of the square. Pro-government rioters blanketed the rooftops of nearby buildings and hurled bricks and firebombs onto the crowd below — in the process setting a tree ablaze inside the museum grounds. Plainclothes police at the building entrances prevented anti-Mubarak protesters from storming up to stop them.

The two sides pummeled each other with chunks of concrete and bottles at each of the six entrances to the sprawling plaza, where 10,000 anti-Mubarak protesters tried to fend off more than 3,000 attackers who besieged them. Some on the pro-government side waved machetes, while the square’s defenders filled the air with a ringing battlefield din by banging metal fences with sticks.

In one almost medieval scene, a small contingent of pro-Mubarak forces on horseback and camels rushed into the anti-government crowds, trampling several people and swinging whips and sticks. Protesters dragged some riders from their mounts, throwing them to the ground and beating their faces bloody. The horses and camels appeared to be ones used to give tourists rides around Cairo.

Dozens of men and women pried up pieces of the pavement with bars and ferried the piles of ammunition in canvas sheets to their allies at the front. Others directed fighters to streets needing reinforcements.

The protesters used a subway station as a makeshift prison for the attackers they managed to catch. They tied the hands and legs of their prisoners and locked them inside. People grabbed one man who was bleeding from the head, hit him with their sandals and threw him behind a closed gate.

Some protesters wept and prayed in the square where only a day before they had held a joyous, peaceful rally of a quarter-million, the largest demonstration so far.

Egyptian Health Minister Ahmed Sameh Farid said three people died and at least 611 were injured in Tahrir Square on Wednesday. One of those killed fell from a bridge near the square; Farid said the man was in civilian clothes but may have been a member of the security forces.

Farid did not say how the other two victims, both young men, were killed. It was not clear whether they were government supporters or anti-Mubarak demonstrators.

After years of tight state control, protesters emboldened by the uprising in Tunisia took to the streets on Jan. 25 and mounted a once-unimaginable series of demonstrations across this nation of 80 million. For the past few days, protesters who camped out in Tahrir Square reveled in a new freedom — publicly expressing their hatred for the Mubarak regime.

“After our revolution, they want to send people here to ruin it for us,” said Ahmed Abdullah, a 47-year-old lawyer in the square.

Another man shrieked through a loudspeaker: “Hosni has opened the door for these thugs to attack us.”

The pressure for demonstrators to clear the square mounted throughout the day, beginning early when a military spokesman appeared on state TV and asked them to disperse so life in Egypt could get back to normal.

It was a change in attitude by the army, which for the past few days had allowed protests to swell with no interference and even made a statement saying they had a legitimate right to demonstrate peacefully.

Then the regime began to rally its supporters in significant numbers for the first time, demanding an end to the protest movement. Some 20,000 Mubarak supporters held an angry but mostly peaceful rally on Wednesday across the Nile River from Tahrir, responding to calls on state TV.

They said Mubarak’s concessions were enough. He has promised not to run for re-election in September, named a new government and appointed a vice president for the first time, widely considered his designated successor.

They were bitter at the jeers hurled at Mubarak.

“I feel humiliated,” said Mohammed Hussein, a 31-year-old factory worker. “He is the symbol of our country. When he is insulted, I am insulted.”

The anti-Mubarak movement has vowed to intensify protests to force him out by Friday.

State TV said Vice President Omar Suleiman called “on the youth to heed the armed forces’ call and return home to restore order.” From the other side, senior anti-Mubarak figure Mohamed ElBaradei demanded the military “intervene immediately and decisively to stop this massacre.”

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton spoke with Suleiman to condemn the violence and urge Egypt’s government to hold those responsible for it accountable, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said.

___

AP correspondents Sarah El Deeb, Hamza Hendawi, Diaa Hadid, Lee Keath, Michael Weissenstein and Maggie Michael contributed to this report.

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