Daily Archives: April 30, 2016

France | 124 people arrested in France

Yesterday clashes between police and protesters erupted in the cities of Paris, Nantes, Lyon, Marseille and Toulouse, with 124 people arrested nationwide, French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said.
In Paris, security forces fired tear gas and stun grenades early Friday to disperse hundreds of people who had refused to leave Place de la Republique after a night-time rally.
The clashes came as at least 170,000 workers and students took to streets nationwide Thursday in a new push for the withdrawal of the proposed labour law.
“We have always condemned violence,” said Jean-Claude Mailly of the Force Ouvriere trade union, arguing that the violence occurred “outside of the protests”.
William Martinet, leader of the biggest student union, the UNEF, condemned the rioters but also denounced a “disproportionate use of force by the police”.
The demonstrations as well as work stoppages, notably in the aviation and public transport sectors, were the latest actions in a wave of protests that began two months ago and has proved a major headache for the government.
Opponents of the labour reform, billed as an effort to reduce chronic unemployment, which stands at 10 percent, say it will threaten cherished rights and deepen job insecurity for young people.
“Be Young and Shut Up!” read one banner at a protest in southwestern Toulouse, highlighting the frustration of youths facing an unemployment rate of 25 percent.

Moldovan political prisoners win partial victory

The Petrenko Group, seven communists and anti-oligarchy political prisoners in Moldova, have been freed from house arrest on April 26.

A court in Chisinau, the Moldovan capital, transferred them to “judicial control” – essentially, released on bail – while their trial on charges of rioting and organizing disorders continues. They face up to eight years in prison if convicted.
The ruling came after months of pressure on the pro-Western regime, which is dominated by the country’s leading oligarch, Vlad Plahotniuc, including visits from several delegations of European parliamentarians and protests held from Russia to the U.S.
The ongoing abuse of the political prisoners has become a scandal for the regime’s backers in Europe.
Red Bloc party leader Grigory Petrenko and his comrades were arrested at a peaceful demonstration in Chisinau on September 6, 2015. They spent almost six months in jail before being transferred to a regime of strict house arrest in late February.
Under the new terms imposed by the court, the political prisoners are still banned from taking part in protests. They will, however, be able to leave their homes, speak to the media, and participate on social media, all of which were previously banned.
Petrenko charged that the court’s ban on taking part in the protests violates their constitutional rights. “In paragraph 6, the court decision says that we have no right to be in places where protests take place, which could escalate into riots. This is strange wording. I believe that in this way our constitutional rights are violated,” Petrenko told reporters after the hearing. (NewsMaker.md)
On April 24, a mass anti-oligarchy protest demanding early parliamentary elections was held in Chisinau. Outside the oligarch Plahotnic’s home, riot police carried automatic weapons, fired tear gas and clubbed protesters.
The Red Bloc denounced the repression of protesters, citing the illegal actions of the police and other security forces, and calling for the immediate arrest of Interior Minister Alexander Zhizdana and other responsible officials.

Ukraine | Arbitrariness in the eve of public commemoration in Odessa: a German citizen has been detained

A German citizen Saadi Isakov traveling to the Ukrainian city of Odessa to attend a second anniversary memorial in honor of the victims of the tragic events of May 2, 2014, has been detained at the Odessa airport and is not being allowed to enter the country.
According to sources in the Black Sea city, Saadi Isakov is being detained in a room “with no amenities, not even water,” and is not being allowed to speak with an attorney, a violation of international agreements signed by Ukraine.
The German consulate in Kiev has been notified, along with the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and United Nations, the sources said.
International observers from nine European countries and the United States are planning to attend Monday’s memorial in Odessa’s Kolikovo square, the scene of a massacre in which at least 46 pro-federalists were killed in an attack by a large mob led by ultra-nationalists. Many of those perished from flames or smoke inhalation when the nearby five-story House of Trade Unions in which the federalists had taken refuge was hit with a multitude of firebombs.
Monday’s memorial is being organized by the Mothers Committee for May 2, comprised of relatives, friends and supporters of those who were killed.
Tensions have been running high in the city of 1 million, with right-wing extremist organizations threatening to disrupt the memorial. In response, some 3,500 police officers have been deployed, along with 300 members of the National Guard, including units of the Azov battalion. The presence of Azov, an organization routinely described as neo-Nazi, has also raised concerns.
At the U.S. State Department’s daily press briefing on April 26, Deputy Spokesperson Mark Toner addressed the growing tensions in Odessa.
“The most important thing to stress here is that we would obviously support any commemoration of this event … and we would certainly condemn any threats in the run-up to these events,” Toner said.
Toner also pointed out that the State Department had strongly condemned the massacre of May 2, 2014, and supported holding an investigation to bring those responsible “to justice.”
The State Department’s remarks came as a global campaign builds to support the right of the Mothers’ Committee to honor the memories of their family members and to press their demand for an international investigation into the massacre.
As of April 28, more than 150 human rights, peace and justice organizations in 23 countries have signed a Statement of Solidarity calling on the governments of Ukraine, Odessa and the United States to ensure the safety of the Mothers’ Committee’s memorial. The statement also endorses the committee’s call for an international investigation into the massacre.
To date, not one of the perpetrators has been brought to justice, despite extensive video coverage clearly showing people hurling Molotov cocktails, swinging clubs and shooting guns at the victims.
The Statement of Support, initiated by the United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC), was delivered to the Embassy of Ukraine in Washington D.C.
Those wishing to support this ongoing struggle for justice, can endorse the UNAC Solidarity Statement at www.unacpeace.org and sign the Mother’s Committee petition at http://odessa2may.wesign.it/en
Interviews with U.S. delegation members can be arranged through UNAC Co-Coordinator Joe Lombardo at 1-518-227-6947 or UNACpeace@gmail.com

France | Protests shrink as police attack fourth day of action against French labour law

By Alex Lantier
29 April 2016

Hundreds of thousands of people marched across France yesterday in the fourth day of action called by trade, high school, and university student unions against the labour law reform of Socialist Party (PS) Labour Minister Myriam El Khomri. Rail, airport, and port workers walked off the job. Riot police, who have savagely attacked youth on every protest against the El Khomri law, again clashed with protesters in cities across the country.