Mauritania: Hot Heads and Cold Shoulders

Tasiast Workers Sit-in
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As the wealthy upper management of Canada’s Kinross Gold were celebrating Christmas, a large group of almost 300 members of its workforce at the Tasiast operation in Mauritania received the unwelcome news that they were being laid off. The official line is that this was all part of a necessary strategy to cut costs and reduce operational capacity, and is also related to a fall in the price of gold.

The workers in Mauritania say they have not been treated fairly, that collective redundancies are not legal, and that they have a raft of additional issues which need to be addressed. One worker told a local reporter that he received his notice while taking his first vacation from work in six years. Another got the news while still undergoing medical treatment for an industrial injury. Several of those laid off had been encouraged to take out large bank loans, the status of which is now a major problem.

Frustrated by the lack of reaction, a group of workers began an open-ended sit-in outside the Presidential Palace in Nouakchott on December 25 to demand a hearing and request fair treatment under the prevailing law. As usual, a representative from the office of President Aziz came out to receive the demands of the delegation, but returned to say Aziz would not grant them an audience. The protesters remained in place, throughout the bitterly cold nights.

After the sit-in continued for some days without redress from the company or action by the authorities, local activists and concerned members of civil society went to sit with them and show solidarity, and returned on January 5 to take part in a human chain of protest, as shown in the video above, and the photo gallery below.

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The media responded with a blanket of silence – the mining companies in Mauritania are big spenders when it comes to advertising contracts. The parties of the political opposition likewise had little to say.

Then, late on Thursday 9 January, the sit-in had a visit from the police. The mining workers were told they must leave the area because President Keita of Mali was coming to pay an official visit and they were making the place look untidy. Naturally, they refused to budge. Another group of unrelated protesters who were in the same location that evening did comply with police orders to vacate the area.

At around 02:55, the riot squads arrived in eight vehicles and, after talking quietly with the workers for about 15 minutes, launched a sudden violent attack, using batons and tear gas. After two brutal hours of police repression against the workers from Tasiast, and the activists who rushed to their side in support, there were about a dozen people injured. Four men with more with serious injuries were refused treatment, through the combined obstruction of medical staff at the National Hospital and the police. Several protesters were robbed of cash and mobile phones by the police while being searched; an amount of 400,000 MRO has been reported. The police also confiscated blankets, rugs, clothes and cooking gear from the sit-in.

Police released about 10 workers arrested during the raid and the running battle in the streets of Nouakchott which ensued; the rest were released later. There was no media presence the entire time, only activists from Mouvement du 25 Février (m25fev) and La Jeunesse de RFD trying to document events. One of the m25fev activists was injured quite seriously in the shoulder and was detained by police for about 2 hours.

The protests in the capital continued on Saturday 11 January, despite the previous day’s violence.

Protesting mine workers outside Tasiast HQ Nouakchott

Protesting mine workers outside Tasiast HQ Nouakchott

The protesters switched location to stand outside the Kinross office in Nouakchott, but an activist reported to a local journalist that the management there called the police, claiming the protesters were throwing stones – which the activist strenuously denied. Police cordoned off the area and there was an unconfirmed report that tear gas was used again.

This issue is being systematically ignored, while far larger “Islamic” protests are being orchestrated in Nouakchott and Nouadhibou to demand the application of Sharia law against the author of a recent blog post which was critical of the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH).

Massive protest march after Friday prayers descended on the presidential palace

Massive protest march after Friday prayers descended on the presidential palace

These protests are growing in size and turning violent. On Saturday 11 January in Nouadhibou, three injuries – including one police officer – were reported after clashes with police. The previous day, that town saw large protests with tyres being burned, cars and shops vandalised, as police used tear gas to disperse the protesters. Local journalist Ahmed Salem was beaten and arrested by police. In Nouakchott, hundreds marched to the palace and the president came down to address the crowd, and remind them that Mauritania is an Islamic Republic which already uses Sharia.

10Jan Aziz outside the palace

Aziz dons his turban to address people outside the palace

Deeply reminiscent of the book burning incident of May 2012, this Aziz PR stunt has drawn immediate censure across the board, including from some highly influential commentators. Although the worst of the criticism was reserved for Aziz, there was some remaining for an obviously false claim by one (barely legitimate) news site that Al Qaeda flags had been spotted in the Nouadhibou protests, which is being resoundingly refuted. There is also mounting concern about the decidedly un-Islamic behaviour of robberies and violence being reported.

As for the alleged reason for these massive, repeated protests – the offensive article – this is a most unusual situation and one which is perhaps too easily exploited.  The supposed author of the article was arrested over a week ago, and was sent to the High Court for arraignment a few days later, after admitting to writing the item in question. He is said to have been charged with apostasy, which is covered in Article 306 of the current penal code. He can be fined and sentenced to prison if he makes a public apology, or he can refuse and be sentenced to death. He has already issued a written retraction and apology before being arrested (or taken into protective custody, depending on the source). No one has been executed in Mauritania for decades.

These twinned sagas will continue, the redundant Tasiast workers will be ignored, while demanding redress under a law which exists but probably doesn’t apply to their specific situation; and the devout Muslims will be showered with attention, demanding introduction of a law that would be redundant because one already exists and is being applied. By Tuesday, 14 January, the day assigned as the anniversary of the birth of Mohammed (PBUH), this particular powder keg could be set to explode.

ECHELON, PROMIS, PRISM: Global Interception to Global Deception

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The history of spying and being spied upon is as old as dirt, but lately there’s this feeling that, left unchecked for too long, it’s got out of hand. We have an equally long history of allowing previous chances to pay attention slip from our grasp. Looking back just a few years, ECHELON is one example:

Global system for the interception of private and commercial communications (ECHELON)

Global system for the interception of private and commercial communications (ECHELON)

From the European Parliament website Report (11 July 2001) on the existence of a global system for the interception of private and commercial communications (ECHELON interception system):

The system known as ‘ECHELON’ is an interception system which differs from other intelligence systems in that it possesses two features which make it quite unusual:

The first such feature attributed to it is the capacity to carry out quasi-total surveillance. Satellite receiver stations and spy satellites in particular are alleged to give it the ability to intercept any telephone, fax, Internet or e-mail message sent by any individual and thus to inspect its contents.

The second unusual feature of ECHELON is said to be that the system operates worldwide on the basis of cooperation proportionate to their capabilities among several states (the UK, the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand), giving it an added value in comparison to national systems: the states participating in ECHELON (UKUSA states(8)) can place their interception systems at each other’s disposal, share the cost and make joint use of the resulting information. This type of international cooperation is essential in particular for the worldwide interception of satellite communications, since only in this way is it possible to ensure in international communications that both sides of a dialogue can be intercepted. It is clear that, in view of its size, a satellite receiver station cannot be established on the territory of a state without that state’s knowledge. Mutual agreement and proportionate cooperation among several states in different parts of the world is essential.

Possible threats to privacy and to businesses posed by a system of the ECHELON type arise not only from the fact that is a particularly powerful monitoring system, but also that it operates in a largely legislation-free area. Systems for the interception of international communications are not usually targeted at residents of the home country. The person whose messages were intercepted would have no domestic legal protection, not being resident in the country concerned. Such a person would be completely at the mercy of the system. Parliamentary supervision would also be inadequate in this area, since the voters, who assume that interception ‘only’ affects people abroad, would not be particularly interested in it, and elected representatives chiefly follow the interests of their voters. That being so, it is hardly surprising that the hearings held in the US Congress concerning the activities of the NSA were confined to the question of whether US citizens were affected by it, with no real concern expressed regarding the existence of such a system in itself. It thus seems all the more important to investigate this issue at European level.

(my emphasis)

As this excerpt illustrates, there is an established, ongoing programme of mutual cooperation, and individual citizens of their respective countries don’t make a fuss because they wrongly assume they are not targets. The hidden truth here is really sad: neither government or people are concerned about bad stuff happening in other countries. We’re fine with investing, trading, travelling, or studying abroad, but if there’s a problem, we want to scurry home and pull up the drawbridge.

More recently, we heard about “PROMIS” – for example, in this post from 2006 which states:

“National Security Agency (NSA) computers have been downloading financial and personal files of all American citizens as a result of upgrades to the Echelon satellite network and software program which is part of the Prosecutor’s Management Information System (PROMIS).

SOG says that NSA also has a “7-10 second lead time” which effectively affords the agency the opportunity to delay the release of currency, stock and bond sales transactions which permits a criminal advantage to agency officials and other high-level associates who game the system of the world’s financial markets”

(my emphasis)

These historic reports explain why so many people, myself included, maintain that the current media revelations about PRISM are not actually news. We have been aware for some time that nothing and no one is “safe” from prying electronic eyes. For most of us, this issue is not about having “something to hide”: it’s about exercising the right to go about your business and not have your private and personal life intruded on without good reason by anyone, and especially not the government that is supposed to serve you. Worse, and decidedly more underhand, is the notion of another country’s government spying on you, then sharing that information with your government in some shady secret information exchange deal. It is about being innocent until proven guilty in a public court of law, with the right to defend yourself. Basically, we don’t want our phone conversations, correspondence or bank accounts to be the target of extrajudicial electronic snooper drones. We don’t want government more loyal to its clandestine relationships with other countries than to the electorate.

Are4D7z - ImgurIf you were not previously aware, or not focussed on these risks, you can thank Edward Snowden and the media coverage of PRISM for bringing these concerns to the front page.The PRISM reports are being issued with exceptionally useful timing, coinciding initially with meetings between China and the US, and then just ahead of the G8 summit.  This inevitably leads to speculation over why non-news is being pushed so hard, and whether there is an alternative agenda. We can’t know for sure what the deal is with these PRISM revelations, we can only throw around a few guesses or wait for more information to come to light. There are several possibilities being mulled over, from diverting attention away from other news items, to inciting civil unrest and manufacturing dissent among grassroots movements on a par with the Occupy protests. Proponents of the latter point out that Edward Snowden’s story also contains some subtle, and not so subtle, messages targeting anti-establishment activists. For example, reports mention he had an Electronic Frontier Foundation  bumper sticker on his laptop lid, and his responses in the Guardian’s Q&A include a plug for an upcoming “Restore The Fourth Amendment” 4 July march. The main thing to keep in mind is that all news must be regarded with a critical if not cynical eye. There is enough evidence of news being used to misdirect and manipulate popular opinion; what matters is how, and if, we choose to react.

Photo: New York Daily News

Photo: New York Daily News

Who is Edward Snowden, and why should you care? He is being hailed as a hero by some, a traitor by others, and even an actor of sorts. Apart from establishing his credibility, there is really no good reason to form an obsession about Edward Snowden, especially if that diverts attention away from the far more important content of his message.

Did he really work for the US Government? Evidence that he did can be gleaned from a comment Snowden posted on the Ars Technica forum back in 2006, when he was considering his preferences for being sent overseas for two years on assignment:

“Although I’m not a diplomat, I work for the Department of State. I actually signed up because of the opportunity for foreign travel [...] I also don’t see the allure of “Scandinavian” countries, but that’s simply because I don’t want to live in a country where warmth and comfort are only spoken of in bedtime stories. China is definitely a good option career-wise, and I’ve already got a basic understanding of Mandarin and the culture, but it just doesn’t seem like as much “fun” as some of the other places. Who knows where the “needs of the service” will actually end up placing me, though. Azerbaijan, anyone? Scared

Despite his preferences, Snowden was apparently posted to Geneva. Since he already knew some Mandarin, I think that makes Hong Kong a less surprising choice of venue for his initial exile. Snowden may not like cold countries, but a lot has changed since 2006. Perhaps global warming can take care of the rest.

Is he now a wanted criminal? Despite reports that US government is angered by Snowden’s whistleblowing, it has yet to issue an international arrest warrant, meaning he should be free to travel anywhere, with the possible exception of the United States.

*Featured image for this post is from a platoon page on the “Battlefield 3″ gaming website for the Tom Clancy Splinter Cell MMO‘s “Third Echelon“.

Obama’s 23 May 2013 National Security Speech – Highlights

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Video: President Obama’s speech on counterterrorism at National Defense University in Washington, D.C. touched on drones, renewed efforts to close Guantanamo Bay, and was interrupted by CODEPINK’s Media Benjamin heckling loudly [1].

Highlights from Washington Post’s full transcript.

Americans Ambivalent After Over a Decade at War

Americans are deeply ambivalent about war, but having fought for our independence, we know a price must be paid for freedom.We have now been at war for well over a decade. I won’t review the full history. What is clear is that we quickly drove al-Qaida out of Afghanistan, but then shifted our focus and began a new war in Iraq. And this carried significant consequences for our fight against al-Qaida, our standing in the world and, to this day, our interests in a vital region.

Use of Torture and Illegal Detention Compromises American Values

169351796Meanwhile, we strengthened our defenses. Most of these changes were sound. But some, like expanded surveillance, raised difficult questions about the balance that we strike between our interests in security and our values of privacy. And in some cases, I believe we compromised our basic values — by using torture to interrogate our enemies, and detaining individuals in a way that ran counter to the rule of law.

No Large-Scale Attacks on the US Since 9/11

Today Osama bin Laden is dead, and so are most of his top lieutenants. There have been no large-scale attacks on the United States, and our homeland is more secure. Fewer of our troops are in harm’s way, and over the next 19 months they will continue to come home.

Our nation is still threatened by terrorists. But we recognize that the threat has shifted and evolved from the one that came to our shores on 9/11. With a decade of experience to draw from, this is the moment to ask ourselves hard questions about the nature of today’s threats and how we should confront them.

[O]ver the last decade, our nation has spent well over a trillion dollars on war, helping to explode our deficits and constraining our ability to nation-build here at home. Our service members and their families have sacrificed far more on our behalf.

From our use of drones to the detention of terrorist suspects, the decisions we are making will define the type of nation and world that we leave to our children.

America is at a crossroads

We must define the nature and scope of this struggle, or else it will define us.

Neither I nor any president can promise the total defeat of terror. [We must] dismantle networks that pose a direct danger to us and make it less likely for new groups to gain a foothold.. From Yemen to Iraq, from Somalia to North Africa, the threat today is more diffuse, with al-Qaida’s affiliates in the Arabian Peninsula, AQAP, the most active in plotting against our homeland.

Unrest in the Arab world has also allowed extremists to gain a foothold in countries like Libya and Syria. ..we continue to confront state- sponsored networks like Hezbollah that engage in acts of terror to achieve political goals. Other of these groups are simply collections of local militias or extremists interested in seizing territory. And while we are vigilant for signs that these groups may pose a transnational threat, most are focused on operating in the countries and regions where they are based. And that means we’ll face more localized threats like what we saw in Benghazi, or the BP oil facility in Algeria, in which local operatives — perhaps in loose affiliation with regional networks — launch periodic attacks against Western diplomats, companies and other soft targets, or resort to kidnapping and other criminal enterprises to fund their operations.

The Future of Terrorism: Home-Grown Threats, Soft Target Attacks Abroad

And finally, we face a real threat from radicalized individuals here in the United States.

Deranged or alienated individuals, often U.S. citizens or legal residents, can do enormous damage, particularly when inspired by larger notions of violent jihad.

So that’s the current threat. Lethal, yet less capable, al-Qaida affiliates, threats to diplomatic facilities and businesses abroad, homegrown extremists. This is the future of terrorism.

[W]e have to recognize that these threats do not arise in a vacuum. Most, though not all, of the terrorism we face is fueled by .. a belief by some extremists that Islam is in conflict with the United States and the West and that violence against Western targets, including civilians, is justified in pursuit of a larger cause. Of course, this ideology is based on a lie, for the United States is not at war with Islam. And this ideology is rejected by the vast majority of Muslims — who are the most frequent victims of terrorist attacks.

We need all elements of national power to win a battle of wills, a battle of ideas.

First, we must finish the work of defeating al-Qaida and its associated forces.

In Afghanistan, we will complete our transition to Afghan responsibility for that country’s security.

Beyond Afghanistan, we must define our effort not as a boundless global war on terror but rather as a series of persistent, targeted efforts to dismantle specific networks of violent extremists that threaten America. In many cases, this will involve partnerships with other countries.

In Yemen, we are supporting security forces that have reclaimed territory from AQAP.

In Somalia, we helped a coalition of African nations push al-Shabab out of its strongholds.

In Mali, we’re providing military aid to French-led intervention to push back al-Qaida in the Maghreb

Much of our best counterterrorism cooperation results in the gathering and sharing of intelligence, the arrest and prosecution of terrorists.

[O]ur operation in Pakistan against Osama bin Laden cannot be the norm.

Drone Strikes Are Legal, Preferable to Doing Nothing, Will Reduce by 2015

[Drone]  technology raises profound questions about who is targeted and why, about civilian casualties and the risk of creating new enemies, about the legality of such strikes under U.S. and international law, about accountability and morality. Simply put, these strikes have saved lives. ..America’s actions are legal. We were attacked on 9/11. Within a week, Congress overwhelmingly authorized the use of force. Under domestic law and international law, the United States is at war with al-Qaida, the Taliban, and their associated forces. [Yet]  America’s legitimate claim of self-defense cannot be the end of the discussion. To say a military tactic is legal, or even effective, is not to say it is wise or moral in every instance… by the end of 2014 we will no longer have the same need for force protection, and the progress we have made against core al-Qaida will reduce the need for unmanned strikes.

U.S. strikes have resulted in civilian casualties…  for the families of those civilians, no words or legal construct can justify their loss.  [But to] do nothing in the face of terrorist networks would invite far more civilian casualties.. Remember that the terrorists we are after target civilians, and the death toll from their acts of terrorism against Muslims dwarfs any estimate of civilian casualties from drone strikes.

So doing nothing’s not an option.

[I]t is false to assert that putting boots on the ground is less likely to result in civilian deaths, or less likely to create enemies in the Muslim world.

Congress Is Briefed On Every Drone Strike But Oversight Must Increase

Not only did Congress authorize the use of force, it is briefed on every strike that America takes. [including the one on Anwar Awlaki]

For the record, I do not believe it would be constitutional for the government to target and kill any U.S. citizen … without due process. Nor should any president deploy armed drones over U.S. soil.

But the high threshold that we’ve set for taking lethal action applies to all potential terrorist targets, regardless of whether or not they are American citizens. This threshold respects the inherent dignity of every human life.

Now, going forward, I’ve asked my administration to review proposals to extend oversight of lethal actions outside of war zones that go beyond our reporting to Congress.

Foreign Aid – as Crucial as Force and Far Cheaper

[F]orce alone cannot make us safe. We cannot use force everywhere that a radical ideology takes root.

This means patiently supporting transitions to democracy in places like Egypt and Tunisia and Libya, because the peaceful realization of individual aspirations will serve as a rebuke to violent extremism. We must strengthen the opposition in Syria, while isolating extremist elements, because the end of a tyrant must not give way to the tyranny of terrorism.

We are actively working to promote peace between Israelis and Palestinians because it is right and because such a peace could help reshape attitudes in the region. And we must help countries modernize economies, upgrade education and encourage entrepreneurship because American leadership has always been elevated by our ability to connect with peoples’ hopes and not simply their fears.

For what we spent in a month in Iraq at the height of the war, we could be training security forces in Libya, maintaining peace agreements between Israel and its neighbors, feeding the hungry in Yemen, building schools in Pakistan and creating reservoirs of good will that marginalize extremists.

That has to be part of our strategy.

[W]e cannot neglect the challenge of terrorism from within our borders…this threat is not new… technology and the Internet increase its frequency, and in some cases its lethality… the best way to prevent violent extremism inspired by violent jihadists is to work with the Muslim American community, which has consistently rejected terrorism, to identify signs of radicalization, and partner with law enforcement when an individual is drifting towards violence.

And these partnerships can only work when we recognize that Muslims are a fundamental part of the American family. In fact, the success of American Muslims, and our determination to guard against any encroachments on their civil liberties, is the ultimate rebuke to those who say that we’re at war with Islam.

Investigating National Security Leaks Versus Press Freedom

You know, the Justice Department’s investigation of national security leaks offers a recent example of the challenges involved in striking the right balance between our security and our open society. I believe we must keep information secret that protects our operations and our people in the field. But a free press is also essential for our democracy. I’m troubled by the possibility that leak investigations may chill the investigative journalism that holds government accountable.

Journalists should not be at legal risk for doing their jobs. I have called on Congress to pass a media shield law to guard against government overreach. I’ve raised these issues with the attorney general [and directed him] to report back to me by July 12th.

Ditching AUMF, Closing Guantanamo

I look forward to efforts to refine and ultimately repeal the AUMF’s mandate. And I will not sign laws designed to expand this mandate further. Our systematic effort to dismantle terrorist organizations must continue. But this war, like all wars, must end. That’s what history advises. It’s what our democracy demands.

The original premise for opening Gitmo, that detainees would not be able to challenge their detention, was found unconstitutional five years ago. In the meantime, Gitmo has become a symbol around the world for an America that flouts the rule of law. Our allies won’t cooperate with us if they think a terrorist will end up at Gitmo. During a time of budget cuts, we spend $150 million each year to imprison 166 people, almost a million dollars per prisoner. And the Department of Defense estimates that we must spend another 200 million (dollars) to keep Gitmo open at a time when we are cutting investments in education and research here at home and when the Pentagon is struggling is struggling with sequester and budget cuts… there is no justification beyond politics for Congress to prevent us from closing a facility that should have never been opened.

Today I once again call on Congress to lift the restrictions on detainee transfers from Gitmo. I have asked the Department of Defense to designate a site in the United States where we can hold military commissions.

I am appointing a new senior envoy at the State Department and Defense Department whose sole responsibility will be to achieve the transfer of detainees to third countries. I am lifting the moratorium on detainee transfers to Yemen so we can review them on a case-by-case basis.

To the greatest extent possible, we will transfer detainees who have been cleared to go to other countries. Where appropriate, we will bring terrorists to justice in our courts and our military justice system. And we will insist that judicial review be available for every detainee.

[One remaining issue will be] how to deal with those Gitmo detainees who we know have participated in dangerous plots or attacks but who cannot be prosecuted, for example because the evidence against them has been compromised or is inadmissible in a court of law. But once we commit to a process of closing Gitmo, I am confident that this legacy problem can be resolved, consistent with our commitment to the rule of law.

And I know the politics are hard. But history will cast a harsh judgment on this aspect of our fight against terrorism and those of us who fail to end it. Imagine a future 10 years from now or 20 years from now when the United States of America is still holding people who have been charged with no crime on a piece of land that is not a part of our country.

Look at the current situation, where we are force-feeding detainees who are being held on a hunger strike. I’m willing to cut the young lady who interrupted me some slack because it’s worth being passionate about. Is this who we are? Is that something our founders foresaw? Is that the America we want to leave our children?

Transcript of Medea Benjamin’s interruption:

It’s not Congress. It’s you, sir. There are 102 people on a hunger strike in the Guantanamo Bay prison. These are desperate people. 86 have been cleared for release. You are Commander-in-Chief. You can close Guantanamo today. You can release those 86 prisoners today.

How about Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, a 16-year-old American killed by drones. Is that the way we treat a 16-year-old American? Why was he killed? Can you tell us why Abdulrahman al-Awlaki was killed?

Can you tell the Muslim people their lives are as precious as our lives? Can you take the drones out of the hands of the CIA? Can you stop the signature strikes that are killing people on the basis of suspicious activities? Will you apologize to the thousands of Muslims that you have killed? Will you compensate the innocent family victims? That will make us safer here at home.

I love my country! I love the rule of law! The drones are making us less safe. And keeping people in indefinite detention in Guantanamo is making us less safe. Abide by the rule of law. You’re a Constitutional lawyer!

via Brad Friedman of BradBlog.com

Related Links

Political Punch-ups

Lawmakers of the main opposition Democratic Party react as they fall down during scuffles with parliament security guards in Seoul
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If you’re not fighting, you’re not trying

“In a democracy, people usually get the kind of government they deserve, and they deserve what they get.” ~ Hunter Thompson

I am allergic to politics and politicians. I can never understand why some people like to fuss and fawn over them. At times it’s almost like hero worship, yet they are supposed to be servants of the public. All the scandals about politicians lying and cheating their way through life only reinforce my negative feelings. To further prove my point, here – in no particular order because there is no point trying to choose between them – are some examples of politicians behaving badly.

2013 – Venezuela

Opposition lawmaker Julio Borges arrives with a bruised face to his political party’s headquarters

2011 – Italy

Political fights: political fisticuffs

Claudio Barbato, left, a member of the opposition FLI party, fights with Fabio Ranieri, right, from the Northern League in Italy’s parliament in Rome. Photograph: Ansa/Reuters

2005 – Russia

Political fights: political fisticuffs

Members of the Rodina (Motherland) faction fight with deputies of the Russian Liberal-Democratic party during the State Duma session in Moscow in 2005. The Liberal-Democrats protested what they described as violations in the course of elections to the legislature of the Yamal-Nenets autonomous area and staged a walkout. As they made for the doors, some of them clashed with members of the Rodina party. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

2006 – Czech Republic

Political fights: political fisticuffs

The then Czech health minister, David Rath, in a punch-up with his right-wing rival, Miroslav Macek, during a meeting of disgruntled dentists in Prague. Macek, a presidential adviser and former deputy PM who is also a dentist, broke off an address to slap Rath hard on the back of the head. Rath responded by calling him a coward and the two men traded blows

2009 – Bolivia

Political fights: political fisticuffs

Bolivian opposition congressman Fernando Rodriguez, right, battles with an unidentified indigenous deputy of President Evo Morales’s party during a congress session in La Paz in 2009 Photograph: David Mercado/Reuters

2012 - Macedonia

In Macedonia, violent brawling broke out in parliament over the 2013 budget. Police in riot gear had to be called in to break up the fight.

Macedonian deputies and members of opposition Social-Democratic Alliance of Macedonia (SDSM) rescue fellow party member Vesna Bendevska (C) during a clash with Parliament security as they try to protect parliament speaker Trajko Veljanovski in Skopje December 24, 2012. REUTERS/Viktor Popovski

2011 – Kuwait

Kuwaiti Shiite and Sunni MPs fight during a heated parliament debate over inmates in the US Guantanamo detention centre. Yasser al Zayyat / AFP Photo

Kuwaiti Shiite and Sunni MPs fight during a heated parliament debate over inmates in the US Guantanamo detention centre. Yasser al Zayyat / AFP Photo

2010 – Ukraine

Political fights: political fisticuffs

Ukrainian opposition and pro-presidential lawmakers fight against each other during ratification of the Black Sea fleet deal with Russia, in parliament in Kiev, in 2010. Ukraine’s parliament voted to extend Russia’s lease of a Crimean naval port for the Black Sea fleet in a chaotic session during which eggs and smoke bombs were thrown Photograph: Efrem Lukatsky/AP

2010 – Mauritania

MPs Jamil Ould Mansour and Slama Ould Abdellahi manhandling each other after exchanging insults and profanities during a parliamentary session on the civil status law.

MPs Jamil Ould Mansour and Slama Ould Abdellahi manhandling each other after exchanging insults and profanities during a parliamentary session on the civil status law.

2009 – South Korea

Lawmakers of the main opposition Democratic Party react as they fall down during scuffles with parliament security guards in Seoul

Lawmakers of the main opposition Democratic Party react as they fall down during scuffles with parliament security guards in Seoul

See also: Brawling Legislators in South Korea - Photo Essay – TIME

2007 – 2010 – Taiwan

Taipei reform bill

Taipei, Taiwan: Parliament dissolved into chaos over an electoral reform bill.

Taipei reform bill

Taipei, Taiwan 2007: Rival legislators exchanged punches and jostled violently for position around the speaker’s dais.

Political fights: political fisticuffs

Taiwanese ruling and opposition lawmakers brawl as discussions start on the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement planned with China in 2010, in Taipei. Pro-and anti-government lawmakers exchanged punches and threw garbage bins at each other in a raucous session in Taiwan’s legislature, after the speaker rejected an opposition bid to conduct a detailed debate on the contentious trade pact with China Photograph: Wally Santana/AP

Petition | #HumanRights Org: Stop misconduct of mining companies in #Mauritania

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Please sign the petitions on change.org here:

https://www.change.org/petitions/mauritanian-human-rights-organization-stop-the-misconduct-of-mining-companies-in-mauritania

and on Avaaz here: http://www.avaaz.org/fr/petition/Sauver_la_Mauritanie_de_la_Pollution_Miniere_de_KINROSS_TAZIAZET

We need to urge the government to make these mining companies sustain the environment and preserve the landscape for the future generations. These corporation need to assume social responsibility and take a hand into developing the local communities instead of devastating them…

We aspire to break the government’s shameful silence and indifference towards the atrocities caused by corporations such as KINROSS, MCM and PETRONAS…

By Elycheikh Ahmed-Tolba

KINROSS, the Canadian gold mining corporation (monster) which is leading the Gold Exploitation in Mauritania, has displayed its interest in expanding industrial hegemony over the Tasiast facility. Kinross is considered to be one of the worst mining companies working in Mauritania along with MCM and PETRONAS.  It has no respect for the local people. It has been contributing in the degradation of the environment…

Monday, 04/29/2013, Kinross revealed its decision to expand gold production in Tasiast-Mauritania which will produce 830,000 ounces of gold annually – undoubtedly enough to exhaust gold reserves in the desert. Kinross is acting beyond the limits and mandate of the Mauritanian government…

Our silent military government has turned into deaf ears and blind eyes to Kinross atrocities due the percentages given under the table to the military junta and their lead generals…

Kinross is using these attitudes in Mauritania because of the government’s corruption and involvement in the process of demeaning the Mauritanian population. Kinross has no sense or consideration for CSR: corporate social responsibility…

It’s the burden of intellectuals in RIM to stand up against this monster and disclose its awful intent to ruin the potential richness of the country. We need to work together hand-in-hand to preserve the sustainability of the Mauritanian environment for future generations. —

KINROSS, the Canadian  gold mining corporation (monster) which is leading the Gold Exploitation in Mauritania, has displayed its interest in expending the industrial hegemony over Tazyazet factory. Kinross is considered to be one of the worst mining companies working in Mauritania among MCM and PETRONASS. It has no respect for the local people; It has been contributing in the degradation of the environment... </p> <p>Today 04/29/2013, Kinross revealed its decision to build up a new factory of gold in Tazyazet-Mauritania which will produce 830000 ounces of gold annually which will be undoubtedly enough to dry up the refinery of the gold in the desert. Especially, that Kinross is acting beyond the limits and observations of the Mauritanian government...</p> <p>Our silent military government has turned into deaf ears and blind eyes to Kinross’s atrocities due the percentages given from beneath the table to the military junta and their lead generals...Kinross is using these attitudes in Mauritania because of the government’s corruption and involvement in the process of demeaning the Mauritanian population. Kinross has no sense or consideration for CSR: corporate social responsibility...</p> <p>It’s the burden of the intellectuals in RIM to stand up against this monster and disclose its awful intent to ruin the potential richness of the country. We need to work all together and hand-in-hand to preserve the sustainability of the Mauritanian sole and environment for the future generations.