Show of support for jailed anti-slavery campaigner in #Mauritania

6MayBiramProtest
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UPDATE: 6 May 2012: Protesters gathered outside the Ministry of Justice this morning to demand the released of Biram Ould Abeid

UPDATE: 5 May 2012 IRA campaign has released a video appealing for the release of Biram

Supporters of civil rights activist Biram Ould Abeid turned out on Friday 4 May 2012 to show their support and demand his freedom. Biram is the president of the anti-slavery campaign group IRA. He has been detained on charges of agitating public opinion against Islam for his televised burning last Friday of several books of jurisprudence because they included mention of slavery. He and several companions were arrested in a violent raid on his home on the evening of Saturday 28 April 2012 by police using tear gas.

Campaigning for his freedom is the expected and admirable thing to do, but my personal feeling is that Biram could be in danger if he is released, despite the fact that he already employs several bodyguards, because of receiving previous death threats.

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Thousands at #Mauritania sit-in attacked and dispersed by police

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Photo: Mauritanie Demain

Mauritania’s first mass sit-in arranged by the coordinated opposition parties, activist and community groups following the successful mass march and rally on Wednesday was violently dispersed by combined security forces at 3am on 3 May 2012. After cutting off electricity and barricading the area around the sit-in with road blocks and a convoy of about 30 vehicles, a barrage of tear gas, sound grenades and water cannon rained down on the camp.

Police then attacked and beat protesters as they tried to escape. Scores of people were injured and dozens arrested in clashes that continued for over two hours. The injured included the leader of one of the opposition parties; the director of another opposition leader, Ould Daddah’s office; independent radio journalists;  a pregnant woman who was overcome by tear gas and developed severe breathing diffculties; and a youth with internal bleeding. The police confiscated bedding, electronics, and provisions from the camp site, and were later seen dividing up the food and drink between themselves. Whatever police couldn’t remove easily – such as tables, chairs and toilet facilities – they destroyed.

There are reports that president Aziz and a security detail of the presidential guard were spotted in the vicinity while the attacks were in progress, indicating that he was personally supervising the raid. The Council of Ministers met at the presidential palace later this morning, while police launched a fresh attack on the university, arresting several students. After the Council meeting, there was no mention in the official statement regarding the massive protest or the attack.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P6_Xb5RnyTM]

Update: Seems AlJazeera’s crew were on hand and filmed the attack

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xbUGNRi4Wck]

Calm returns to #SierraLeone mine after 3 die in violence

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Image: Mining Journal

Calm has returned to Sierra Leone’s northern mining city of Bunbuna, following a violent protest amidst a mine workers strike, which left three people dead and at least eight others injured on Wednesday.

Initial report said a woman was shot dead on Wednesday in Sierra Leone after a protest by miners at an iron mine owned by London-based African Minterals turned violent, with police firing tear gas, police said.

Assistant police superintendent Ibrahim Samura denied reports on local radio that the police had fired on the crowd in a bid to disperse the protesters at the Bumbuna mine 160 miles (256 km) north of the capital.

“The strikers were trying to disarm one of the armed police when his gun went off accidentally and the stray shot hit the woman who was in her compound.

“As far as we are concerned, the police only fired teargas canisters to quell the rampaging strikers to prevent them from advancing into a fuel depot where over six large containers are located. If this had been set on fire, it could have spelled disaster for the area.”

Samura said some 26 people had been arrested.

Local media reported the woman was killed by stray police bullets which left many others wounded and that Internal Affairs Minister Musa Tarawally was would head a government investigation into the events. The death toll went up to three after the clashes between protesters and police escalated.

The striking workers downed tools two days ago calling for increased wages and better working conditions and improved medical facilities.

“We are working long hours without overtime at the mines,” one irate miner said in a telephone interview, asking not to be identified. He also claimed foreign workers received preferential salaries and treatment.

A company official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the strikers had on Monday torched a jeep worth thousands of dollars.

African Minerals is one of the biggest in the iron-ore mining industry in the country whose deposit of the mineral is billed as the largest reported magnetite iron-ore deposit in the world.

In November 2011 it carried out the first iron-ore shipment from the war-torn country in 30 years.

After the situation went out of hand, police authorities are said to have sent in more reinforcement to the area to put the situation under control, as youths have reportedly gone on the rampage, blocking roads leading to the mining company’s headquarters.

WADR’s Freetown Correspondent said a high-level government delegation visited the area Wednesday night to assess the situation and hear first- hand accounts of what led to the violence there.

The delegation included the ministers of Mines, Presidential Affairs, Information and Communication, Labour and Industrial Relations.

Police have now admitted using Excessive force but say it was in self defense.

Police reinforcement was sent to the area to put the situation under control, as youths have reportedly gone on the rampage, blocking roads leading to the mining company’s headquarters.

Meanwhile, authorities have scheduled a meeting with the striking mine workers of the Bunbuna mine for next Tuesday.

Bunbuna is also home to the country’s largest hydro electric dam.

WADR’s Freetown correspondent Mohamed Konneh has been closely monitoring the situation and he reports.

Click audio below to listen

WADR / Daily Star

#Mauritanie. Le Monde, RFI, TV5Monde sont satisfaits des réponses d'Aziz?

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#Mauritanie. Le Monde, RFI, TV5Monde sont satisfaits des réponses d'Aziz?

“Mauritania Youth Movement” protest in Nouakchott descended into chaos on Wednesday as sound grenades and tear gas rained down and police rounded up scores of people, carting them off to be detained in cramped conditions without medical assistance for the injured.
 
The activist pictured was injured by a tear gas canister, indicating that police are shooting tear gas directly at protesters, and likely aiming for the face.
 


 

 
Wednesday’s protest was just the latest in a series of daily anti-regime demonstrations and corresponding attacks. All the protesters are unarmed, and apart from the potential to charge them with disturbing the peace, none of them have broken any laws. In a clear escalation of police brutality, there have been many more arrests and injuries than we’ve witnessed in the past 6 months.

London: Taking Fashion Policing Way Too Seriously

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Harriet Wheeler - Fashion Police Victim

An art specialist today told how she was handcuffed, arrested and held for seven hours after attempting to exchange an unwanted gift.

Harriet Wheeler was left “embarrassed and humiliated” after staff at a Mulberry store called the police in the belief that the jacket she was trying to return was stolen or a fake.

Miss Wheeler was finger-printed, photographed, DNA tested and locked in a cell for seven hours before being cleared by police.

The drama unfolded last Friday when Miss Wheeler, 25, went to the New Bond Street store and tried to exchange a £2,000 quilted black leather jacket given to her by a friend. She said: “When I brought it in, it took ages for it to be sorted out. The store manager kept telling me it wouldn’t be much longer. Eventually the police walked in. The area manager then came over with the two officers and said, ‘Come with us’.

“I didn’t know what was going on and when the police officer said I was under arrest for handling stolen goods I was in shock. Then she whacked the handcuffs on me. I was so upset, I was in a mess.”

Miss Wheeler, from Wandsworth, told how after waiting an hour for a patrol car to arrive, she was then “paraded” down New Bond Street in handcuffs to a police station.

“It was so humiliating,” she said. “I was left in a cell for four or five hours and when I asked how long it would be they replied, ‘How long is a piece of string? You could be looking at staying overnight.’ Then hours later a detective breezed in and said they had got hold of my friend, who was on holiday in Barbados, and he corroborated my story that the jacket wasn’t stolen.”

Miss Wheeler said she is a “good and loyal” Mulberry customer but staff assumed the jacket was stolen because only a limited number had been made and one in the same size had been stolen from the store. She added: “It’s been hugely embarrassing. I feel angry and it’s left a bitter taste in my mouth.”

A Met spokesman said: “Following enquiries the woman was released and no further action was taken.”

A spokeswoman for Mulberry said staff called police after being “forewarned that a customer was attempting to return a product which had not been sold by Mulberry”. The company declined to comment further on the misunderstanding but suggested the jacket was not authentic.

Evening Standard.