Archive for the ‘protests’ Category

Thai government demotes national police chief

November 28, 2008

Thailand‘s government demoted the national police chief on Friday after he failed to end a siege of the capital’s airports by anti-government protesters.

By AMBIKA AHUJA and CHRIS BLAKE, Associated Press Writers

Hundreds of demonstrators, demanding the government’s ouster, stormed Suvarnabhumi international airport on Tuesday and took over the smaller Don Muang domestic airport a day later. The capital remains completely cut off from air traffic, stranding thousands of travelers and dealing severe blows to the economy.

Government spokesman Nattawut Sai-Kau said National Police Chief Gen. Pacharawat Wongsuwan has been moved to an inactive post in the prime minister’s office.

Nattawut declined to comment on the order, issued by Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat.

It was not clear if Pacharawat was removed because the police failed to evict the protesters, but it could be because he apparently made no attempt to negotiate a peaceful end to the crisis, as the government had asked.

Interior Minister Kowit Wattana met with police at a precinct near Suvarnabhumi on Friday.

About 200 police, carrying riot gears and shields, were seen outside airport offices, which are about 400 yards (meters) from the terminal where the protesters are camped out.

The airport takeover capped months of demonstrations by the protesters, who belong to the People’s Alliance for Democracy. They took over the prime minister’s office three months ago, virtually paralyzing the government.

They say they won’t give up until the government steps down.

“We are ready to defend ourselves against any government’s operations to get us out of those places,” said Parnthep Wongpuapan, an alliance spokesman.

China: Economy Protests Worry Beijing

November 28, 2008

A string of strikes and violent protests is unnerving China’s Communist Party leadership as it struggles to contain the fallout from the global economic slowdown that appears likely to sharply increase unemployment.

By Chris O’Brien
The Washington Times

In the latest instance of unrest, hundreds of protesters stormed the gates of a toy factory in southern China that supplies U.S. toy maker Hasbro Inc. on Tuesday and Wednesday, smashing police vehicles, wrestling with security guards and breaking into management offices to destroy computer equipment.

The incident occurred as the World Bank announced that it was cutting its forecast for China´s 2009 growth rate to 7.5 percent from 9.2 percent — further evidence that a slump in demand for Chinese exports is hitting the country hard.

Only a week ago, a crowd of about 2,000 demonstrators used axes, chains and iron bars to attack police in Longnan, a city in the northwestern province of Gansu, after a protest over an unpopular urban redevelopment program spiraled out of control.

But the act of rebellion that is likely to cause the greatest anxiety among the party´s top ranks is a series of strikes by taxi drivers that have rippled across the country since the beginning of November.

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Thailand’s Crisis; Government Rejects Army Call To Go

November 26, 2008
Thailand’s army chief told the government on Wednesday to step down and call a snap election as a way out of a political crisis threatening to spiral out of control after a gang shot dead an anti-government activist.
Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat, who has rejected army chief Anupong Pachinda’s call to dissolve parliament, will address the nation on television at around 9 p.m. (1400 GMT), his chief of staff told Reuters.

Somchai returned to Thailand from an Asia-Pacific summit to find tempers flaring across the country and threatening to explode into civil unrest.

A gang of government supporters in the northern city of Chiang Mai shot dead an anti-government activist on Wednesday, the first serious violence outside Bangkok.

By Nopporn Wong-Anan, Reuters
Wednesday, November 26, 2008; 9:39 AM

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Senior China Diplomat Subject of Ridicule, Protest, Curses in Taiwan: Two People from Different Planets

November 6, 2008

He stepped off the plane with a mission: Make history by becoming the most senior Chinese official to visit Taiwan. Sign a landmark trade deal. Draw the wayward island closer to motherland China.

Chinese envoy Chen Yunlin did all those things during his trip that ends Friday. But his five-day visit also highlighted how — socially and politically — Taiwan and China are not merely like two separate countries. They are more like different planets.

While Chen hobnobbed with tycoons and officials on Taiwan’s banquet circuit, he was mocked by comedians, cursed by rowdy street protesters and scrutinized by the island’s aggressive media.

By WILLIAM FOREMAN, Associated Press Writer

China's top negotiator with Taiwan, Chen Yunlin, center, is ... 
China’s top negotiator with Taiwan, Chen Yunlin, center, is escorted by security to his waiting car after being forced to stay for some hours in the Regent Hotel in Taipei, Taiwan, early Thursday, Nov. 6, 2008. Chen was trapped in the hotel during a dinner meeting with ruling party leaders due to a raging protest of over a thousand pro-Taiwan supporters outside the hotel, denouncing his visit. Chen, chairman of China’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS), is on a five-day visit to Taiwan.(AP Photo)

The press dubbed his Elvis-style pompadour hairdo “airplane head.” A newspaper headline asked, “Who knows how much hair gel he uses?”

A popular chant by street protesters who dogged him was, “Chen Yunlin scram!” They unfurled a huge banner from a window at his hotel that called him a “Communist bandit.” He was trapped in a banquet hall past midnight Wednesday by demonstrators who surrounded the venue and blocked traffic.

A nightly TV comedy show that features impersonations of political figures targeted him, too, with a comedian appearing as a stiff, poofy-haired Chen with two thuggish bodyguards at his side and mimicking the slow, stodgy way Chinese leaders speak.

Parody and protests are common in Taiwan’s raucous democracy. They wouldn’t be tolerated in Chen’s communist police state back home, just 100 miles on the other side of the Taiwan Strait. The nation’s top leaders must be respected — by everyone.

Despite the insults and mockery, Chen’s visit was remarkable because it would have been virtually impossible a year ago.

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Beijing Olympics organizers face problem of too many squat toilets

March 20, 2008

BEIJING, China (AP) — Among all the protests, pollution concerns and talk of boycotts surrounding the Beijing Olympics, a more basic problem has arisen for organizers: the toilets.

At the more than 30 test events held by organizers, the presence of squat toilets at many of the new and renovated venues has drawn frequent complaints.

“We have asked the venues to improve on this, to increase the number to sit-down toilets,” Yao Hui, deputy director of venue management for the Beijing organizers, said Wednesday. “Many people have raised the question of toilets.”

The issue came up again over the weekend when the San Diego Padres played the Los Angeles Dodgers at the new Olympic baseball venue. The portable toilets trucked in were of the style used widely in Asia, but rarely in the West.

Yao suggested it would be difficult to change every permanent toilet in the 37 venues, 31 of which are in Beijing. So he said the focus would be on satisfying three groups of visitors: athletes, journalists and the Olympic family, meaning primarily VIPs.

Security guards stand in line during a regular practice session ...
Security guards stand in line during a regular practice session in front of the National Olympic Stadium, also known as the Bird’s Nest, in Beijing, in this November 27, 2007 file photo. Alfred Cheng Jin (CHINA)

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China on balancing beam ahead of Olympics

March 16, 2008
by Dan Martin

BEIJING (AFP) – The Beijing Olympics were supposed to mark China‘s debut as a modern nation that commands respect, even admiration, but instead of that dream, the country’s leaders face a PR nightmare.

In this image made from video and provided by APTN, authorities ...
In this image made from video and provided by APTN, authorities walk down an avenue, Friday, March 14, 2008, in Gansu Province, Xiahe, China. Police fired tear gas to disperse Buddhist monks and others staging a second day of protests Saturday in western China in sympathy with anti-Chinese demonstrations in Lhasa, local residents said.(AP Photo/APTN)

A crackdown on unrest in Tibet has added to mounting pressure on China over human rights and other issues that threaten to tarnish the coming-out party, pushing its Communist leaders into an uncomfortable corner, analysts said.

“This is the worst thing that could have happened for China,” China scholar Jean Philippe Beja said of deadly unrest in the Tibetan capital Lhasa that has forced an army lock down of the city.

“The Chinese and Tibetan leaders are facing a no-win situation,” said Beja, of the Centre for International Research in Paris.

With five months to go before the world’s athletes begin competing here, China’s communist government finds itself teetering on a political balance beam, observers and dissidents said.

Aside from Tibet, China is under fire for its tough rule in the Muslim-dominated Xinjiang region, for restricting press and religious freedoms, and its support of Sudan, which is blamed for the massive bloodshed in Darfur.

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Taiwan criticises China over Tibet

March 15, 2008

TAIPEI (Reuters) – Taiwan officials and the ruling party’s presidential candidate condemned China’s move against rioters in Tibet, linking it to their own island that China claims as its own and has threatened with force.

“As we ook at Tibet, we must think about our own fate,” said Frank Hsieh, presidential candidate from Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party, which favours formal independence from China.

A Tibetan is arrested by police during anti-China protests in ...
 A  Tibetan is arrested by police during anti-China protests in front of the United Nations office in Kathmandu March 15, 2008. Nepal has effectively closed Mount Everest to climbers until after May 10 to allow the Olympic flame to be carried to the top without being troubled by Tibetan protesters, a senior minister said on Friday.
(Shruti Shrestha/Reuters)

China has claimed sovereignty over self-ruled Taiwan since 1949, when Mao Zedong’s Communists won the Chinese civil war and Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalists (KMT) fled to the island. Beijing has vowed to bring Taiwan under its rule, by force if necessary.

“Tibet is a test case for China’s application of the anti-secession law,” Hsieh added, referring to Beijing’s 2005 edict authorising use of force in extreme cases against Taiwan.

Hsieh trails his opponent Ma Ying-jeou from the main opposition KMT opinion polls ahead of the March 22 election. The KMT once ruled all of China and is seen as more mainland-friendly.

Ma also condemned the violence on Saturday, but does not believe it relates to Taiwan, his spokesman Lo Chih-chiang said.

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China Gives Tibetan Rioters Deadline

March 15, 2008
By Chris Buckley and Benjamin Kang Lim

BEIJING (Reuters) – China set a “surrender” deadline after riots in Lhasa that it said killed 10 innocent people, launching a crackdown on Saturday after the worst unrest in Tibet for two decades.
A Tibetan protester pleads for mercy as the police arrested ... 
A Tibetan protester pleads for mercy as the police arrested them during anti-China protests in front of the United Nations office in Kathmandu March 15, 2008. Nepal has effectively closed Mount Everest to climbers until after May 10 to allow the Olympic flame to be carried to the top without being troubled by Tibetan protesters, a senior minister said on Friday.
REUTERS/Deepa Shrestha (NEPAL) 

The response came after torrid protests on Friday which flew in the face of official claims the region was immune from unrest as Beijing readies to hold the Olympic Games in August.

Xinhua news agency said 10 “innocent civilians” were shot or burnt to death in fires that accompanied street clashes in the remote, mountain capital on Friday. It said no foreigners died, and the dead included two people killed with shotguns.

Tibetan law-and-order departments offered leniency for rioters who turned themselves in by Monday midnight.

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Eyewitness Accounts: Anti-China Rioting in Tibet Clashes

March 14, 2008

 There have been violent clashes between protesters and security forces in Tibet’s main city of Lhasa as rallies against Chinese rule, said to be the largest in 20 years, continue.

Witnesses have been describing the protests and the Chinese security forces’ response.  

The following accounts are from the BBC:

“Well it’s early evening here, and the old Tibetan quarter of Lhasa still is very much in the control of the ethnic Tibetans who have been rioting for the last several hours since midday.

Car burning after clashes in Lhasa, 14 March 2008

The unrest began earlier this week

Some of them are still attacking Chinese properties, shops, restaurants, owned by ethnic Chinese. Some of them are looting those shops, taking out the contents and throwing them on huge fires which they’ve lit in the street.

Now I think the big question on everybody’s mind is what’s next? The troops for the time being are still standing there and we don’t know what’s holding them back.

It could be a political question, indecision in Beijing over how to handle this, because if they do move in there could be bloodshed and that could have implications for the holding of the Olympics.”

–James Miles, The Economists

“The street is pretty much in flames. I saw a huge amount of military in the town.

It went crazy all of a sudden. All the Chinese shops were put on fire by Tibetans.

Tanks in the street. Tear gas. I saw people being carried away on stretchers and ordinary Tibetans going crazy.”

–Anonymous eye witness


“We saw policemen, uniformed policemen, which were unusual – we hadn’t seen them in any of the temples in the days before but there were two of them at least there visible crackling into their radios.

As the monks ran down suddenly people, policemen just appeared almost as if out of nowhere and started beating, pulling and kicking them as they streamed down towards the main entrance of the temple.”

–Anonymous eye witness


“I just returned from Lhasa yesterday. I was in Lhasa for about 6 days, and I had just arrived at the famed Sera Monastery to see the debating monks, when they suddenly stormed out of their ‘debating courtyard’ and rushed for the entrance of the temple.

The Buddha Halls were immediately shut in our faces by security officials. Members of our group saw monks being beaten and kicked by the security forces that swarmed all over the temple precincts.

The monks were forced to sit in rows, surrounded by a double-phalanx of riot cops, brandishing clubs.

Our group was ushered out of the temple, and as we headed back in the direction of central Lhasa, we passed incoming troop-carriers ferrying camouflaged army regulars, with other army units marching in on foot from close locations.

All roads leading in were closed off. ”

–John; Tourist


“I was in Tibet from the 6th to the 12th of March, and was also witness to the monks fleeing from Sera Monastery and being beaten by police.

Our group was denied access to the monastery, and we were told that all the tourist access has been cut off.

We were told not to take any photos by our Chinese guide, and there were police staring at us as we waited in our bus watching the monks trying to get out of the monastery.”

–Leslie from Canada 


China chemical plant likely to move following protests

March 7, 2008

BEIJING (AFP) – A planned chemical plant in southeastern China will likely be built elsewhere, state press said Friday, following sustained and rare protests from residents who labelled it an “atomic bomb.”

A Chinese worker wearing safety equipment at a chemical plant ...
A Chinese worker wearing safety equipment at a chemical plant in the Chinese city of Zhenjiang, Jiangsu Province, 2007. A planned chemical plant in southeastern China will likely be built elsewhere, state press said Friday, following sustained and rare protests from residents who labelled it an “atomic bomb.
(AFP/File/Mark Ralston)

Work on the billion-dollar petrochemical plant in the major Chinese port of Xiamen was stopped in May last year amid noisy protests that included up to one million mobile phone text messages to government officials.

The plant “should be moved to somewhere else because Xiamen is short of land for the project construction,” the official Xinhua news agency quoted Ziamen mayor Liu Cigui as saying on the sidelines of the National People’s Congress in Beijing.

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