2011-08-13 Protests around the world

Syria:

  • The Local Co-ordination Committees say 7-8 people have been killed across Syria so far today: 4 in Homs, 1 in Hama, 1 in Daraya and 1 or 2 in Latakia. Shooting continues.
  • This video reportedly shows Bashar al Assad’s picture taken down and destroyed at Syrian Airlines international sites.
  • Friday’s death toll is being reported as 23.
  • This video shows a funeral in Douma, where five people, including a young woman, were reported killed by government forces on Friday. The crowd is being estimated at “tens of thousands” by Al Jazeera.
  • Thousands are still being arrested.
  • Tanks entered Lataika and heavy artillery was being reported there.
  • Turkey isn’t ruling out international intervention in Syria if the Bashar al-Assad regime doesn’t stop using violence against its own people, a Turkish official told the Hürriyet Daily News on Friday.

 

Israel: 25,000 assemble in Haifa, 20,000 people fill Rager Boulevard in Be’er Sheva, in Afula, some 15,000 people gather, more than 1,500 people march down the city’s main street in Eilat. Haaretz reports. It was the first time in nearly a month that Tel Aviv did not hold a march. Thousands of protesters took to the streets in other cities throughout Israel, with 8,000 demonstrating in Modi’in, 7,000 in Netanya, 5,000 in Petah Tikva, 3,500 in Hod Hasharon, 2,500 in Ramat Hasharon, 2,000 in Rosh Pina, 1,500 in Rishon Letzion, 1,500 in Eilat, 1,500 in Dimona and 1,500 in Nahariya.

Yemen: Hundreds of thousands protested in Sana, and at least 17 other cities and towns,the largest turnout since President Ali Abdullah Saleh left a hospital in Saudi Arabia, where he was recovering from wounds suffered in a June attack on his palace compound, and signaled he intends to return home soon.

South Korea: Continuing the labour protests related to the mass layoffs at Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction, the 4th Hope Riders, a festival in which people around the country ride down to the Youngdo shipyard to show solidarity and support to the crane protester Kim Jinsuk, launches in Seoul on the 27th August. The protest of Kim Jinsukenters its 219th day.

United States: Anonymous has a message for the people of San Francisco. “The Bay Area Rapid Transit has made the conscious decision of ordering various cell phone companies to terminate services for the downtown area inhibiting those in the area from using cell phones – even in the case of an emergency.” They are organizing a peaceful protest at Civic Center station on Monday, August 15th at 5pm. They are calling for non-violence and requesting that people bring and use cameras. They are requesting that people outside of San Francisco, show solidarity by using black fax, email bombs, and phone calls to the BART Board of Directors. Tomorrow, Sunday – August 14, 2011 at High Noon Pacific Time we, Anonymous – will remove from the internet the web site of BART located at www.bart.gov for exactly six hours. That’s twice as long as they shut off the cell phones for. BART decided to cut off your communications and now we will flood theirs. Follow #OpBart on Twitter.

US Day of Rage is posting video guidelines for non-violent civil disobedience in the leadup to their September 17 protests.

Chile: In response to the ongoing student led protests for free and equal education in Chile, Government spokesman Andres Chadwick says Chile “is not going to be governed from the street.” Students have been marching for over two months and are asking for a referendum.

China: Thousands of people in Qianxi County, Guizhou province smashed ten vehicles and torched another five, said Xinhua, China’s state news agency. According to Reuters, “China saw almost 90,000 such “mass incidents” of riots, protests, mass petitions and other acts of unrest in 2009, according to a 2011 study by two scholars from Nankai University in north China. Some estimates go even higher.” “In fact, China has riots more serious than England’s every week,” said one Weibo comment.

Egypt: Brief clashes between protesters and security broke out in an otherwise peaceful demonstration in Cairo’s Tahrir Square where a few hundred people gathered on Friday to protest the continuing military rule.

2011-08-10 A Battle 115ft Above the Ground, part 2: Dismissal Is Murder

2011-08-10 A Battle 115ft Above the Ground, part 2: Dismissal Is Murder

Submitted by paragranum on Thu, 08/11/2011 – 05:17

Dismissal Is Murder: The united battle for labour rights as mass dismissals and violent police crackdown storm in South Korea

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Candles in balloons with the hope for a ‘World With No Layoffs’ in the festival-demonstration ‘The Hope Riders’

A total of 742 people participated in the first Hope Riders. Then the second Hope Riders had above 10,000 people gathering, which ended up being 15,000 people in the third Hope Riders on 31st of July, this year.

Slowly and reluctantly, opposition party politicians started to ride the bus together. Tireless protests have been planned across the country by other victims of unfair mass dismissals to show solidarity with the battle 115ft above the ground. The scale and range of participants grew to a huge movement which no one had previously anticipated. Some mainstream media and politicians coined the term ‘The Violent Third Party’ to collectively refer to the protesters showing solidarity to Kim Jinsuk, who now has stayed over 200 days on top of the 85th crane of Hanjin’s Youngdo shipyard in Busan.

In fact, the ‘Violent Third Party’ was not the third party player at all; the battle 115ft above the ground doesn’t merely expose the persecution of labor rights nor is it solely a fight against the decision of the Hanjin labor union leaders in June, who signed an agreement to accept the mass dismissal with provisions.

Dismissal Is Murder: the Beginning –
The protest of Ssangyong Motors laid-off workers and the bloodshed in the name of public authority

1. Outline : 77 days of fighting against mass dismissal

In May 2009, Ssangyong Motors, one of the largest auto companies of South Korea with over 100 multinational agencies abroad, submitted application forms on laying off 2,405 workers. The trade union declared a general strike against the unilateral mass dismissal in the name of ‘financial difficulties’.

Ssangyong hit back with a lockout and sending blackmail to the workers to get them to register as a voluntary resignation. Several workers died from cerebral hemorrhage and heart attack.

Workers occupied a main factory in Pyeongtaek and started a sit-in demonstration, which would become a 77 days of a harsh fight and one of the bloodiest persecutions of workers in South Korea’s labor history.

On the 15th of July, Ssangyong started to completely block journalists from reporting the scene.

On the 16th of July, MBC news agency exposed a shocking joint plan of Ssangyong-police to ‘hunt out’ the workers demonstrating inside the Pyeongtaek factory. The leaked documents revealed that the two considered spraying incapacitating agents and flying helicopters all-night to deprive the workers of sleep.

Ssangyong blocked food and water entering into the factory, which it confirmed in the press conference in 20th July. It also blocked doctors from entering into the factory to cure the rotting foot of a worker suffering from diabetes and other workers wounded from liquid teargas poured from helicopters.

The battles started to become deadly fights, with armed police and Ssangyong’s hired private thugs in police uniform jointly acting in unrestrained violence to the demonstrators to ‘repress the deforcement’ beginning in 5th August, 4:00 a.m.

2. Police crackdown: The War

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Armed police landing on the roof of the Pyeongtaek factory.

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Armed police beating defenseless workers on the 5th of August. The police force resorted to unrestrained violence in arresting the workers including stabbing with blades of police shields and kicking and beating with batons while police helicopters sprayed liquid teargas and water cannons.

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Injured worker fell off of the factory due to the violent crackdown

According to the inspection report by Korean Federation of Medical Groups for Health Rights, liquid teargas widely poured on the laid-off protesters by police helicopters contained a high concentration of dichloromethane. Dichloromethane is recorded as a second level carcinogen which is readily absorbed through the skin, an asphyxiant, and it causes CNS(Central Nervous System) depression according to MSDS (material safety data sheets), a globally used system categorizing safety information on chemicals. The report also noted that one sample taken from the ‘battleground’ was able to melt styrofoam and vinyl, and some protestors showedsigns of burns.

The police arrested 96 workers among the ‘hunted out’ from the factory, despite the severe wounds of some workers, including broken bones and fatal cuts.

3. How the Dismissal becomes Murder: Fifteen laid-off workers have died since the repression

Fifteen laid-off workers have died since the deadly battle. Among them six committed suicide. According to a report published by Workers’ Institution for Occupational and Environmental Health(WIOEH) in 2011, more than half of the laid-off workers showed PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). 80% of the participants turned out to have been suffering from major depression after the event.

Ssangyong refused to compensate, and filed a damage suit against the trade union members. It also showed no sign of meeting the formal agreement that it had with the trade union in August of 2009, which promises reinstatements of the workers who are on ‘unpaid leave of absence’, as soon as the company revives and enough production supplies are secured.

“Dismissal Is Murder” has become a universal slogan since the ‘war’, whenever workers fight against unfair mass layoffs and corporations’ blunt crushing of labor rights.

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Hanjin is not an exception, and the number of its victims of mass dismissal in the name of ‘financial difficulties’ since 2007 totaled over 3,000 in South Korea, while the number of deaths due to industrial accidents since 2007 totaled over 30 in the Philippines’ Subic Bay.

Press Conference at the return of CEO Cho from ‘Traveling abroad’

Cho Namho, the CEO of Hanjin (HHIC, Hanjin Heavy Industries and Constructions) was absent at a hearing conducted in the National Assembly opened to question the unfair layoffs and allegations of tax evasion at the time he constructed the Subic shipyard. The official cause for the absence was that he was ‘traveling abroad’. He finally arrived in South Korea yesterday, and held a press conference in which he arrived with a helicopter. Police blocked the demonstrators comprised of people and laid-off workers from the press conference site.

Cho stated that Hanjin would donate billions of wons to the Busan (where Youngdo shipyard is located) and to the education of the children of the laid-off workers, restricted to those who would accept the dismissal and ‘voluntarily resign’. Despite the promise of the huge donation, he still insisted that the layoff was inevitable due to the ‘financial difficulties’.

Peaceful progress of the 3rd Hope Riders and planning the 4th Hope Riders

The 3rd Hope Riders, a third festival in which people around the country ride down to the Youngdo shipyard to show solidarity and support to the crane protester Kim Jinsuk, ended peacefully with less violence compared to the 2nd. Although armed police blocked people from reaching the 85th crane, people gathered in a place not far from there and started the festival. The all-night festival composed of public remarks of workers exposing misconduct from various corporations to famous labor rights activists’ speeches. Small rock concerts held as well.

As soon as the press conference announced the official plan of the 4th Hope Riders, arrest warrants were quickly filed to the project team. The official tweeter tweeted the right answer to it: “The Hope Bus not the project team; it’s fueled with the will of people.”

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The 4th Hope Riders launches in Seoul, 27th August.

2011-07-28 A Battle 115 ft Above The Ground: Background #hanjin

2011-07-28 A Battle 115 ft Above The Ground: Background #hanjin

Submitted by paragranum on Thu, 07/28/2011 – 01:36

***Update: 기사 전문에 대한 한글 번역본은 여기에 있습니다. 빠른 번역 올려주신 @makeda2 님 감사합니다!^^

On January 6th of this year, a woman in South Korea went up a jib crane numbered 85. Thirty-five meters (115 ft) above the ground, she declared a war against massive layoffs constantly carried out by one of major shipbuilding companies, Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction(Hanjin).

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The ‘lone protester’ Kim Jinsuk, as BBC depicts it, is the leader of the Korean Confederation of Trade Union’s Busan district, where Hanjin’s Youngdo shipyard is located. She lives on baked sweet potatoes and porridge on the crane, relying on scarce and precious solar-powered electricity as the only line of communication between her and the world. The company hasattempted several times to block food, water and electricity provided to many laid-off workers who have staged a sit-down demonstration around the crane, and people had to desperately protest the attempts every time. Scorching weather heats up the crane to the extent which one can get burned by simply touching it.

Two hundred days have passed. The war got desperate, as Hanjin requested ‘governmental authority’ – that is, support of the police force in blocking the Hope Riders, a mass demonstration in which people around the country come to the 85th crane to show solidarity and support. The 2nd Hope Riders already suffered severe suppression, which became a battle by the police force along with Hanjin’s private thugs armed with teargas and water cannon to ‘disperse’ the demonstrators and prevent them from reaching the destination, the 85th crane.

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Police force blocking the demonstrators from getting to the 85th crane, by spraying diluted teargas.(source)

The war became desperate, and is getting more desperate, but she is not a ‘lone protester’ anymore.

Brief history of Hanjin’s layoff, extrajudicial violence and the workers’ fight for labor rights

Ten years ago, Hanjin layed off 650 workers and carried out a unilateral wage-freeze, without a single effort to negotiate with its labor union. The company denied the workers’ the right to bargain collectively which is protected by Constitution, and went further to ‘judicial persecution’, as it filed a damage suit against 20 major figures in the labor union, including Kim Jooik, the leader. Consecutively, it put the workers’ wages and houses under provisional seizure, which became a brutal economic persecution against their families. Soon, a bunch of arrest warrants were issued. Kim Jooik, calling for the right to bargain collectively and denouncing Hanjin’s violence, went up to the 85th crane and started a protest. After desperate and hostile battles 115 ft above the ground for 129 days without getting any sign of Hanjin’s serious will on non-violent negotiation with its labor union, he committed suicide on the crane.

Ten years later, Hanjin laid off 400 workers and carried out the same wage-freeze, persecution on labor rights. Its official reason for huge-scale layoff was ‘financial difficulties’. But slightly after the layoff, the Hanjin Heavy Industry Holdings, whose holding company is Hanjin, distributed stock dividends equivalent to 16.6 million US$ to its shareholders, which generated public outcry to the corporation’s overt reversal of its own excuse for layoffs, the ‘financial difficulties’.

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A laid-off worker from Hanjin’s Youngdo shipyard crying out his anger and resentment to the corporation’s violence and persecution.(source)

Hanjin expressed ‘resentment’, according to one report, and put forth several absurd claims that “We distributed them stakes instead of money, because we lacked cash.” The average income of workers in Hanjin is only about 60% of that of the ‘Big 3’ shipping companies in South Korea, which made the company’s grumble that ‘its workers get paid so much that it harms the price competitiveness.’

The Fourth Biggest Shipyard in the World – Hanjin’s Subic Shipyard in the Philippines and Human Rights Abuse

ImageSome 500 workers protested alleged working conditions in the Hanjin Shipyard. The workers also went to the Korean Embassy and the Department of Labor and Employment in Manila before proceeding to Subic, Zambales, Philippines. On the 3rd of July, 2011.(source)

“Most industrial accidents are recorded as ‘suicide'”

According to the statistics released in a report, during 2007-2010, official records of industrial accidents contain over 5000 cases, and the number of total deaths is more than 41 in Hanjin’s Subic shipyard.

Subic shipyard has been notorious for having no single employee that Hanjin directly employs; all workers are hired through web of subcontracts which hide the system’s brutality in the complexity. In such a hiring structure, it becomes extremely easy to evade legal responsibilities of employers to their workers, mainly with regards to working conditions and minimum wage. According to a report that declares South Korea-Philippines joint efforts to deal with the Hanjin’s misconduct in both countries, industrial accidents are recorded as ‘disappearance’ or ‘suspicious death’, to avoid providing proper compensation.

Apart from the subcontracts fully exploiting legal loopholes, it was reported that Hanjin actively prevents any establishment of democratic labor unions by periodic layoff in a six month cycle, because according to the labor law of the Philippines, an employer must hire the worker directly and thus take full responsibility as the worker’s legal employer. Hanjin has always emphasized its ‘legality’ whenever it confronts with demonstrators blaming the corporation’s misconduct and human rights abuse.

“They beat us with clubs, strangle us, stab us with scissors at any time. Slapping in the face and shouting abusive language is common. We live like dogs.”

About 20,000 Philippine laborers work there, and they are forced to stay in the prison-like dormitories inside the shipyard. One worker confessed that he once told his supervisor that he wanted a day off to visit his hometown, which was followed by severe verbal abuse, calling him ‘crazyshit’.

The average monthly income of Philippine workers are one tenth of that of South Korea, which is about 300 US$. About 1000 workers are South-Korean, and rest of them are Philippine workers. Most supervisors are South-Korean, who are infamous for their severe racism and wield violence and verbal abuse without any restraint. Trying to organize a democratic labor union is almost impossible, as most of the workers cannot be protected by labor laws due to their temporary positions, in which employers can easily fire any workers who engage in such plans that the corporation loathes.

Leaked material prove the Hanjin-police joint plan in ‘dealing with’ the Hope Riders

Hanjin reacted to the protest of laid-off workers by hiring private thugs to engage in extrajudicial violence and intimidation against active members of the labor union and laid-off workers who have chosen to fight for reinstatement by peaceful sit-in protest. The thugs also have ‘worked with’ the police force whenever there are demonstrations protesting the firm refusal of the company to talk with its labor unions, including the serial mass demonstration entitled ‘the Hope Riders’.

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The Hope Riders is a festival-like demonstration in which people around the country gather up to the 85th crane to show support and solidarity. The illustration is by Son Moonsang.

Recently, material leaked out to the press, showing prior consultation between the company and the police before the 2nd Hope Riders, which generated shock because of the statements from the police. The material directed Hanjin to ‘hire proper people to aid the work of police’ in dispersing demonstrators, flatly indicating private thugs.

Furthermore, an arrest warrant was issued to Song Kyeong-dong, one of the most active people in organizing the Hope Riders, due to his role in planning the demonstration. Song is a poet renowned for his works denouncing the bleak reality of South Korea regarding the persecution of labor rights by corporations and governmental power. In a brief interview, he denounced the warrant that “the allegation that the Hope Riders is planned and conducted by several small ‘third party’ groups is just nonsense. People all over South Korea are voluntarily riding down to Busan purely to show their solidarity, in a completely non-violent manner.” The 3rd Hope Riders is planned for July 30th, this year.

The Hope of Kim: to walk down the crane alive, on foot

In a letter announcing the reasons and goals of her starting a heavy fight, Kim wrote that her goal is to “walk down from here by myself, this time alive, which was the desperate wish of the deceased Kim Jooik.” She wrote that she will change the 85th crane from the symbol of desperation to that of the hope, and she firmly believes she can achieve it. It’s not only just Kim’s battle – it’s everyone’s battle who shares the same anger toward the abuse of labor rights in South Korea and extrajudicial violence aimed at the rights protected by the Constitution, through the Law of Assembly and Demonstration.

She is not a lone protester anymore.

For more information in English:

http://storify.com/wjsfree

http://interceder.net/dashboard/Hanjin

KMWU calls for urgent solidarity support

In Reuters: FEATURE-Woman striker rallies Korea workers from the top of a crane

In CNN: Protesters, police clash in South Korea

In Al Jazeera:
User Story: South Korean Actress Promotes Labour Protest
The Stream – South Korean Ship Yard Battle Continues
The Stream – Hanjin Workers’ Struggle Continues – Kim Jin-suk & Sungmi Park & Precy Dagooc

For more images, visit here.