Spain says more than 800,000 in anti-austerity protest

Updated 15 November 2012
0

Spain says more than 800,000 in anti-austerity protest

MADRID: More than 800,000 people joined vast demonstrations against austerity across Spain, capping a day of Europe-wide strikes and rallies, the government said on Thursday.
A total 819,600 people took part in the rallies Wednesday, which descended into sporadic violence leading to 155 arrests and 77 wounded including 43 police, the Interior Ministry said.
The government estimates are conservative, however.
For example, a sea of protesters carpeted central Madrid and the leading daily El Pais calculated their number at 175,000 based on photographic images and a detailed estimate of crowd density.
But the central government office for the city said there were just 35,000 people in the rally.
It was the second general strike in eight months in Spain, the fourth biggest eurozone economy, which is deep in a recession that has left one in four workers unemployed.
Spain’s protests were far bigger than others held on a day of Europe-wide strikes and protests.
The country’s main unions said millions of workers joined Spain’s general strike and more than a million took part in the Madrid protest to decry an austerity clampdown in the midst of recession.
Portugal held a general strike the same day, Greece and Italy called work stoppages and other European countries including France, Belgium and Poland held protests to show support.
Spanish youths burned bins in central Madrid, shattered the windows of a KFC fast-food store, and hurled bottles and stones at police, who responded with rubber bullets and baton charges. In the northeastern city of Barcelona, youths set a police van ablaze.
Portuguese police struck protesters with batons after coming under a hail of stones and rubbish from them.
In Italy, about 20 activists were seen beating an officer with sticks and baseball bats in Turin, officers and youths enaged in running street battles in Milan and police used armored cars to push back stone-throwing protesters in Rome.
ka/djw/sg/hd


Thai protesters march in Bangkok, police set up barriers

Updated 10 min 29 sec ago
0

Thai protesters march in Bangkok, police set up barriers

  • Government House and surrounding streets have been declared a no-go zone by police for the opposition march marking four years since a May 22, 2014 coup
  • The junta, known as the National Council for Peace and Order, is facing a public perception crisis

BANGKOK: Anti-government protesters began marching in Bangkok on Tuesday from a university in the Thai capital to Government House to demand that the military government hold a general election by November.
Government House and surrounding streets have been declared a no-go zone by police for the opposition march marking four years since a May 22, 2014, coup and have warned protesters not to defy a junta ban on public gatherings.
Police set up barriers along some roads near the university and carried out security checks on Tuesday.
More than 100 demonstrators walked in a line behind a truck with loudspeakers as police looked on, according to Reuters reporters at the scene.
One of the protest organizers, Sirawith Seritiwat, also known as Ja New, said protesters planned to march peacefully.
“I hope they will let us walk out. We have no intention to prolong today’s activities. I think they will try to stop us ... we will not use violence,” Sirawith said.
Police said around 200 protesters had gathered.
“Authorities will use the law 100 percent. If they walk out we will use the law immediately. We have put forces all around Government House ... if they come in to these areas there will be a prison sentence of up to 6 months,” deputy national police chief Srivara Ransibrahmanakul told reporters.
“Police have no weapons. They are carrying only batons,” he said.
Activists complained of a military crackdown ahead of the gathering.
On Monday, Sunai Phasuk, Thai researcher at the New York-based Human Rights Watch group, said two activists had been held incommunicado at a secret detention center.
“Their alleged ‘crime’ is providing loud speakers for anti-junta rally,” Sunai wrote on Twitter.
They were later released.
The junta, known as the National Council for Peace and Order, is facing a public perception crisis, according to international and domestic polls that say corruption is as endemic as ever.
The government has also repeatedly delayed the general election, which was first tentatively set for 2015, with the latest date now February 2019.
Some fear the date could be pushed back again.
Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan told reporters gathered at Government House the protesters were welcome to send a representative to the prime minister’s office.
“The prime minister works hard ... the NCPO these four years has worked every day ... All NCPO members have worked hard,” Prawit said.
Suchada Saebae, 55, a market vendor, disagreed.
“I came since 6 a.m. this morning because I think the NCPO has done a rubbish job these past four years,” Suchada said.
Some protesters held Thai flags and others held signs with cartoons of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha as Pinocchio.
Protests against military rule have taken place intermittently in Bangkok since the start of the year.
Some of them have been led by young activists. Others have been attended by former “red shirts,” or supporters of ousted former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was toppled in 2006 and fled abroad.
His sister, Yingluck Shinawatra, was ousted in the 2014 coup and also fled abroad before being convicted in absentia of corruption.
Thailand has been rocked by pro- and anti-government street protests for more than a decade, some of them deadly.
The military says it carried out the 2014 coup to end the cycle of violence.