Panic on the streets of London Bangkok, Chisanu, Colombo
Lots of talk about protest today- not least the shocking footage that the Guardian’s got hold of, showing riot police shoving Ian Tomlinson to the ground shortly before he died of a heart attack. Some witnesses are saying that he has already been assaulted by the police prior to this – I hope that the full details are brought to light (and that the media realises it can’t just take the police’s account of such incidents at face value, as Duncan Campbell points out today).
On the streets of Bangkok, protesters loyal to former PM Thaksin Shinawatra have surrounded the home of a royal advisor, accusing him of organising the coup which brought about Thaksin’s downfall. The BBC is reporting that about 30,000 members of the red-t-shirt-wearing United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) are out on the streets, demanding the resignation of current PM Abhisit Vejjajiva.
This is nothing compared to Moldova, where protesters have stormed the parliament and the presidents’ offices. The FT reports that security forces have regained control, after riots broke out when the Communist Party won a slender majority in the Moldovan elections (ehich were deemed to be free and fair, incidentally).
And here in London we have entered Day Three of protests outside parliament by Tamils, calling on the UK to intervene in the conflict in the north of Sri Lanka. AFP reports that the protests are now petering out, but had peaked at around 3,000 people on Monday.
We’re pleased that the humanitarian crisis in Sri Lanka has been forced back onto the media agenda – we were able to get our message out on BBC TV and radio yesterday on the back of the protests. Given that the Sri Lankan authorities have done their utmost to keep the conflict hidden by banishing foreign journalists and human rights observers and gagging domestic media, there is a real danger that the fate of the 150,000 civilians caught between the government forces and the Tamil Tigers will go unnoticed.
We urgently need a humanitarian truce to be declared to allow food and medicine to get in and civilians to get out. And with the authorities confident that they will soon defeat the Tigers militarily, they are unlikely to relent unless the UN Security Council passes a resolution insisting that they do so. Predictably enough, the UNSC has failed to pass any such resolution. More protests may clearly be needed.
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