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Riot against police and poverty

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Issue 1746


Riot against police and poverty

RIOTS ROCKED Algeria in north Africa last week after young people from the country’s Berber ethnic minority rose in fury against police brutality. For almost a week all the main towns in the Kabylie region of Algeria saw clashes with police and attacks on government buildings. Around 40 people had been killed by police by the start of this week.

Rioters threw up barricades of burning tyres and blocked main roads into the region from the country’s capital, Algiers. The immediate spark for the riots was the killing of a youth who had been detained in a police station.

Those incidents followed huge marches the week before across Kabylie on the 21st anniversary of the “Berber Spring”. This was the 1980 rising, and its violent repression by the Algerian state, which marked the birth of the demand by Berbers that their language and culture is recognised.

The majority of Algerians are Arabic speaking, while around a fifth are Berber speakers who live mainly in the Kabylie region. The army seized power in a coup in 1992 and has fought a ruthless civil war against Islamist oppositionists. Kabylie has been at the centre of opposition both to the regime and to Islamist forces.

Commentators say that the latest revolt is fuelled as much by anger at austerity measures imposed to satisfy Western bankers as it is by the fight for rights for the Berber minority.


South is also part of global wave of protest

ONE OF India’s most important cities was shut down by a general strike on Wednesday of last week. Millions of people stayed at home in Bombay as unions and political parties called protests against globalisation and privatisation. The Indian government is pushing ahead with a World Trade Organisation plan which could see cheap imports flood the country, devastating many local industries and farmers.

It is also pushing through laws to make it easier for companies to sack workers, and is driving ahead with a privatisation programme. Last week’s strike across the Indian state of Maharashtra once again gives the lie to those who claim that protests against globalisation are the preserve of people in richer industrialised countries. While the strike was directed against the right targets, it was organised by an unholy political alliance.

As well as trade unions and left wing parties such as the Communist Party, it was backed by the Shiv Sena party. This is a right wing Hindu chauvinist organisation. It is hoping to build a base by fighting privatisation and attacks on workers. But it also seeks to scapegoat India’s Muslim minority.

Why I’m voting socialist

“I AM a 50 year old bus driver and trade unionist, and have voted Labour all my life. But with New Labour and their broken promises I needed to find a party worth voting for that cares for me, the human being and trade unionist, and knows that privatisation in any form is not in the public interest. That is why I will be voting Socialist Alliance, this time and in the future.”

  • RICHARD DUFFIELD, bus driver and chair TGWU 1/817 branch (personal capacity)

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