Tag Archives: Protest

Hungarians Hold Second Internet-Tax Rally as Cabinet Unmoved

Thousands of Hungarians took to the streets of Budapest to protest a proposed tax on Internet traffic that they say is unfair and undemocratic, Reuters reports.

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Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government revealed the plan last week. It would charge Internet users 150 forints ($0.66 U.S.) per gigabyte of Internet traffic—companies could write off the cost on their income taxes.

The maximum amount would by 700 forints, less than three U.S. dollars, but for many people, it appears that any tax on Internet traffic is too much.

Internet activists in the country organized a rally on Facebook held in front of the Economy Ministry. The organizers called themselves the “100,000 Against The Internet Tax.”

“The move… follows a wave of alarming anti-democratic measures by Orban that is pushing Hungary even further adrift from Europe,” the organizers of the rally said in a statement.

“The measure would impede equal access to the Internet, deepening the digital divide between Hungary’s lower economic groups, and limiting Internet access for cash-poor schools and universities.”

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The protesters came out on Sunday, brandishing smartphones to light up the building. Some of them went to the headquarters of the Fidesz party and threw computer parts at the building, breaking windows.

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This isn’t the first time there has been proposed Internet legislation thought unfair.

In 2012, websites across the world blacked themselves out to protest the SOPA and CISPA bills in the U.S. that they said would have placed too many restrictions on them in the name of curbing copyright violations.

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Later that year, the European Union’s signing of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), which similarly contained measures to combat copyright infringement online, also generated protests across Europe, after which the EU effectively rejected it.

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The “Arab Spring” protests in Tunisia, Egypt and elsewhere in the Middle East and North Africa were also heavily coordinated over the Internet.

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Budapest stages Hungary / Norway demo

The searches at the Budapest-based Okotars Foundation and Demnet, which distribute grant aid to local campaign groups from Norway, took place on Monday.

The Norwegian government called the police action “unacceptable”.

Demonstrators in rainy, grey downtown Budapest called for an end to what they see as government intimidation of civil society groups.

“This was an attack on all Hungarian citizens,” Marton Gulyas of Kretakor, another NGO under investigation, told the crowd.

Since June this year, 58 groups handling or receiving Norwegian aid have been forced to hand over documents and information in a wide-ranging probe ordered by Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s right-wing government.

The government says some of the organisations supported by the Norway grants – including civil rights groups, corruption watchdogs and an investigative journalism website – are “tied to the political left-wing”.

Police told AFP this week that Monday’s raids were part of a probe “against unknown person(s) suspected of misappropriation of funds, and illegal financial activity”, but gave no further details.

Norway and the civil society groups refute the claim that they have a political agenda.

London Faces Gridlock As Black Cabbies Protest

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Thousands of black cab drivers are set to bring severe disruption to central London in protest at the regulation of rival cab services such as Uber.

The Google-backed app allows users to order a car at the touch of a button, and the fare is calculated using GPS tracking.

But traditional cabbies say this is effectively a taxi meter, which only black cabs are legally entitled to use in the capital.

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The protest will see up to 12,000 cars fill the streets around Trafalgar Square from 2pm.

Transport for London (TfL) has warned of significant traffic disruption.

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The transport authority is seeking clarification from the High Court over whether or not services such as Uber should be licensed, and say today’s action is “pointless”.

Garrett Emmerson, TfL’s chief operating officer for surface transport, said: “A number of taxi drivers are set to cause pointless disruption for Londoners over a legal issue that is down to the courts to decide upon.

“TfL will work with the Metropolitan Police to do all we can to keep central London moving, however, given the scale of the likely disruption, we would advise drivers to avoid the area if at all possible.”

Mick Cash, acting general secretary of the RMT transport union, said: “There will be serious disruption on Wednesday.

“But that will be nothing compared to the disruption and dangers of allowing our licensed taxis to be driven from our streets through a combination of ignorance and greed.”

There are some 25,000 black cabs in London which can be flagged down in the street and use a metre to calculate fares.

There are a further 44,000 private-hire minicabs which must be pre-booked with a set fare and destination.

Uber has been the focus of anger from taxi drivers across European countries, including Spain and France.

On Wednesday Uber announced that a black cab service was being added to its app platform, meaning drivers of the classic London cab can now be booked through the app if they sign up.

Protesters denounce the Dalai Lama as a ‘dictator’

WASHINGTON — Protesting the Dalai Lama? For many, that sounds like throwing eggs at Santa Claus.

Yet on his current tour of the U.S., the exiled leader of Tibetan Buddhism — and Nobel laureate — has been dogged by protesters nearly everywhere he speaks.

Organizers of these demonstrations expect hundreds to chant outside the Washington National Cathedral during the Dalai Lama’s visit on Friday (March 7).

These protesters are from the International Shugden Community of Buddhists, whose devotion to the centuries-old deity Dorje Shugden has been rejected by the Dalai Lama as divisive. This has not only limited Shugden religious practice, say those who revere the deity, but ostracized them from the Tibetan community in exile, which makes its home in India.

“This particular deity is a special deity, a protector deity,” said Len Foley, a Los Angeles-based spokesman for the Shugden community who said Dorje Shugden can offer protection over the course of not just this lifetime, but many lifetimes.

“To take that away is horrible,” Foley said.

Dorje Shugden (referred to by the Dalai Lama as “Dolgyal” or “demon king”) “arose out of hostility to the great Fifth Dalai Lama and his government,” in the 17th century, according to the Dalai Lama’s website. Worship of the deity has “a history of contributing to a climate of sectarian disharmony in various parts of Tibet, and between various Tibetan communities.”

Tibetan leader the Dalai Lama arriving at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota on March 3, 2014.Photo/Jeremy Russell/OHHDL

The current Dalai Lama, now 78, was born in a poor Tibetan village and given the name Tenzin Gyatso. He is believed by Tibetan Buddhists to be the reincarnation of the 13th Dalai Lama, and until three years ago was the head of the Tibetan government in exile.

A critical book on the Dalai Lama published by the Shugden community is entitled “The False Dalai Lama,” and subtitled “The Worst Dictator in the Modern World.” Recent signs and chants outside the Dalai Lama’s speaking engagements in California accused him of trampling on the community’s religious freedom.

Members said they can’t get government jobs in India because of their beliefs, and that their nuns and monks have been kicked out of monasteries.

Foley and others want the Dalai Lama to “lift the ban” on rituals involving Dorje Shugden. Supporters of the Dalai Lama said he hasn’t banned any practice — and that Buddhism does not allow for such a restriction.

According to the Dalai Lama’s website, though the Buddhist leader once practiced rituals associated with the deity himself, he has “strongly discouraged” them since 1975.

The fifth Dalai Lama denounced the deity as a “malevolent spirit,” and unchecked devotion to the spirit runs the risk of morphing into “cult-like practices,” the website says.

Robert Thurman, a scholar of Tibetan Buddhism at Columbia University, has written that the Shugden community is backed by the Dalai Lama’s foes in Beijing; China has rejected the Dalai Lama’s quest for greater autonomy for Tibetans within China.

Foley said Thursday that the protests are funded by the protesters, not outsiders.

Bosnia-Hercegovina protests break out in violence

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Demonstrators in Bosnia-Hercegovina have set fire to government buildings, in the worst unrest since the end of the 1992-95 war.

Hundreds of people have been injured in three days of protests over high unemployment and perceived inability of politicians to improve the situation.

Police used rubber bullets and tear gas to quell unrest in the capital Sarajevo and the northern town of Tuzla.

Black smoke could be seen coming from the presidency building in Sarajevo.

In Bosnia the legacies of the war mean that few even hope for change anymore. For this reason, anger has been simmering for years, but now it has boiled over” Tim JudahBalkan affairs analyst

Sarajevo-based newspaper Dnevni Avaz says police used water to disperse the protesters who were throwing stones at the building. There were also reports of an attempted storming of the office.

A protester stands near a fire set in front of a government building in Tuzla February 7, 2014

On Thursday, clashes between police and demonstrators in Tuzla injured more than 130 people, mostly police officers.

“People protest because they are hungry, because they don’t have jobs. We demand the government resign,” Nihad Karac, a construction worker, told the AFP.

About 40% of Bosnians are unemployed.

The unrest began in Tuzla earlier in the week, with protests over the closure and sale of factories which had employed most of the local population.

Bosnian protestors try to storm a local government building in the Bosnian capital Sarajevo, on February 7, 2014.

Demonstrators in other towns, including Mostar, Zenica and Bihac, supported the Tuzla workers and criticised the government for failing to tackle the rampant unemployment.

Hundreds of people also gathered in support in the Bosnian Serb capital, Banja Luka.

Local media are reporting that the premiers of two of Bosnia’s cantons – Sead Causevic of Tuzla canton and Munib Husejnagic of Zenica-Doboj canton – are to resign.

Protesters storm a local government building in the northern Bosnian town of Tuzla on February 7, 2014

Exasperation’

The BBC’s Balkans correspondent Guy De Launey says exasperation at years of inertia and incompetence in Bosnia is at the root of the protests.

Bosnia-Hercegovina is made up of two separate entities: a Bosniak-Croat Federation of Bosnia and Hercegovina, and the Bosnian Serb Republic, or Republika Srpska, each with its own president, government, parliament, police and other bodies.

The complex administrative framework and deep divisions have led to political stagnation and vulnerability to corruption.

The current chairman of the Bosnian presidency, Zeljko Komsic, said that politicians were to blame for the protests.

The problem “has been accumulating for several years, but the situation now escalated,” he told FTV.

He was also quoted as saying he would be calling an urgent meeting of the top leadership.

Bosnia draws back from unrest, protesters vow to persist

A protester speaks to a police officer in front of a government building in Sarajevo February 8, 2014. REUTERS-Antonio Bronic

(Reuters) – Bosnia drew back on Saturday from three days of unprecedented unrest over unemployment, political paralysis and corruption that for some brought back painful memories of the Balkan country’s 1992-95 war.

Small protests were held in the capital, Sarajevo, in northwestern Bihac, where protesters threw stones at the home of the head of the cantonal government, Mostar in the west and the central town of Bugojno.

But there was little sign of the kind of rioting that has left hundreds of people injured, most of them police officers.

Police in Mostar were out in force, stopping and checking cars entering the town, which is divided at the Neretva river between Croats and Muslim Bosniaks. In Tuzla, epicentre of the demonstrations, dozens helped clear debris from the gutted building of the local government.

“I’m glad we did it,” said Sanela Fetic, an unemployed 35-year-old who took part in both the protests and the clean-up.

“Now we’ll clean up this mess, like we’ll clean up the politicians who made this happen.”

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<p>              Bosnian police forces secure the entrance as protesters stoned a local government building in the Bosnian town of Tuzla, 140 kms north of Sarajevo, Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014. Several hundred protesters clashed with police as they tried to storm into the building of the local government and confront the officials there whom they blame for allowing the city's major state-owned companies to go bankrupt after dubious privatizations. (AP Photo/Darko Zabus)</p><br />
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The unrest began on Wednesday in Tuzla, when anger over factory closures in the once-healthy industrial hub turned violent, spreading by Friday to Sarajevo and other towns.

For years, fear of a return to conflict has kept a lid on anger over the dire state of the Bosnian economy and the inertia of a political system in which power is divvied up along ethnic lines.

In Sarajevo, protesters set fire to the Bosnian presidency building and the seat of the cantonal government, with part of Bosnia’s national archive lost in the flames.

Special police forces keep Sarajevo Canton administration building during a demonstration in Sarajevo, Bosnia - Herzegovina

The presidency, with its three members from Bosnia’s Serb, Croat and Muslim Bosniak communities, has become symbolic of the division and dysfunction of the former Yugoslav republic.

Sarajevans streamed past the charred buildings. Broken glass crunched under foot and chairs hurled from offices by protesters lay strewn on the ground.

To some, the scenes were uncomfortably reminiscent of the wartime siege of the city by Bosnian Serb forces in surrounding hills, a 43-month bombardment that claimed more than 10,000 of the estimated 100,000 lives lost in the war.

“I’m struggling not to cry,” said Enisa Sehic, 46, an economist. “This is like a flashback to the not so distant past.”

“LET IT BURN”

The agreement ending the war created a highly decentralised and unwieldy system of government, splitting the country into two autonomous republics joined by a weak central authority. One half, the mainly Bosniak and Croat Federation, is split again into 10 cantons, each with its own prime minister and cabinet ministers.

The apparatus is hugely expensive and feeds networks of patronage political parties from each side are reluctant to give up.

The former warring sides have little common vision of Bosnia’s future. While Bosniak leaders want greater centralisation, Croat hardliners are pressing for their own entity, while Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik says he sees no future for Bosnia at all.

With governance frequently hostage to ethnic politics, the economy has struggled to keep up with its ex-Yugoslav peers. More than one in four of the Bosnian workforce is jobless.

Failure to reform the constitution to open up high-level state jobs – such as the presidency – to those not from Bosnia’s three main communities has frozen the country’s bid to become a member of the European Union, which neighbouring Croatia joined last year.

Some Sarajevans argued that force was the only language their leaders would understand.

“This had to happen. If they were smart, it wouldn’t have,” said 56-year-old Mirsad Dedovic.

“Part of me was sorry when I saw what was happening yesterday. But then again, let it burn.”

Calls went out on Facebook for country-wide protests at midday (1100 GMT) on Monday.

The United States, which brokered the 1995 Dayton peace deal, and the EU that Bosnia wants to join, have proven helpless in prodding the country’s divided political leaders toward reform and greater centralisation.

On Saturday, the head of the Sarajevo cantonal government, Suad Zeljkovic, joined his counterpart from Tuzla in resigning, Fena news agency reported. But it was unclear if the unrest would have any greater political consequences, or serve as a wake-up call for the national leadership.

“This is about 20 years of accumulated rage coming to the surface, and it’s very difficult to assess what will happen next,” political analyst Enver Kazaz told the Bosnian daily Dnevni Avaz.

“The protesters come mostly from a generation of youngsters without hope, whose future has practically been taken away from them.”

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