World Peace Update
Humans found a vicious, unsuspecting competitor in fucking the world up this week: Nature, who decided to fart out Hurricane Sandy and hog up all the limelight. So, as Kurds took on the streets of Turkey and shop owners beat up police in Peru, you all kept yourselves busy by running away from the big, bad storm or gluing your faces to the TV, secretly wishing that the Statue of Liberty would collapse and crumble into the water below. That way you'd all have something to talk about, you sick bastards. Unfortunately for all you people bereft of something tragic to kick off a conversation, Lady Liberty is still standing tall, so it's a good thing you've got this column, eh?
I don't really know too much about Peru, besides the fact that they sometimes murder their pop stars. So I'm glad that the next fact I learned was that their market traders are sort of badass. Much to their detriment, the police in Lima clearly only just found out about that, too.
Clashes between police and market stall operators who were refusing to move to a newly-built market broke out last Thursday after the uniforms tried to evict the stall-holders from La Parada, their old site. The city council claimed that La Parada had hygiene deficiencies, but the traders didn't want to move because the new market was smaller and the rents higher.
The traders defended their economic home by setting fire to barricades and throwing stones. The coppers responded with tear gas and live ammunition, which accounted for two deaths and over 100 injuries, including 70 police officers. Bizarrely, the police went on to accuse the market traders of hiring thugs to protect their stalls, but that didn't do much to halt the protests, with two more people ending up dead the following day over the same issue.
Just before the eviction, Susana Villaran, the Mayor for La Paz, was hoping for re-election. I wonder how that'll go for her now.
It's been a long and tiresome couple of days for the Turkish police, who've had to deal with more than their fair share of rioting. The party started on Monday, a national Turkish holiday called Republic Day that marks the establishing of the Republic of Turkey. Thousands of secularist protesters gathered in Ankara to take part in a march, banned by the Islamic-leaning government of Prime Minister Reccep Erdogan.
The frustrated demonstrators tried to break through the police lines that had been put in place to stop their little gathering, but were thrown back by volleys of tear gas and a constant assault from water canons.
The next day wasn't much better, with altercations between the police and the Kurdish community taking place throughout the country. A large number of Kurds marched in support of the Kurdish hunger strikers calling for the right to implement the Kurdish language in education and legal systems, and for the end to the solitary confinement of Abdullah Ocalan, the imprisoned leader of the Kurdish rebel movement, the PKK.
Protesters and police fought running battles in Istanbul and Diyabakir, where Kurdish youths responded to tear gas wth molotov cocktails and stones. These battles mark a new low point in the already deteriorating relations between the Turkish government and its Kurdish minority. With their demands unlikely to be met anytime soon, expect the Kurds to be back out on the streets, raising hell and chucking missiles at any point in the near future.
Italy returns almost triumphantly to the World Peace Update with a week of clashes keeping the pressure on Mario Monti's increasingly unpopular government. This time around, the trouble started on Saturday, when thousands of protesters marched in cities across Italy for demonstrations called 'No Monti Day'.
The protesters were calling for an end to the sweeping austerity measures implemented by Monti's technocratic government, as well as urging them to step down out of power. Trouble was expected in bigger cities like Rome and Milan, but, apart from a few smoke bombs, everything was quiet. However, that can't be said for the small town of Riva del Garda, where Monti was attending a meeting. Protesters there fought with police after they tried to halt the peaceful march, using a book bloc to halt the baton charges.
In last week's column, I discussed the possibilty of a ceasefire, which – called by the joint UN/Arab League envoy, Lakhdar Brahimi – was meant to take place on Friday over the Muslim holiday of Eid. Rather surprisingly, Bashar al-Assad agreed to it, but kept the option to retaliate if his forces were fired upon (as did the rebels). Unsurprisingly, the ceasefire never happened, with battles beginning at 10.30AM on Friday and sweeping throughout the country (although most of the regime's wrath focused on Aleppo and Damascus). The violence during the four day "ceasefire", the third of it's kind, killed over 500 civilians, further condemning any diplomatic efforts to solve the problem.
As all this was happening, another force entered the fray when the Kurdish community and the FSA rebels clashed in the disputed city of Aleppo. While the FSA and the regime have been fighting over control of the country for the past 18 months, the Kurdish community have slowly been taking over the north-eastern parts of Syria, forcing the regime to concentrate on the more urban, central and western parts of the country. However, Aleppo has a mixed population of Sunnis, Christians and Kurds, who had so far managed to stay out of the fighting in the city.
All that changed after the FSA broke an agreement to stay out of the Kurdish areas and clashed with Kurdish defence forces, killing 22. The FSA were rumoured to be close to complete control of the city, but clashes like these will only slow things down in a war where momentum and supplies are key.
Check in next week to see if nature will insist on punching the world in the balls for everyone killing each other the whole time.
Follow Henry on Twitter: @Henry_Langston