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POLICE RIOT IN PORT OF SPAIN

posted 12 Jan 2010, 22:23 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 12 Jan 2010, 22:28 ]
 
POLICE RIOT IN PORT OF SPAIN
 
PROTESTERS BEATEN; ABDULAH ARRESTED

On Friday 18th December 2009, riot police attacked members of the trade union movement and the People's Democracy who were picketing the Trinidad and Tobago parliament during the debate on the much-reviled property tax bill. Several of the dozens of protesters were beaten by police who were heavily armed with machine guns, batons, tear gas and tasers.

President of the Federation of Trade Unions and NGOs David Abdulah was arrested and charged for obstruction in violation of the Highways Act. He was released on his own bail. He appeared in court on Monday 21st. His matter has been adjourned to January.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Police beating peaceful protesters in Port of Spain - 18th December 2009
 
This virtual police riot in the heart of Port of Spain is but the latest example of a trend on the part of the State to suppress the freedom of assembly and the right to free expression on the part of the citizens of the Republic.

One
commentator stated: "…in a country that, on the surface, appears to enjoy such a progressive legal framework, we have had a sustained assault over the years on the very freedom of assembly. In the immediate past there have been the attempt to shut down the Drumit at St. James and the march in POS organised by the trade unions during the Summit of the Americas

Since then the police have, on more than one occasion, attempted to stop the One Voice group from assembling; the president of the industrial court has suggested to trade unions that they do not picket the court; trade union pickets inevitably attract police officers who attempt to disperse them. The police attempted to stop the press conference held by the group of trade unions and NGO's outside the Red House… and actually refused permission for the march commemorating the Jahaji Massacre. It is clear that freedom of Assembly is under attack.”

To this litany of viol
ations, we must add the banning of the La Brea Concerned Citizens from staging their anti-smelter skit at the so-called People’s Space during the recently held Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Port of Spain.

The police action has been met with widespread indignation among citizens of the country. It has sharpened the focus on the
property tax, raised the political temperature and brought the question of the right to assemble and the right to free expression squarely before the national community. We have certainly not heard the end of this.
 
OWTU: WE WILL NOT BE INTIMIDATED!
 
 In a media release issued on December 23rd, the Oilfields Workers' Trade Union stated:"The OWTU condemns in the strongest possible terms the actions taken by the police against peaceful protestors last Friday the 18th December, 2009 outside Parliament during the Property Tax Debate. The OWTU further condemn the arrest of our General Secretary of our Union, David Abdulah and views the recent statements made by the Acting Commissioner of Police, James Philbert as inconsistent, contradictory, bias and without merit"...more
   
BRITISH TUC CONDEMNS POLICE RIOT
  
Brendan Barber, the General Secretary of the British Trades Union Congress has wtitten to the Trinidad and Tobago High Commissioner in London protesting the assault on and arrest of trade unionists picketing the Red House in Port of Spain on Friday 18th December...more
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