Thursday, 24 January 2008

Lebanon—Popular power III

The strike is in protest at "starvation and humiliation".

Taxi drivers argue with a colleague to join the strike.

Workers set fire to tires during an attempt to block main roads.

The unions have cancelled demonstrations. There are reports that thugs belonging to the ruling M14 alliance are roaming the streets in an attempt to intimidate the strikers.

Latest information indicate that the Christian areas of Ashrafieh and Ras al-Naab'a, in east Beirut, have heeded the strike call, while around one third of the areas under the control of the US-backed Future Current are out.

The AP reports:
Workers complied with the strike differently from area to area, according to their political affiliation and whether they support Saniora's government or the Hezbollah-led opposition. Some unions have also broken away from the labor union federation and opted not to join the strike.

In areas where support for Hezbollah is strong, in south Beirut, southern Lebanon and the northeastern parts of the inland Bekaa Valley, union activists closed roads and some tried to set tires ablaze before security forces moved in and stopped them.

But in coastal cities like Sidon and Tripoli, with strong pro-government backing, life seemed normal. In Tripoli in the north, dozens of protesters gathered at the central Tal Square, only to disperse peacefully half an hour later. Traffic on highway entrances to Beirut also flowed normally.

In the northeastern Bekaa village of Nabi Othman, a 9-year-old boy was slightly wounded by a bullet in the shoulder when a security agent heading to work opened fire in the air as he tried to clear a closed road to pass through, security officials said speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the press.

*This information is awaiting confirmation