South Africa: Murder charges against miners “provisionally withdrawn”

From NPR:

The South African government is reversing its decision to charge 270 striking miners for the murder of their colleagues. Sort of.

The BBC is reporting the charges are being provisionally dropped. However, prosecutors say they cannot completely dismiss the murder charges formally until the end of the inquiry into the situation. This means the miners could still be charged with murder under the apartheid-era “common purpose” law. Until the inquiry is finished, the miners are being released from prison.

The decision to provisionally drop murder charges has done nothing to ease public dismay at the situation. After all, the decision to invoke the “common purpose” law lays the blame for the deaths of 34 miners on the shoulders of their peers, not the police officers who actually shot them.

The logic is that when about 3,000 miners went on strike two weeks ago, the police were provoked into using deadly force to keep things from getting out of hand. They felt threatened, according to police, because the strikers were wielding machetes.

Here’s how CNN describes the incident:

Police spokesman Dennis Adrio said that some of those killed in the clash had gunshot wounds in their backs and that weapons were recovered at the scene.

The fatal incident occurred after negotiations between striking miners and mining company Lonmin broke down and police decided to fence in the machete-armed miners with barbed wire, police said.

The protesting miners moved toward police and were driven back with tear gas and rubber bullets. Police said they resorted to live ammunition when protesters attacked, leaving 34 people dead and 78 others wounded.

No police officers have been charged with the deaths pending a judicial inquiry and internal police review, which could take months.

It’s still not clear why prosecutors decided to invoke “common purpose” law. The doctrine was employed during the apartheid years to crack down on black opponents of the minority-white ruling party. Applying it to the current situation seems to highlight the growing tensions in South Africa over increased income disparity and high rates of unemployment.

In the meantime, negotiations between the miners’ labor unions and the mine operators, Lonmin, are still underway. The platinum mine, which is about two hours northwest of Johannesburg, has been closed for the past three weeks.

South Africa: Arrested miners to be charged with the murder of their massacred comrades

From the BBC:

Workers arrested at South Africa’s Marikana mine will be charged later with the murder of 34 colleagues shot by police, an official has said.

A prosecuting authority spokesman told the BBC that 270 workers would be tried under the “common purpose” doctrine.

They were in the crowd which confronted the police, who opened fire, sparking a national outcry.

Police have not been charged because a commission of inquiry would investigate their actions, the spokesman said.

Six of the 270 workers remain in hospital, after being wounded in the 16 August shooting at the mine owned by Lonmin, the world’s third biggest platinum producer, in South Africa’s North West province.

The other 264 workers are appearing in the Garankuwa magistrates court near the capital, Pretoria.

About 100 people are protesting outside court, demanding their immediate release.

National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesman Frank Lesenyego said they would all face murder charges – including those who were unarmed or were at the back of the crowd.

“This is under common law, where people are charged with common purpose in a situation where there are suspects with guns or any weapons and they confront or attack the police and a shooting takes place and there are fatalities,” he said.

Mr Lesenyego said the updated indictments had already been given to the defence and these would be formally delivered to the accused in court, starting on Thursday.

The conflict at the mine was triggered by a dispute over pay and union recognition, which has paralysed operations for three weeks.

During a visit to the mine after the killings, President Jacob Zuma told workers he “felt their pain” and promised a speedy and thorough investigation of the killings.

Police said they started shooting after being threatened by large groups of miners armed with machetes.

Ten people, including two police officers and two security guards, were killed during the protests before the police shooting.

South African anarchist statement on the Marikana Massacre

From Anarkismo:

Joint statement on the Marikana Massacre issued by the Tokologo Anarchist Collective, Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Front and Inkululeko Wits Anarchist Collective.

The Constitution promises political rights and equality. It is quite clear that the bosses and politicians do exactly as they wish. They walk on the faces of the people. This is shown by the police killings of strikers at Lonmin’s Marikana mine.

ANC THROWS OFF ITS MASK! WORKERS MURDERED!
Capitalists and politicians guilty! Stop police brutality.
No justice, no peace. No Zuma, no Malema, no LONMIN!
The Constitution promises political rights and equality. It is quite clear that the bosses and politicians do exactly as they wish. They walk on the faces of the people. This is shown by the police killings of strikers at Lonmin’s Marikana mine.
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South Africa: At least 18 killed by police during miners’ strike

From Russia Today:

At least 18 bodies are lying bloodied and motionless on the ground, after local police opened fire on striking miners, South African news agency reports. Some of those protesting are said to have been armed with machetes and spears.

­Prior to Thursday’s fire violent clashes had killed at least 9 in the mining town, lying North West of Johannesburg. Owned by Lonmin plc, the platinum mine has been the centre of protests since last Friday, with a stand-off originating over wage disputes.

Fighting intensified over the weekend when two police officers were killed- striking workers and local security guards have also been caught up in the violence.

On Thursday demonstrators were joined by a group of women pledging to stand by their husbands as they fight for better pay.

December 29: 120 year anniversary of Wounded Knee

Gaza flotilla activists were shot in head at close range

From the Guardian:
Freedom FlotillaIsrael was tonight under pressure to allow an independent inquiry into its assault on the Gaza aid flotilla after autopsy results on the bodies of those killed, obtained by the Guardian, revealed they were peppered with 9mm bullets, many fired at close range.

Nine Turkish men on board the Mavi Marmara were shot a total of 30 times and five were killed by gunshot wounds to the head, according to the vice-chairman of the Turkish council of forensic medicine, which carried out the autopsies for the Turkish ministry of justice today.

The results revealed that a 60-year-old man, Ibrahim Bilgen, was shot four times in the temple, chest, hip and back. A 19-year-old, named as Fulkan Dogan, who also has US citizenship, was shot five times from less that 45cm, in the face, in the back of the head, twice in the leg and once in the back. Two other men were shot four times, and five of the victims were shot either in the back of the head or in the back, said Yalcin Buyuk, vice-chairman of the council of forensic medicine.

The findings emerged as more survivors gave their accounts of the raids. Ismail Patel, the chairman of Leicester-based pro-Palestinian group Friends of al-Aqsa, who returned to Britain today, told how he witnessed some of the fatal shootings and claimed that Israel had operated a “shoot to kill policy”.
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BREAKING: Massacre of international activists by Israeli military

troops storm shipFrom Electronic Intifada:

Early this morning under the cover of darkness Israeli soldiers stormed the lead ship of the six-vessel Freedom Flotilla aid convoy in international waters and killed and injured dozens of civilians aboard. All the ships were violently seized by Israeli forces, but hours after the attack fate of the passengers aboard the other ships remained unknown.

The Mavi Marmara was carrying around 600 activists when Israeli warships flanked it from all sides as soldiers descended from helicopters onto the ship’s deck. Reports from people on board the ship backed up by live video feeds broadcast on Turkish TV show that Israeli forces used live ammunition against the civilian passengers, some of whom resisted the attack with sticks and other items.

The Freedom Flotilla was organized by a coalition of groups that sought to break the Israeli-led siege on the Gaza Strip that began in 2007. Together, the flotilla carried 700 civilian activists from around 50 countries and over 10,000 tons of aid including food, medicines, medical equipment, reconstruction materials and equipment, as well as various other necessities arbitrarily banned by Israel.

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