Friday, February 18, 2011

Polytechnic Students Protesting Right Now

Students from the polytechnic- a constituent college of the University of Malawi- are protesting in front of the administration block right now.
 Observers say Malawi is turning into a police state, as government uses police officers to silence dissent
The students have, among other things, set tree branches alight, and are shouting on top of their voices.
So far, they have done nothing to the college bus stionally some ten metres away.
There is no physical violence as well; just some shouts on top of their voices, and the sense tha nobody- as not even police officers and school officials- is listening.
Yesterday, 13 of their colleagues were picked up by police- ostensibly for causing damage to property.
The students run amok early yesterday, blocking the Masauko Chipembere Highway and pelting stones at vehicles.
This prompted police officers to extent the handcuff along with the arm, netting 13 students in the process.
The students are protesting against delays in the provision of book and stationary allowances. This follows delays by the Malawi Savings Bank to release the same.
In Zomba, Malawi's old capital, students demonstrated against the 'picking up' by police of a renowned science lecturer, Blessings Chinsinga, apparently because he told students the demonstrations in the Middle East- which have, among other leaders, influenced the resignation of Hosni Mubarak of Egypt and his Tunisian counterpart- were partly influenced by fuel shortages.
Malawi is in the midst of a fuel crisis of sorts, and government officials feared that the observation by Chinsinga could trigger Middle-East like demonstrations, according to a senior police officer in the Eastern region.
Observers have condemned President Bingu wa Mutharika's government for gagging intelectual and freedom of expression.
His government recently empowered the Minister of Information and Civic Education to ban any publication viewed as not being in the public interest.
This has angered Malawian editors.

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