TIME Pakistan

Pakistani Protesters Storm State TV Station as Fresh Clashes Erupt

PAKISTAN-UNREST-POLITICS
Pakistani supporters of politician-cleric Muhammad Tahir ul-Qadri and cricket turned politician Imran Khan shout antigovernment slogans after storming the headquarters of the state-owned Pakistani Television in Islamabad on Sept. 1, 2014 Aamir Qureshi—AFP/Getty Images

The attack comes just hours after the military calls for a peaceful solution to the political stalemate

Protesters stormed the headquarters of Pakistani Television (PTV) in Islamabad on Monday, taking it off air and beating up the station’s journalists, according to Reuters. The attack follows a bloody weekend in the Pakistani capital.

“They have stormed the PTV office,” an anchor said just before the transmission abruptly ended, Reuters reported. “PTV staff performing their journalistic duties are being beaten up.”

Paramilitary forces and soldiers later secured the station, which resumed broadcasting. Protesters left peacefully.

The storming of PTV came as fresh clashes erupted between stick-wielding protesters and police on Monday morning, just hours after the nation’s powerful military called for a peaceful solution to the political stalemate, according to Agence France-Presse.

Demonstrations against the government have been led for weeks by cricket icon turned opposition politician Imran Khan and outspoken politician-cleric Muhammad Tahir ul-Qadri, in a bid to remove Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif from power.

Khan insists that Sharif’s government finagled its way into office through rigged elections last year, and insists that the Prime Minister must resign, and fresh elections set, before the protests end.

The demonstrations that commenced in normally sleepy Islamabad on Aug. 15 have increasingly turned violent.

At least three people were reportedly killed over the weekend as protesters attempted to move deeper into the so-called red zone, where Parliament and executive offices, along with the Prime Minister’s residence and several embassies, are located.

On Monday, Khan urged his supporters to refrain from further violence in the wake of the recent bloodshed, according to Reuters.

“I call upon my workers to remain peaceful,” said Khan, addressing crowds from the top of a shipping container serving as a makeshift stage. “Do not carry out any acts of violence. God has given us victory.”

Domestic news outlet Dawn reports that the embattled Prime Minister and Pakistani army chief General Raheel Sharif are meeting in Islamabad to discuss the crisis.

TIME Iran

Iran’s Moderate President Loses a Minister—and Some Momentum for Reform

Iran's Science, Research and Technology Minister Reza Faraji Dana speaks during his impeachment in an open session of the parliament in Tehran, Aug. 20, 2014.
Iran's Science, Research and Technology Minister Reza Faraji Dana speaks during his impeachment in an open session of the parliament in Tehran, Aug. 20, 2014. Vahid Salemi—AP

Iranian Science Minister Reza Faraji-Dana, a close ally of President Hassan Rouhani, is impeached by hardliners who oppose reforms

In what amounts to a major blow against the moderate president Hassan Rouhani by hardliners in Iran, the Science and Research Minister Reza Faraji-Dana was impeached on Aug. 20 by the Iranian parliament. The impeachment, which followed months of intense lobbying to prevent it by conservatives and reformists alike, has dealt a major setback to the implementation of Rouhani’s campaign promises of a more tolerant policy in Iran’s universities.

Faraji-Dana, who had been accused by impeachers of appointing professors they deemed anti-revolutionary as ministry officials and university heads, was close to Rouhani. “Faraji-Dana was one of the president’s main ministers,” says Saeed Laylaz, a political analyst in Tehran “He had been tasked with one of the most important assignments in internal politics, but the president’s success in economics and the nuclear talks caused his political opponents to react by impeaching one of his most competent ministers.”

Iran’s universities have traditionally been a center for political activism, one many in Iranian society look at for guidance during elections and other major political events. The previous government of the conservative Mahmoud Ahamdinejad tried to depoliticize universities, especially after the 2009 post-election protests in Iran, by sacking professors and expelling students who were involved in the protests. Faraji-Dana allowed some of these expelled students and professors, labeled as seditionists by conservatives here, back into the universities—something he was heavily criticized for by conservative parliament members.

Rouhani, reacted swiftly to the impeachment by appointing Faraji-Dana as his advisor in science and education affairs. While he urged academicians to respect the parliament’s decision, Rouhani also expressed regret over losing a minister whom he called as a “hardworking and esteemed colleague,” according to the semiofficial Mehr News Agency.

But the impeachment is being considered by some as motivated by more than just university politics. Many of the MPs who initiated the impeachment were from hardline political groups who had supported Rouhani’s election rival, the former nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili, and who also oppose Rouhani’s more open foreign policy. “The success of the impeachment, which had been opposed by the main conservative faction of parliament headed by the speaker Ali Larijani, has now given the initiators the political clout to go ahead with other impeachments,” a source close to influential conservative MPs said, citing the Industry and petroleum ministers as main future targets. “Some parliamentarians also believe that the low level of interaction and communication by government officials with MPs is why some lawmakers chose to vote for the removal of the minister.”

Leylaz, who considers Rouhani’s presidency as an unprecedented historical chance for the Islamic Republic of Iran to mend deep internal rifts, expressed concern over the consequences of this impeachment. “This will create frustration among academics and students, and it will radicalize internal politics and the society.”

Others, however, believe that the debates in parliament on Aug. 20 showed a strong democratic process. “The vigorous debates between rival factions that were aired on national radio show that Iran has an open and free political process. This was democracy in action,” said Mohammad Marandi, an analyst and associate professor at Tehran University. “There won’t be a great change in the ministry policies even though the minister has been changed. What’s important is that such debates can and do happen in Iran’s politics. In the end this was just an impeachment, and I don’t think that it will cause a radicalization of the political process, nor do I think there will be a string of impeachments following it.”

Rouhani, who has three months to nominate a successor to parliament, has already appointed a caretaker for the ministry, and has explicitly told him to continue Faraji-Dana’s policies. But the president’s choice for caretaker—Mohammad Ali Najafi—will likely prove controversial, as he had been previously rejected by MPs for another cabinet post due to being considered politically too close to the same `seditionists’ that caused Faraji-Dana’s downfall. While Rouhani’s economic reforms are slowly starting to stabilize the economy, and his foreign policy still has the firm backing of Iran’s supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the events in Parliament on Aug. 20 show that the when it comes to trying to open up politics and the society, the hardliners intend to fight back every inch of the way.

TIME Crime

Ferguson Erupts Again After Spell of Calm

Peaceful protests in the town gave way to fresh unrest after midnight, as bands of people began looting local stores

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Updated, Aug.16, 3:55 a.m. ET

Tensions flared anew on the main thoroughfare of Ferguson, Mo. early Saturday morning, after hundreds of protestors gathered for a day of raucous yet peaceful protests to demand justice for Michael Brown, the 18-year-old whose fatal shooting at the hands of a local police officer kindled riots earlier in the week between angry residents and an aggressive police force.

Police tried in vain to disperse a crowd of protesters who refused to clear West Florissant Avenue shortly after midnight, according to the St Louis Post-Dispatch. A lengthy standoff ensued. After protesters faced off with a line of police, small bands of people broke off from the crowd and looted a few stores along the street as other protesters sought to block them, the newspaper reported. Police held their line and cordoned off all entrances to the area by 2 a.m. as they repeatedly warned the crowd to go home or be subjected to arrest. A TIME reporter returning to the scene was prevented from accessing the area.

It was a marked departure from a few hours earlier. Until that point, it had been the second night in a row that the protests went off largely without incident. Under spitting rain, protestors gathered along the street toting signs, honking horns, playing music and shouting chants, mingling with uniformed police for stretches of the evening, a drastic departure from the clashes earlier this week.

The shift was spurred in large part by the appointment of a new officer in charge, Missouri State Highway Patrol Captain Ronald Johnson. After scores of residents criticized the paramilitary approach of local police, Johnson has adopted a conciliatory tack, abandoning the heavy weaponry and circulating through the crowds to discuss protesters’ concerns.

Amid the rage vented this week at what demonstrators say is rampant police brutality and profiling, it was striking to see a cop become a beloved figure. But Johnson strolled through the crowd like an A-list celebrity on the red carpet, high-fiving young men and obliging requests for selfies. The captain said that he hopes to turn tensions of the past week into a national example of how police can restore trust with an African-American-American community that says it is targeted by Ferguson’s nearly all-white police force.

“Ferguson has an opportunity to help make positive changes for communities everywhere,” Johnson told TIME Friday.

Earlier in the day, fears rose that the Ferguson police department’s release of an incident report alleging Brown had been involved in a robbery prior to his shooting would rekindle the riots. But Brown’s family and attorneys pleaded for calm, and the crowd at first heeded the advice.

For much of the night, the demonstrations resembled an outdoor festival, with protesters drumming, dancing and singing as they sought shelter from the rain under a gas-pump overhang. Protesters ordered delivery pizza by the dozens, joined their kids as they scrawled on the sidewalk with colored chalk and organized booths for causes like voter registration.

Even celebrities materialized. Jesse Jackson held a vigil, and former NFL defensive back Demetrious Johnson, who grew up in inner-city St. Louis, chatted with local police. “I like the way it is going tonight, just like last night,” Johnson said. “Before, police were making the situation worse. They violated some [protesters'] civil rights and created chaos with their intimidation.” Johnson said he would be coordinating a clean-up at the gas station on Saturday with local high-school football players. “These kids want to be a part of something,” he said. “They want to make a difference.”

Like nights past, crowds spilled into the main street, dangling out of car windows with their hands in the air. Unlike most other nights, protesters smiled and laughed with each other–and for much of the evening, the police as well. But the late escalation was a reminder that this St. Louis suburb may be a powder keg for some time.

This story was updated to reflect events that occurred after it was published.

TIME Crime

Tensions Cool in Ferguson After Days of Violence

Ferguson Peaceful Protest
After several days of violent protests and intense confrontations between local police and protestors, the police decided to pull back and allow the protestors to march peacefully and protest, Ferguson, Mo., Aug. 14, 2014. Jon Lowenstein—Noor for TIME

Change in police leadership and tactics brings a change in mood

Ron Johnson marched down the center of West Florissant Avenue, trailed by a crowd of raucous protesters as he weaved through a scene of orderly chaos.

Hour after hour on Thursday night, a crush of cars teeming with people inched down the main drag of riot-racked Ferguson, Mo. Protesters flooded the street and sidewalks, hung out the doors of their vehicles, climbed up through their sun roofs and onto the hoods. A cacophony of car horns mixed with chanted slogans and blaring music. Men with bandanas and Guy Fawkes masks streamed through the streets, denouncing the police at the top of their lungs.

For five restive nights, this suburban strip has been the site of gruesome clashes between the nearly all-white local police force and the town’s mostly black inhabitants. After Saturday’s fatal shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager shot to death by a local police officer, this St. Louis suburb has been a disaster zone, with violent altercations punctuated by tear gas and rubber bullets.

But the scene on Thursday was a dramatic departure: a peaceful—if extremely chaotic—demonstration that had the vibe of a street party. And some of the credit should go to Johnson, an African-American captain with the Missouri State Highway Patrol who was appointed Thursday by Gov. Jay Nixon to assume control of a situation that had veered badly out of hand. With the change in leadership came a change in tactics. Gone were the gas masks, the armored SWAT tanks and the semiautomatic weapons trained on angry crowds. There were no barricade lines, no cops in riot gear. For long stretches of the night, there were barely any police in sight at all.

But there was Johnson, striding through the crowd in his blue uniform, approaching groups and glad-handing as if the contentious scene were a reunion of old acquaintances. “This is my family. These are my friends,” he said. “And I’m making new friends here tonight.”

Sweat pouring off his temples, he stopped to kibitz with a crowd of teens crammed into a car, interrogated a man about his motorcycle and clapped a hand on women’s shoulders. He was engulfed by the crowd.

“I think we all trust each other tonight,” Johnson told TIME. “Because we’re talking from the heart. They’re telling me what they want and what they feel, and I’m telling them what I’m feeling.”

After five days of aggression and confrontation, the hands-off approach inspired a joyous scene. Outside the QuikTrip convenience store—now a hollowed black shell after looters incinerated the store—a man toasted the assembled crowd with a martini glass. A youth dance troupe called “Diamond Hearts” chanted cheers. Toddlers scampered around in superhero pajamas, and mothers cradled their children and tucked them into strollers. “This is how it should have been,” said protester Richard Harrison of the rowdy but peaceful affair.

“It’s turning around,” said Damon Rose, 30, a truck driver from Ferguson. “You feel like this is now being handled by somebody who wants to hear what you have to say.”

This was the change that Nixon had in mind when he pulled overmatched and hostile city and county cops off a situation spiraling out of control. “This is a place where people work, go to school, raise their families and go to church,” Nixon said during a news conference. “But lately it’s looked a little bit more like a war zone and that’s unacceptable.”

The clashes had threatened to engulf national elected officials. President Barack Obama interrupted his vacation in Martha’s Vineyard on Thursday to decry both the protesters’ violence and the heavy-handed tactics of local police. “There is never an excuse for violence against police, or for those who would use this tragedy as a cover for vandalism or looting,” Obama said. “There’s also no excuse for police to use excessive force against peaceful protests, or to throw protestors in jail for lawfully exercising their First Amendment rights.”

In interviews, protesters pointed to the changing tactics as a key ingredient in defusing the tension. “It is less oppressive,” said Aaron Jackson, 45, a regular protester who lives in a nearby apartment complex. “We have a chance to go down in the history books, in a positive way.”

The community is far from out of the woods. As the night dragged on, there were isolated incidents of violence. TIME reporters met a 21-year-old college student from nearby Washington University in St. Louis who had been punched, unprovoked, by an assailant. His mobile phone was stolen in the attack. The victim had bruises and fresh blood on his face, and several witnesses corroborated his story. He declined to give his name or be photographed, saying he had attended several nights of protests and did not want to taint the fight for justice. A photographer for a local news station was reportedly assaulted as well.

It was a scene one almost never sees in the U.S., a strange mix of order and anarchy, giddiness and anger. Protesters calmly sipped drinks and goofed around on the sidewalk, chanting “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot.” A makeshift vehicle sputtered down the street, its grill adorned with the face of Thomas the Tank Engine and a banner that read “Stop Killing Us.” The festive atmosphere felt capable of curdling given the right provocation.

But after five bad nights it was a big step in the right direction—and, one hopes, a sign of things to come.

— Additional reporting by Kristina Sauerwein / Ferguson, Mo.

TIME Missouri

Protesters Gather Peacefully in Ferguson

A protester shouts as she moved down W. Florissant Avenue away from the line of riot police in Ferguson on August 13, 2014.
A protester shouts as she moved down W. Florissant Avenue away from the line of riot police in Ferguson on August 13, 2014. J.B. Forbes—St Louis Post-Dispatch/Polaris

A steady line of cars driving by the scene is honking and waving at the protesters

(FERGUSON, Mo.) — A huge crowd of people protesting the death of a black Missouri teenager shot by a white police officer have gathered in Ferguson, chanting and carrying signs.

The protests come as the Missouri State Highway Patrol is taking over supervising security in the St. Louis suburb amid criticisms of the police response.

Several people stopped to shake hands with police and troopers. Some have stopped to hug and chat with Capt. Ron Johnson of the Highway Patrol, who is overseeing security.

The scene stands in stark contrast clashes earlier this week when officers wore riot gear. Crowds have gathered since Saturday’s shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown.

The mood Thursday is almost jubilant. A steady line of cars driving by the scene is honking and waving at the protesters.

TIME Crime

Watch: Protesters Hit With Tear Gas and Rubber Bullets During Ferguson Unrest

The violent protests entered a fifth day in Ferguson with little sign of slowing down

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As fresh violence broke out Wednesday in Ferguson, Mo., local resident Mustafa Hussein recorded night vision footage of police shooting tear gas at demonstrators.

The media have had difficulty obtaining footage of the continuing unrest in Ferguson: reporters and camera crews have been kept at bay, and the Federal Aviation Administration issued a no-fly zone over Ferguson, prohibiting private aircrafts, including news helicopters, from flying below 3,000 feet in a 3-mile radius around the town.

In the rare footage above, police can be seen blasting deafening sirens at the protesters gathered in the streets. Shortly after, Ferguson police are shown shooting teargas canisters and rubber bullets at them. The footage shown was shot around 8:45-9:00pm Wednesday evening.

TIME Crime

Photos Capture the Tension Between Police and Protesters in Ferguson, Mo.

Protests and riots have erupted in Ferguson, Mo. following a fatal police shooting of an 18-year-old

TIME brazil

Amid the World Cup, a Violent Reminder of Brazil’s Discontent

A protester jumps over a fire barricade during a protest against 2014 FIFA World Cup in Sao Paulo, on June 19, 2014.
A protester jumps over a fire barricade during a protest against 2014 FIFA World Cup in Sao Paulo, on June 19, 2014. Rahel Patrasso—Xinhua/Sipa USA

One of the largest demonstrations over the course of the World Cup so far turned violent in São Paulo

Antigovernment riots, ostensibly calling for free public transit in Brazil, broke out in São Paulo on Thursday night, turning increasingly violent while the World Cup match between England and Uruguay ended on the other side of town.

More than a thousand people had gathered initially to commemorate the one-year anniversary of a successful protest against a transit-fare hike, Reuters reports. However, such transport protests are typically a flash point for deep-seated frustrations over poverty and government spending.

Though things were at first peaceful — as most of the recent demonstrations across Brazil over the course of the World Cup have been — the protest quickly escalated when groups of masked men began to set fires in the street and shatter bank windows.

It was one of the largest Brazilian protests during the World Cup soccer tournament thus far, and the first to become overtly violent, although a police spokesperson reported no injuries to either protesters or foreign soccer fans.

Most of the demonstrations in the past few weeks have sought to confront a government that protesters say pays insufficient attention to both public resources and its employees.

TIME Thailand

McDonald’s to Thai Protesters: Lay Off the Golden Arches

THAILAND-POLITICS
Thai-army soldiers stand guard outside a McDonalds outlet ahead of a planned gathering in Bangkok on May 25, 2014. MANAN VATSYAYANA—AFP/Getty Images

Imitation isn't always flattery, at least not when it comes to appropriating the burger chain's logo to protest the military coup there

McDonald’s has warned Thailand’s anti-coup protesters to “cease and refrain” from copying its logo onto protest signs or face “appropriate measures.”

The warning came as protesters rallying near a McDonald’s in Bangkok began carrying signs that read “democracy,” only with “m” replaced by McDonald’s iconic golden arches.

“Such aforesaid use of the McDonald’s logo, symbol and trademark was carried out without any participation, authorisation [sic] , acceptance or endorsement whatsoever on the part of McThai Co., Ltd.,” read an official statement posted to McDonald’s Thai Facebook page.

Just in case the chain’s apolitical aspiration to sell burgers wasn’t clear enough, the company added, “McThai has and continues to maintain a neutral stance in the current political situation in Thailand.” Red shirt or yellow shirt, all are welcome to a happy meal.

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