Jordan ‘set to face more riots’

Rising food prices have caused anger and frustration among ordinary Jordanians.

Three people died in riots on Monday at al-Muwaqar prison in southeast of Amman [File: EPA]
Three people died in riots on Monday at al-Muwaqar prison in southeast of Amman [File: EPA]

Food prices have risen and the International Monetary Fund (IMF)  projects inflation of nine per cent in 2008, up from 5.4 per cent last  year.
Limited patience

“People’s patience has limits, and I think that in the coming  days there will be an explosion, a very big explosion, and nobody can predict its repercussions or results,” Zaki Bani Rsheid, secretary general of the IAF, told AFP.

“The authorities are addressing the issue of rising prices in insufficient ways. They are not solving the root of the problem.”

Prices in Jordan have risen sharply this year, with the cost of  domestic fuel up by 76.1 per cent since January and electricity prices up by as much as 38 per cent.

On Tuesday, inmates at a prison north of the Jordanian capital Amman set fire to their cells, a day after three rioting prisoners at another jail died during clashes with security forces.
The riots began after wardens tried to segregate the prisoners according to the crime they had committed, in line with new regulations.
Murder convicts

Mohammed Khatib, a police spokesman, said in a statement: “A number of prisoners convicted of murder and robbery inflicted injuries on themselves and set fire to their cells this morning at Suwaqa prison.”

“They were showing solidarity with inmates who rioted on Monday at al- Muwaqar prison, but police tackled the situation and evacuated the inmates from the cells for their own safety.”

In March 2006, inmates at the jail, as well as the Juweideh prison south of Amman, rioted over conditions. 

An official said the three killed in al-Muwaqar prison died from inhaling smoke after rioters set fire to mattresses. Dozens of wounded inmates were transferred to government hospitals.
Hassan Shobaki, Al Jazeera’s correspondent in Amman, said on Tuesday that the two-day unrest had ended after a psychiatrists and sociologists persuaded the inmates to end their protests.
Pooor conditions
Prisons in Jordan have seen a number of protests by inmates complaining about poor conditions and ill treatment.

“Our clothes … they have not changed them for three months,” said Abu Musleh.

“We are Jordanian citizens … they claim that the country’s budget is not enough, but we hear that the government sends aid to Lebanon and other states.”

Human-rights watchdogs, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, have accused the authorities of torture and beatings in the prisons.

Jordan says there is no systematic abuse and that millions of dollars are to be spent on easing the problem of overcrowding.

Source : Al Jazeera, News Agencies

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