Jordanians take to streets against the crisis: dozens of arrests

Riot police units forcibly interrupted demonstrations in Amman and other cities across the country. Citizens and organized groups took to the streets for the 10th anniversary of the Arab Spring. Demands include an end to emergency laws introduced to combat the new coronavirus pandemic.

Amman (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Departments of the Jordanian police in riot gear forcibly interrupted a series of protests that broke out yesterday in the capital, Amman, and in several other cities of the country, promoted to commemorate 10 years of the Arab Spring.

The demonstrators, civil activists and other groups that have long been hostile to the government and the Hashemite leadership, aimed to commemorate the democracy movement that, from Tunisia to Syria, swept through parts of the Arab and Middle Eastern world. According to witnesses, the authorities made dozens of arrests.

In Amman, agents handcuffed and took away numerous people, who had defied the government's ban on demonstrations and gatherings. Police stopped a group of people trying to head towards the Dakhiliya roundabout to occupy it. Dozens of armoured vehicles surrounded the demonstrators and positioned themselves to guard one of the most important communication arteries in the country.

“This is democracy in Jordan,” one protester shouted. Others called for an end to the emergency laws introduced by the executive to counter the spread of the new coronavirus pandemic. Covid-19, in fact, joined the economic crisis and widespread discontent, ending up even more exacerbating the demonstrations, infiltrated by the Muslim Brotherhood with the aim of overthrowing King Abdullah and the leadership in power.

According to critics, the rules introduced constitute a violation of civil and political rights. The incident a week ago, when six patients with Covid died at the Salt General Hospital - a modern facility 15 km west of the capital - also contributed to fuelling the discontent due to an interruption in the supply of oxygen. An episode that led to the resignation of Health Minister Nazir Obeidat, who said he was "ethically responsible" for what happened.

Local sources report that the protests involved several cities and led to the arrest of some prominent activists. The foal point of the protest was the Dakhiliya roundabout, the heart of the first demonstrations in 2011 linked to the Arab Spring and where, at the time, a demonstrator was killed and dozens injured in clashes with the police.

In a statement, Jordanian Interior Minister Mazen al Faraya said the kingdom will not tolerate further protests, which risk worsening the health crisis even further.

The king and the Hashemite dynasty still enjoy - at least for now - the public support of the majority of the population and the monarch remains a unifying figure between local tribes and Palestinian Jordanians, but the risk of new revolts and protests remains high.