Police with some of the demonstrators after the arrest
Armed policemen fired tear gas to disperse a crowd of angry small-scale miners who defied their (police) order to stop a demonstration in Kumasi, the capital of the Ashanti Region, yesterday.
Thousands of members of the Small Scale Miners’ Association, wearing red arm bands and chanting war songs, were about to hit the streets to demonstrate against the government for imposing a ban on their work.
Their action, according to the police, clearly contradicted an order that they (police) had issued to them.
The police were therefore left with no other option than to fire tear gas to stop them from hitting the streets.
ASP Juliana Obeng, Ashanti Regional Police PRO, told the media that the regional command on Monday informed the miners that they could only demonstrate in the city at a later date but not Tuesday.
She explained that the police told the small scale miners that there were certain security challenges in the Ashanti Region on Tuesday and therefore it was not proper for them to hit the streets.
Again, the PRO noted that the police did not have enough men at the time to control the about 5,000 miners from all over Ghana who were supposed take part in the protest march.
ASP Obeng added that the police hierarchy in the region told the leadership of the association to postpone the demonstration to enable the police to properly guard them.
She said she was surprised that the miners blatantly ignored the order of the police and tried to hit the streets to demonstrate, adding that the firing of the tear gas was a minimal force to streamline things.
ASP Obeng disclosed that 10 of the demonstrators were arrested, maintaining that five of the arrested people were in possession of offensive weapons and that they would be investigated.
She said the leadership of the association would also be invited to the regional police command to explain why they decided to ignore the police’s order.
An executive member of the miners’ association, Mike Gizo, said even though the intended demonstration could not come on, his group still managed to send its message across to the government.
According to him, they planned staging the protest, ostensibly to tell the government that the continual ban on their operations was having adverse effect on their lives and those of their families’.
FROM I.F. Joe Awuah Jnr., Kumasi