Hundreds of refugees fled from the port of Tamatave last week after rioting broke out in protest at education reforms.
Hundreds of refugees fled from the port of Tamatave last week after rioting broke out in protest at education reforms. Martial law was declared in the port on Thursday (December 14). The rioting began earlier in the week following protests and demonstrations against reforms aimed at giving Malagasy education a more national character.
Malagasy newspapers said that rioters appeared to want to attack foreigners whom they accused of being in collusion with the Marinas, a people inhabiting Malagasy high plateaux. Students accused the Marinas of instigating the education reforms. Malagasy's military leader, General Gabriel Ramanantsoa said that "enemies of the people and the revolution" had exploited the situation after about three hundred young people had taken to the streets in Tamatave to protest against the reforms last Tuesday (December 12). Most of those fleeing the riot area were Marinas. There were also a number of Indians and Chinese whose shops were destroyed as rioters roamed the streets with flaming torches and petrol bombs.
There was considerable damage to private property in Tamatave, but damage to port installations, roads and railway lines was only minor because of military intervention. Tamatave is the Malagasy Republic's largest port, on its east coast.
SYNOPSIS: Hundreds of refugees fled from the riot-torn eastern port of Tamatave in the Malagasy Republic last week. Rioting in the port, the Republic's largest, developed from protests against changes in the education system. Most of those fleeing from Tamatave were Marinas, a people from the Republic's high plateaux. They are accused of instigating the education reforms. Martial law was declared on Thursday and the port was placed under strict security.
The rioters, many of them wielding burning torches and petrol bombs, left behind dozens of burnt-out shops. Damage to private property was substantial, but military intervention protected port installations, roads and railway lines.
Some public buildings did escape the rioters. When the towns jail was burnt, prisoners escaped and much of the destruction was attributed to them. Malagasy's military leader General Ramanantsoa said he was aware of the intrigues behind the situation and he had taken the necessary measures to control the disturbances. The situation was reported to be improving by the weekend.
Several hundred refugees were reported to have left Tamatave by air. Others fled by rail. General Ramantsoa said that enemies of the people and the revolution had exploited the situation after young people had protested in the streets against the education reforms.
General Ramanantsoa charged that what he described as certain foreign and some Malagasy elements had aggravated disorders in Tamatave. He said the disturbances had reached a level where national unity was in danger. In Tamatave, many of the refugees were obviously prepared for further trouble.
The educational reforms which touched off the trouble were aimed at giving Malagasy education a more national character.