High school students in Gabon have been attacked by police with tear gas as they marched again in support of their teachers. Several young people were arrested as they marched peacefully in towns throughout the country, including the capital Libreville, demanding that the government concede to their teachers' demands for a living wage and for more classrooms. The students are also demanding the repeal of education reforms which would make it more difficult for them to obtain their baccalaureate exam. Such changes are impossible in the current state of Gabonese education.

The teachers have been on strike for weeks and the government's response - both to the teachers and to their pupils - has been brutal. Last month there were reports that children as young as eleven had been attacked by police as they peacefully protested.

As we reported last month: With the help of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, Gabon - which has rich oil reserves and the second biggest area of forest in Africa - is open for business. The country is ruled, after a disputed election, by the second member of the Bongo dynasty - Ali Bongo - who according to reports has huge wealth while a third of the people live in abject poverty. According to one report, the Special Economic Zones (SEZ) in the country: 

. . .  offer a number of advantages to investors, including full exemption from tax for the first ten years, and then concessional tax of 10% for the next five years. They are also fully exempted from custom fees and duties on imported materials, such as machinery, and the export of manufactured products. Furthermore, investors are exempted from paying Value Added Tax (VAT).

Investors also benefit from relaxed labour laws and a 50% reduction in the price of power compared to the electricity costs existing in the nearby capital city of Libreville.

Gabon also has an SEZ for its mining and oil and gas industries, according to Ndoye. The 1,500 hectare Mandji Tax Free Zone near Gabon’s oil capital, Port-Gentil, offers similar benefits for investors

Meanwhile, children, out on the streets demanding an education and bravely standing up for their right to demonstrate and protest, are being attacked by the Bongo dictatorship.