Protesters, including many school students were attacked by police yesterday, when they blocked a highway in solidarity with striking teachers. According to witnesses, the protesters had erected road blocks on a highway north of the Togo capital, Lome.  The police attacked with tear gas and protesters responded by throwing stones. At this point the army were called in and started firing warning shots and chasing the protesters, resulting in many injuries to both protesters and police. 

On Tuesday, we reported that teachers leaders had been violently attacked by an armed pro-government militia as they prepared for a meeting to decide the course of their campaign for a living wage. This fight has been ongoing for many years - at present their pay is so low that they often cannot even put food on the table. Despite the intimidation, the teachers called an all out strike.

Now the security forces have turned their attention to those supporting the teachers' demands - in particular their students. Their bravery is as great as their teachers, since two of their number, one a boy of 12, were killed by security forces two years ago in similar demonstrations.

Togo has been under the tutelage of the IMF, which – in exchange for ‘debt’ relief has insisted on privatisation and public spending cuts. The country has extensive mineral resources, such as phosphates as well as agricultural land, and if these were used for the good of the people of Togo then there would be plenty of money for education. As it is 59% of the population live below the poverty line, as international finance through organisations like the IMF and the World bank ensures that foreign corporations like Premier African Minerals and the Weng Fu Group are able to make mega profits in the country.