On Wednesday a fight broke out between demonstrators and police in Madagascar as people took to the street to condemn lockdown measures to contain COVID-19.
Tensions began after an officer allegedly attacked a street vendor, accused of violating an afternoon restriction on commercial activities. Graphic photos of the victim were shared on social media, sparking outrage among residents of Toamasina.
“People must respect the measures taken by the state and things will work out. But the police are severe and they scare people, that’s why people are extremely angry with them, and that’s why the situation in Tamatave is tense”, an eyewitness said.
I am very frightened of the police but challenged by the lack of money, we act as if we were not afraid.
A vendor told that she was afraid of how the authorities operate during this lockdown.
“I am very afraid of the police but faced with the lack of money, we act as if we were not afraid”, she said.
Protesters burned tyres, blocked roads and pelted officers with stones, who in-turn fired rubber bullets. The police have denied committing any form of violence and claim that the victim had returned back home after a brief hospital visit.
Restrictions have been gradually lifted in the capital Antananarivo and in the southeastern city of Fianarantsoa, but Toamasina residents remain under strict regulation.