All over the globe people are rising up and demanding their rights in a worldwide rally of discontent as protests inspired by the Occupy Wall Street movement spread around the world on Saturday.
The website for the international movement says 951 cities in 87 countries are ready to “Unite for Global Change” – the official slogan of the rally.
“It’s time for us to unite. It’s time for them to listen. People of the world, rise up!” calls the site.
And indeed, there is a lot to protest against in every part of the world. While social and economic inequality, corporate greed, poverty and hardship are key grievances in every country, each continent lends its own special flavor to the rallies.
About 200 people have marched outside Tokyo Electric Power company, which operates the tsunami-hit Fukushima plant, showing their dissatisfaction over handling of the nuclear disaster. Their slogans also targeted a US-led free trade bloc that Japan is considering joining.
Japan, Tokyo : A masked protestor holds a sign during a rally “Occupy Tokyo” as part of a worldwide protest inspired by the “Occupy Wall Street” protest in Tokyo on October 15, 2011. (AFP Photo / Yoshikazu Tsuno)
Around 300 people took to the streets of the Australian cities of Melbourne and Sydney. The country’s indigenous issues and government problems were among their grievances.
In Manila, about 100 members of various groups under the Philippine left-wing umbrella group, Bayan, marched on the US Embassy, according to Associated Press. Amongst other things, demonstrators chanted “US troops, out now!” – a reference to the presence of hundreds of US soldiers involved in training Filipino troops.
In South Korea, though, protesters stressed they are not rallying against their government but had come out entirely in support of the Occupy Wall Street movement.
While the situation in Asia is not catastrophic, recent financial reports suggest this part of the world is not immune to contagion from the deteriorating economic conditions in the West. And recession is very likely to hit Asia eventually.
The protests are sure to be embraced enthusiastically in Europe. Demonstrators are expected to focus on unemployment and austerity cuts imposed in exchange for EU and IMF bailouts.
RT’s Ivor Bennett reports from London that protests there are passing off peacefully.
Participants carrying bags of food, tents and sleeping bags have taken their protest to central London’s financial district where they will rally outside the Stock Exchange, the Bank of England and St. Paul’s Cathedral.
The demonstrators have not been able to reach the site they intended to occupy as Paternoster Square has been sealed off by police and private security.
The protests have been organized via pages on Facebook and Twitter which between them have picked up more than 15,000 followers.
“Five thousand people have confirmed they are attending the event,” Spyro Van Leemnen, who is taking part in the protest, told RT.
“This movement will grow and grow, as in the United States,” journalist and writer Afshin Rattansi also told RT.
As RT’s correspondent reports, people “are very serious” and they plan to stay here for a long time. “We are planning to stay here as long as it takes to see the government respond to people’s calls. Until we see some change really,” Van Leemnen said. He also said that what was happening on Wall Street had been very inspiring for people, especially in the UK.
Ivor Bennet also reports that the current demonstrations in London are something different from the protests the city faced a few months ago.
“This is a peaceful protest with a very clear message about the democratization of the global finance system. And as taxpayers continue to bail out banks, they are calling for banking executives to pay back their bonuses.”
Meanwhile, the Guardian reports that “the mood of the protest has changed dramatically as riot police move in to kettle the demonstrators.” The paper quotes Mark Townsend, who tweeted: “St Paul’s completely kettled. First arrests. Legal observers cannot access to ‘prevent breach of peace.’ Rapid mood change.”
The Press Association news agency cites a source in Scotland Yard as saying people have been arrested at the London protest for assaulting police officers.
In Rome, protests started at about 12:00 GMT. From 100,000 to 200,000 participants, inspired by the “Occupy Wall Street” movement, are expected to cover streets of the city.
The Colosseum and the Roman Forum were closed down and four metro stations were shut, with 1,500 police officers patrolling the streets and police helicopters circling overhead.
Protesters arrived in Rome on trains and an estimated 750 buses from some 80 provinces across Italy, organizers said, as quoted by FOCUS News Agency.
Watch live pictures from Rome.
According to witnesses’ comments on Twitter, a small group of violent protesters in Rome broke away from the main demonstration and are burning cars. “Police is not able to stop them,” tweets the witness.
According to media reports, they smashed car windows, set vehicles on fire and assaulted news crews. Others burned Italian and EU flags.
Much of the anger about Europe’s financial meltdown has been centered on Brussels, the political heart of the EU, and activists there are determined to make those in power listen.
Protesters in Brussels are marching to the city’s central park from the European Parliament building where they have been holding a rally. They want to set up “an alternative parliament” – what they call “a people’s parliament” – unlike the one that serves the financial elite, as RT’s Daniel Bushell reports from Brussels.
The protest comes in the wake of the latest banking outrage when the Belgian bank Dexia was bailed out by the government at an estimated cost to the taxpayer of 5,000 euro per head. People say they no longer want to pay for bankers’ mistakes.
There is a huge police presence here and several roads are closed. The authorities say the meeting of this “alternative parliament” has been banned. To be precise, they have banned the protesters from camping out, due to the absence of running water. The authorities say it is illegal to live outside without proper sanitation facilities. The protesters, for their part, consider the ban as an excuse to move them on.
The event in Brussels has a strong international flavour, with people arriving from as far away as Spain.
In the Spanish capital, Madrid, protesters have been camped out for months in an attempt to persuade their government to find an alternative to austerity measures as a way of tackling the growing crisis.
But as anger towards bankers and corporations grows around the world, the protests here are gaining momentum. People are planning to gather in the center of the capital on Saturday for a major demonstration which is expected to be one of the biggest in months, as RT’s Irina Galushko reports from Madrid.
With one of the highest unemployment rates in the Eurozone, people in this southern European country are angry about lack of opportunity and the government’s severe austerity program. Thousands of people in Spain literally have no hope of renting their own home.
The most energetic section of the Spanish population – the youth – has been left without job opportunities, which is why they are taking to the streets now to make their voices heard.
And it is not only the capital that is participating in the rallies – several dozen towns across the country are joining in too.
And while demonstrations are underway all around the world, protesters in New York’s Lower Manhattan, where the Occupy Wall Street movement began on September 17, are planning a march to Times Square and a rally at JP Morgan Chase Bank. Protesters say they will withdraw all their money and close their accounts.
People are also preparing to “occupy” parts of several Canadian cities on Saturday.
You can find the full list of cities and countries of Europe, the United States, South America, Asia and Africa joining the worldwide rally on the official website of the global movement http://15october.net/