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In March, Worldwide Protests Gained Momentum

In March, Worldwide Protests Gained Momentum
Tue, 4/9/2013 - by Graciela Razo

Global demonstrations in March turned out hundreds of thousands of protesters, raising oppositional voices against austerity measures, police violence, school closures and ecocidal legislation. Many gatherings celebrated the people’s power, namely International Women’s Day demonstrations and the commemorations after Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez’s death. Latino communities and farm workers also honored civil rights organizer César Chávez’s birthday with marches, proclaiming the continued fight for food democracy and farm workers’ rights.

Meanwhile, as budget cuts continue to ravage Europe, protests gained momentum and participant numbers swelled. International hunger strikes also cast a spotlight on human rights violations, from Palestinian hunger striker Samer Issawi to inmates at Guantanamo Bay.

Here is a rundown of some of the March events and protests that drew popular support across the globe:

March 1: Shelley Young and Joseph Sock, part of a second wave of hunger strikers representing the Canadian Idle No More movement, began an escalated fight against the federal government’s disregard for First Nations’ rights, land and treaties.

March 2: Thousands gathered in more than 20 cities across Portugal demanding an end to austerity measures, which are exacerbating the 40 percent unemployment rate of people under 25 and bringing the country into its third year of the recession.

March 3: Days after toppling their government, tens of thousands of Bulgarian protesters flooded the streets in various cities to demonstrate against the mafia-style government corruption and poverty that is plaguing the country. More than 50,000 attended the biggest rally in the coastal city of Varna.

March 5: More than 1,000 protesters marched to the Texas state capitol in Austin in an effort to stop budget cuts to Medicare and to expand health care to 1.5 million low-income people.

March 6: Thousands of Chavistas flooded the streets in cities across Venezuela to commemorate the life of President Hugo Chavez, who died on March 5.

March 7: Chilean students revived their movement against the privatization and impoverished state of public education, especially for low-income communities, with demonstrations across the country. Student marches have continued weekly since the beginning of the school year.

March 8: Demonstrations across the world marked International Women’s Day, celebrating women’s history and triumphs. Women in Mexico commemorated the day with marches throughout the country, denouncing femicide and drug war violence. Indian women protested continued violence against women and called for an expansion of education opportunities. Afghanistan celebrated International Women’s Day with the country’s first women’s film festival.

March 9: Tens of thousands of Taiwanese protesters demanded that their government halt plans to build a new $10 billion nuclear plant, which is set to begin operation in the next two years.

March 10: Fighting a national bailout, more than 10,000 Slovenians protested against government corruption, austerity measures and a high unemployment rate.

March 11: Keystone XL blockaders held a “funeral for our future” inside TransCanada headquarters, handcuffing themselves to one another and getting arrested in an act of civil disobedience to stop the construction of the Alberta-to-Texas pipeline.

March 12: Consecutive days of protest began as community members demanded justice for Kimani Gray, a 16-year-old black teenager who was shot twice and killed by NYPD officers in Flatbush, Brooklyn on March 9. Police arrested dozens of mourning members of the community, including Gray’s younger sister.

March 13: Most of the detainees at Guantanamo Bay Prison continued their hunger strike against torture methods, including waterboarding and forced nudity, and desecration of personal religious items.

March 14: Hundreds of Matsés Indians protested on the border of Peru and Brazil to stop oil exploration by Canadian oil giant Pacific Rubiales, whose actions devastate their land and threaten their resources.

March 15: The 17th annual march against police brutality in Montreal was met with violence as officers kettled and arrested more than 250 protesters.

March 16: In Tunisia’s biggest demonstration since the Arab Spring, hundreds of thousands demanded an end to the Islamist-controlled government following the assassination of Popular Front opposition leader Chokri Belaid. Demonstrators called for a continued revolution and true democracy in the region.

March 17: Anonymous protesters and community members rallied outside an Ohio courthouse during the trial of two Steubenville football players, Trent Mays and Ma’lik Richardson, who were found guilty of sexually assaulting a West Virginia girl.

March 20: Parents, students and educators marched to the homes of members of the Chicago Board of Education demanding an end to public school closures that mostly affect black and Latino communities.

March 21: Palestinian protesters set up a new protest tent city in the town of Ahfad Younis in the occupied territories to protest President Obama’s visit to Israel. About 15 tents were erected as anti-Obama and anti-Israeli posters were scattered throughout the site.

March 22: Indigenous communities occupied the work site of the Bela Monte Dam in Brazil, halting construction for the day. Protesters demanded an end to the environmental devastation and displacement of native communities caused by the project.

March 23: 294 student protesters were arrested in Montreal during a demonstration that marked the anniversary of last year’s Quebec student movement against tuition increases. Through kettling methods, authorities shut down the protest in less than an hour.

March 24: Hundreds of demonstrators, mostly from the communist AKEL party, gathered around the European Commission offices in Cyprus to rally against the impending bailout plans.

March 25: In the continued wave of self-immolation protests, a Tibetan mother of four set herself aflame to protest China’s rule over the country. At least 110 people have self-immolated in protest.

March 26: Thousands of marriage equality advocates descended on Washington, DC, as the Supreme Court weighed the constitutional right of gay couples to marry.

March 27: Palestinian hunger striker Samer Issawi continued his protest despite failing health and slowing heart rate. Issawi has been on a hunger strike without any charge or trial since last August.

March 28: In an attempt to save their city from further budgetary destruction, Detroit residents and Rev. Al Sharpton rallied to city hall as citizens battled an announced state takeover of the city's finances through an emergency manager law.

March 29: Demonstrations against Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi raged on as protesters threw fire bombs and blocked traffic in opposition to his party's Islamist rule. Riot police dispersed crowds with tear gas as crowds chanted that the revolution must continue.

March 30: On the 37th anniversary of Land Day, Palestinian protesters clashed with Israeli police while marking the day when six Arab citizens were killed during demonstrations against Israeli land confiscations in 1976.

March 31: Migrant farm workers and workers' rights advocates commemorated the birthday of civil rights organizer César Chávez with marches and celebrations, notably the labor union march in downtown San Diego and the farm workers border unity and rights rally in El Paso.

Graciela Razo is a writer and editor for The People's Record.


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