Monday, October 08, 2007

The power of the people

With literally minutes to go, the London Metropolitan police called off their ban of an anti-war march at the British Parliament set to coincide with the start of a new parliamentary session. The police, in fact, proved to be capable organizers: their ban attracted crowds of new protesters incensed at this blatant attack on democratic rights. Faced with force majeure, and not wanting pictures of a police attack on peaceful protesters to be flashed world-wide, the cops caved. Or, rather, the Home Office officials who had been pulling their strings caved.

A number of similar demonstrations had come off without incident in the past. Indeed, as is usual, the Stop the War Coalition had been working with the police for some time to plan the march. But suddenly, in a meeting a few days ago, the police said the march would not be possible--not within a mile of Parliament. Plans for the march continued anyway, and the march took place.

Meanwhile, in quite a different part of the world, it looks as though the Burmese (Myanmarian?) kleptocrats have won this round. But nothing can stop people, vulnerable though they be to laws, police and the military, from demanding and winning the right to self-determination in that word's most fundamental sense. Even the tinpots of Burma seem to be dimly aware of this. Whether it's victory for freedom of assembly in England, or a fiercer, long-term struggle for democratic rights in Burma, no popular protest is ever unsuccessful in the long run.

H/t The Whiskey Priest.

UPDATE: (October 10) I'm starting to have second thoughts about posting the picture above, given the Right's current propensity for stalking children. H/t Canadian Cynic.

UPDATE: (October 11) And here is mana tangata whenua, the power of the Maori struggles for tino-rangatiratanga ("self-determination" being the imperfect translation). Police violence will not stop them. Police violence will not stop us. Ka whawhai tonu matou ki a koutou, ake, ake, ake! (We shall fight on against you, forever!) The clip was banned by the Bebo Network. Pokokohua!

H/t Mike Smith.

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