Protests at Parliament Continue Through the Night - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Protests at Parliament Continue Through the Night

Published January 21, 2009

Haukur S. Magnússon
Photos by
Haukur S. Magnússon

Protests in front of the Icelandic parliament continued through the night last night and bonfires were lit (watch video), one of which consisted of a Christmas tree from Norway, fishing palettes and several park benches from the area. Police guarding the the scene used clubs at one point, contending that they were protecting the parliamentary building.

Four arrests were made last night, with two released from custody shortly thereafter. According to Morgunblaðið, the protestors were for the most part dispersed around three in the morning, and not much damage was done by the fires. The protests thus carried on for over thirteen hours, from when parliament was due to commence at 13:00 yesterday into well into the night, with varying degrees of intensity and attendance.

Several unrelated groups had – on social networking site Facebook and political or activist web-sites such as Nei. and Aftaka.org – urged the populace to bring their pots and pans (for making noise) to the house of Alþingi at 13:00, as parliament was scheduled to meet after a month’s long “Christmas leave”.

Attendance peaked at 14:00 and again at 22:00 yesterday, when an estimated 3.000 persons of all ages and political affiliations gathered in protest, beating on pots, pans, bottles, drums and light posts amidst chants of “Unfit government, unfit government!”

A protestor interviewed by the Grapevine on-site said that the call of the people was for “[…] someone to accept at least a little bit of responsibility for all that’s gone wrong, and been done wrong. We want the government to resign, and we want to vote again as soon as possible.”

At the time of writing on, today’s scheduled parliamentary meetings have been cancelled without explanation although a statement is expected. Already, hundreds of citizens have already reconvened in front of the house of parliament to protest, and the numbers are expected to grow throughout the day.

Icelanders have been protesting in front of parliament on at least a weekly basis, calling for the resignation of the sitting ruling coalition of government, who many see as bearing a great deal of the blame for Iceland’s current economic woes.

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