From Iceland — Protestors Make Noise As Parliament Opens

Protestors Make Noise As Parliament Opens

Published September 12, 2012

Dozens of protestors lined the edge of Austurvöllur after dark this evening, striking a constant drumbeat on a row of green barrels arranged across the perimeter of the lawn on the northern edge of Kirkjustræti to demonstrate against the political class at the opening of the new Parliamentary session.
As Prime Minister Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir spoke inside Alþingi, she struck a keynote of optimism reminding MPs that GDP, employment, purchasing power and general standard of living have all increased, reports. Outside however, the protestors who had travelled long distances for tonight’s demonstration remained unconvinced.
Well over ten thousand people were invited to the Facebook event “TUNNURNAR ÞAGNA EKKI!” (‘Barrels, Do Not Be Silent!’) that galvanised tonight’s protest, but only a tiny fraction braved the pouring rain darting from the skies over downtown Reykjavík this evening.
One protestor, Rósa, travelled sixty kilometres from Stokkseyri in South Iceland to stand on Austurvöllur tonight. “I have come to make my voice heard,” she said, taking out her earplugs as the clattering noise heard clearly from Tryggvagata and the harbour continued. “This government has done nothing for the poor people, the people who have lost their homes and livelihoods. But the rich get richer.”
Rósa carried a blank sign: “We write whatever we like on here. Whatever we write, they won’t pay any attention.”
The Facebook group urged invitees to bring barrels and carry signs to demonstrate outside the new parliamentary session: “The drum is calling you and me to Austurvöllur on September 12”.
“We must ensure that neither the Prime Minister nor her colleagues get away with congratulating themselves by speaking of the silence outside,” it read.
Another protestor declared as he continued striking his drum: “We are small in number, but we are making a loud noise. They can hear us on the television screens at home.”
As word reached protestors at around 21:00 that the Prime Minister had finished her speech and the meeting inside the Alþingi was drawing to a close, the drumbeat came to a sudden halt—and the handful remaining applauded one another convivially, before dispersing into the night, as four police officers on duty looked on.
Four years ago this autumn, tens of thousands gathered in this very spot weekend after weekend, banging on their pots and pans in protest at the government’s fumbling mishandling of the 2008 economic crash, and the greed of the bankers who were held culpable.
Tonight, only a small proportion returned—but the noise may yet go on.
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