Yesterday I walked by coincidence into the protests held in London regarding the increase in school fees for University students. I had noticed the enormous amount of police on the streets at forehand, but had not known about this as I simply was preoccupied with the interview I had attended.
In about 10 minutes a whole scenario unfolded in front of my eyes where some people broke free from the protest march and I heard a police women behind me say: ‘And the game’s on.’ She didn’t say it to me of course, but quickly they all aimed for the middle of Trafalgar square. About 40 protesters climbed the steps around it and threw some self-unfolding tents next to it very quickly (In my girls scout days I don’t think we ever thought there would be something like self-unfolding tents, but when we would set them up in the drenching rain after a tiring day of hiking we certainly wished for it).
Some protesters shouted: Occupy! And within minutes I saw police sealing off the whole square, but still taking a back seat. It gave a bit of a surreal image, where you see the wandering tourist, the British office-worker having lunch, the Occupier and the police all at the same time trying to make sense of the situation.
After taking some pictures (I was actually trying to capture reflections in puddles a bit before) I decided to leave the scene. First of all not really sure what would happen, but also getting ready to get to the airport again.
What Occupy stands for is for me not always clear, but in many ways I find it fascinating to see, that there seems to be a worldwide protest movement in the making that focuses on things like social and economic justice issues. And in that sense I can relate to it, but what saddens me is that many of the protesters are unable to connect to the fact they already have a framework to work with: economic, social and cultural rights. It is certainly not an easy thing to access these rights, but the first step is awareness. Human rights education is crucial in any country – so as a very very small start: please find a link to the Covenant and learn about your own rights. And it doesn’t matter whether you are in London, Amsterdam or Jakarta for that matter. If your government has signed on to this, they have to implement it.