Thousands of demonstrators gathered across Europe over the weekend to protest energy prices and the climate – and also to show solidarity with anti-government protesters in Iran.
Germany has been the epicenter of the protests, but Brussels also saw marchers on Sunday, according to local media, as thousands of people took part in a demonstration organized by the Climate Coalition, which brings together more than 90 environmental organizations, trade unions and citizens’ movements. , to demand strong measures against global warming.
The end of the demonstration was expected around 5 p.m. at the Parc du Cinquantenaire, near the European institutions. According local authoritiestraffic could be disrupted until 8 p.m. According to the police, 25,000 people took part in the march, according to Le Soir.
“We’ve seen a big increase since 2018, and despite COVID and other emergencies, people continue to mobilize and take to the streets for more climate action,” said Rebecca Thissen, coordinator of the Climate Coalition. .
On Saturday, tens of thousands of protesters gathered in six German cities to demand a fairer distribution of public funds to deal with rising energy prices and a faster transition away from fossil fuels, according to Reuters.
Demonstrations took place in Berlin, Düsseldorf, Hanover, Stuttgart, Dresden and Frankfurt. Protesters held up placards bearing slogans on a wide range of sometimes seemingly contradictory topics, from increasing energy subsidies and shutting down nuclear power plants to curbing inflation, according to reports. Around 24,000 people took part, according to Greenpeace, one of the organizers, while police said 1,800 people gathered in the German capital.
“We want to show that we urgently need socially balanced financial aid for citizens,” said Andrea Kocsis, vice-president of ver.di, one of the unions organizing the protest. “The government does a lot but it distributes funds with a watering can. Low-income people need more support than wealthy people,” she added.
Germany’s parliament on Friday approved the government’s proposal for a 200 billion euro fund to tackle soaring energy prices. Private households could benefit from a price cap from March.
The 200 billion euro fund has been controversial in Brussels as some leaders have accused Germany of protectionist tendencies since not all EU member states have the same fiscal capacity as Berlin.
“We have to find a way to overcome … perhaps almost protectionist tendencies,” Latvian Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš warned on Thursday, speaking to reporters ahead of a meeting of EU leaders. “We have to look beyond what we can do as individual member states,” he said.
On a separate note, tens of thousands gathered in Berlin on Saturday to show solidarity with anti-government protesters in Iran, where a protest sparked by the death of a woman in the custody of vice police has turned into a challenge to the Islamic Republic, according to an Associated Press report.
Berlin police estimated that 37,000 people had joined the protest by late afternoon. Attendees, also from outside Germany, waved Iranian flags and placards criticizing Iranian leaders, many of whom carried the slogan “Women, Life, Freedom” in English and German.
And similar demonstrations against the Iranian regime took place on Saturday across the Atlantic in Washington and Los Angeles.
Before the COVID pandemic, there were already strong protests in Iran.
And there were also other protests over the weekend – for different reasons – in Hong Kong, Santiago, Paris and Barcelona, with analysts pointing out that in the age of smartphones and social media, staging a street protest does not require the support of opposition parties. or unions.
The energy crisis seems to have only exacerbated the trend.
According to data released last month by risk consultancy Verisk Maplecroft, more protests are yet to come. The data, spanning seven years and summarized in its Civil Unrest Index, shows that the last quarter has seen more countries witness an increase in the risk of civil unrest than at any time since the index was first published.
Of 198 countries, 101 experienced an increase in risk, compared to only 42 where the risk decreased.
“As conditions of civil unrest build in a growing number of countries, the severity and frequency of protests and union activism are expected to further accelerate in the coming months,” according to the consultancy.