Thursday, May 31, 2012

Chilean-style Protests

I read with interest that even a supposedly progressive country like Canada has a repressive law – Bill 78. This is an emergency law passed this month, i.e. May 18, 2012 by the National Assembly of Quebec, Canada. The law restricts freedom of assembly, protest, or picketing on or near university grounds, and anywhere in Quebec without prior police approval. The law also places restrictions upon education employees right to strike and gives the police the power to arbitrarily declare approved protests to be illegal ones midstream.

The law was passed amid a long, bitter student strike over tuition hikes, but it hasn't damped down the protest. In fact, it has so outraged many Quebeckers that many have joined in nightly protests. The type of protest is loud and noisy. It is called charivari, a form of protest involving beating pots and pans in the streets. It was widely used in Chile after Augusto Pinochet – who used terror to govern Chile – banned public protest.

There is a diversity in the range of protesters – from sensibly dressed fortysomethings wearing hiking boots and kagools and long-haired students wearing only shorts to men and women pushing young children in prams and hipsters on fixed-gear bikes – was matched by the diversity of utensils they chose to create noise. Some had reached past the saucepan and wooden spoon and there were unlikely pairings as a colander and a drumstick, a pan lid and a pair of chopsticks, and a barbecue lid and a pair of tongs all being put to alternative use.

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And I liked this response by Montreal students when they were asked to send the cops the route of their protest march:

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