Tens of thousands of people marched and rallied in major European cities Saturday ahead of the G20 summit, demanding decent jobs, environmental accountability, as well as end of poverty and inequality.
In London, protests organized under the banner of "Put People First" started at 11:00 in the morning, drawing members from over 150 unions, development, faith and environment groups.
The demonstrations were launched in a unified call for a coordinated fiscal stimulus to create and preserve jobs, international action to ensure that an out-of-control finance sector never threatens the stability of the global economy again and a commitment from world leaders that they will move to a low carbon economy.
In an unprecedented alliance of supporters of "Put People First," the demonstrators held out slogans such as "Workers for the world united," "Knowledge is power," "Drop the debt," "Clean up global finance," "Smash Capitalism" and "Climate emergency," expressing their anger at the policies that have seen poverty exist alongside huge top banker bonuses.
"We're angry because this is not a natural disaster, but a crisis due to irresponsible and reckless behavior. We're angry about the inequality that ordinary people are paying the price," said Brendan Barber, General Secretary of Trade Union Congress (TUC) which represents 6.5 million people, later at a rally held in Hyde Park.
He called on leaders of the G20 countries to take up measures now and lay the foundation for a better world where wealth is distributed more fairly, and every one will have food, shelter and health care.
Demonstrators also want the G20 leaders to use the financial crisis to solve social and environmental crisis, pressing them to recognize that only just, fair and sustainable policies can lead the world out of recession.
In Germany, demonstrations, organized by trade unionists, environmentalists, and anti-globalization activists, were staged in Berlin and Frankfurt.
"We will not pay for your crisis," was the motto of the German campaign spearheaded by the anti-globalization network Attac.
Some demonstrators held placards asking banks to be held accountable for the crisis, rather than employees and the world's poor who are suffering as a result of the economic downturn. Some demonstrators carried a coffin, saying it was time to bury capitalism.
A speaker for Attac said about 15,000 people had joined into the Frankfurt demonstration, while in Berlin, there were also several thousand people took part in the protest, according to the police estimation.
In Vienna, around 6,500 people gathered in the city center, carrying signs reading "Capitalism can't be reformed" and "We won't pay for your crisis."
Over 200 people in Geneva took to the streets to pour their bitterness about the financial crisis. They carried banners reading "Capitalism is a mistake" and called for changes.
In Paris, several hundreds protesters dumped a pile of sand outside the city's stock market to mock supposed island tax havens and had it demolished to express their anger on tax frauds in this difficult time.
The protest in Rome drew around 6,000 people, according to organizers. They threw eggs and smoke bombs at banks, insurance companies and estate agencies in an outpour of resentment.
(Xinhua News Agency March 29, 2009)