Mon, Mar 30, 2009 - Page 6 News List

Anti-G20 protesters march in Europe

JOINING FORCES: Protest rallies were also held in Paris, Madrid, Berlin, Rome and other European cities, drawing anywhere from a few hundred people to several thousand

AFP , LONDON

Tens of thousands of people took to the streets of London on Saturday to express their anger at the human cost of the financial crisis.

Demonstrators also marched in other European capitals as politicians appealed for calm during Thursday’s G20 gathering in London.

Police estimated the London crowd at up to 35,000 but there were no reports of any violence as the placard-waving crowd snaked along the 6km route to Hyde Park.

An alliance of more than 150 organizations including unions, charities and environment groups joined the march to demand action to save jobs, create a low-carbon economy and impose stricter controls on the finance sector.

US Vice President Joe Biden, meanwhile, called for protesters to give governments a chance to tackle the economic crisis at a conference in Chile.

“I would hope that the protesters give us a chance, listen to what we have to say and hopefully we can make it clear to them that we’re going to walk away from this G20 meeting with some concrete proposals,” he said.

Also in Chile, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who will host the G20 summit, said: “The action that is happening in London today I understand, and we will respond to it at the G20.”

Organizers of the Put People First march for “jobs, justice and climate” in London had rejected as “smears” claims in police briefings that marches could be hijacked by anarchists bent on violence.

Brendan Barber, general secretary of the Trades Union Congress, said the demonstration had a clear message for the presidents and prime ministers heading to London.

“Never before has such a wide coalition come together with such a clear message for world leaders,” he said.

“The old ideas of unregulated free markets do not work, and have brought the world’s economy to near-collapse, failed to fight poverty and have done far too little to move to a low-carbon economy,” Barber said.

One protester, Chris Pounds, 45, a health worker from Northampton, said the groups in the march were united in their belief that global leaders had “made a real mess” of the economy.

“We have got to start again to find a new way of living because over the last year we’ve seen that our so-called leaders don’t know what they are doing,” he said. “I don’t care what happens at the G20 summit — we don’t need their help.”

The protesters waved banners with slogans such as “We won’t pay for the crisis,” “Plan it with the planet in mind” and “Capitalism always leads to death.”

More protests are planned in London in the days leading up to the summit.

In Rome, protesters threw red paint, egg and smoke bombs at banks, insurance companies and estate agencies in their protest.

Students and left-wing activists were among those who took part in the march, which organizers said had drawn around 6,000 people.

Thousands of people also marched through Berlin and Frankfurt on Saturday. In Vienna, police said at least 6,500 people marched to protest about the effects of globalization.

Several hundred demonstrators turned out in Paris, where they erected and demolished a model of an island symbolizing a tax haven.

Also See: China calls for financial reform

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