'Indignant' protests pick up
Hong Kong - Protesters across the
Asia-Pacific region Saturday joined worldwide demonstrations inspired by the
"Occupy Wall Street" and "Indignants" movements.
Rallies are planned for Saturday in more than
950 cities across 82 countries in Europe, North America, Latin America, Asia
and Africa in a show of power by a movement born on May 15 when a rally in
Madrid's central square of Puerta del Sol sparked a protest that spread
nationwide, then to other countries.
Protesters in Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban
and Grahamstown showed their support.
Around 500 people gathered in the heart of
Hong Kong's financial district to express their anger at the inequities and
excesses of free-market capitalism, while demonstrators in Tokyo also voiced
fury at the Fukushima nuclear accident.
Wong Weng-chi, a demonstrator from a group
calling themselves "Left 21", said the "Occupy Central"
rally in Hong Kong was more than just an act of solidarity with the Wall Street
protest, which began in September.
"Hong Kong is a key financial hub in
Asia, it is a base that serves many multinational financial institutions. It is
a base that serves many capitalists and the upper class to monopolise the
wealth," he told AFP.
Hong Kong, a city of seven million people, is
known for its super-rich tycoons, low taxes and teeming shopping districts.
But it is also a case study in economic
inequality, with thousands of low-income residents forced to live in
"cage" accommodation because of the skyrocketing cost of housing
fuelled by wealthy property speculators.
Around 600 demonstrators in Sydney set up
camp outside Australia's central bank. Corporate greed, the political influence
of big firms, climate change and the plight of refugees and Aboriginal
Australians were repeatedly raised as issues.
In Tokyo, around 100 protesters marched
through the streets, shouting "Occupy Tokyo!". They added
anti-nuclear slogans as they passed the offices of Tokyo Electric Power Co, the
operator of the stricken Fukushima plant.
Tomoko Horaguchi, a 22-year-old student at
Hosei University, said she was moved by the protesters on Wall Street.
"I feel the same anger," Horaguchi
said. "In particular I am angry at nuclear power plants. Only one percent
of people want to run them still."
The Fukushima nuclear accident, the world's
worst since Chernobyl, was sparked after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami
crippled the plant's cooling systems and led to reactor meltdowns and radiation
In Seoul, some 200 protestors rallied outside
an old palace near the City Hall, carrying banners including one reading
"Capitalism for one percent has failed."
"We're fed up with a government of one
percent, by one percent and for one percent," a female activist shouted
through a loudspeaker.
Hundreds of riot police troops wearing
fluorescent waterproofs and carrying shields stopped the protestors from
marching towards a nearby square.
Earlier, some 70 activists braved driving
rain to rally outside the headquarters of the country's financial watchdog, the
Financial Supervisory Service, waving banners and chanting slogans.
"Occupy Yeoido," they chanted in
reference to the main financial district of Seoul. "We're the 99%."
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