THE CROWD TODAY 

Every second day Place du Luxembourg hosts manifestations and protests.

From May 2012 to October 2013 we fished a young looking person from the crowd up to our balcony and presented what they had to say in this section.

(The opinions they express herein do not necessarily reflect the views of ThinkYoung)

29.05.2013

IraRef: Kobler shame on you

We approach Mahmud and Majid.

 

What are you doing here?

We are here to protest against the presence of Martin Kobler, the head of the United Nations Assistance Mission to Iraq (UNAMI), at the European Parliament.

Mr Kobler´s real mandate has been to forcibly repatriate the refugees from their original residence in camp Ashraf to a prison in Camp Liberty.

The refugees are members of the People´s Mojahedin Organization of Iran, the main organized opposition to the totalitarian regime ruling Iran.

 

Have you been here before?

Yes. We have been here before trying to get the attention of the institutions.

We are in favour of a regime change in Iran. We want democracy.

That’s why we regularly come here to ask the EU and the European Parliament to stop the appeasement policy towards the Iranian regime and also to give support to the Iranian people against the dictatorship in Iran.

Today our protest is about the presence of Mr. Kobler in the European Parliament.

He did not deserve to come here, here is the home of democracy.

He has never respected democracy in Iraq, never towards Iranian opposition.

Mr. Kobler is responsible for the death of eight Iranians of the opposition in Camp Liberty.

We find it very unfortunate that Kobler hasn’t fulfilled any of his promises.

Althoug Kobler had promised residents they would be swiftly resettled in third countries, that they would have security in Camp Liberty, and that the conditions in Camp Liberty would meet humanitarian standards, his promises have proven to be untrue.

Mr Kobler´s intents are to undermine the security and safety of Camp Liberty residents and break their political will.

After 3100 of Ashraf residents were forced to go to Liberty last year, this camp was attacked twice by missiles, once on the 9th of February, resulting in 8 dead and on 29th of April with no casualties.

 

What would you like to do to change the situation?

The actions by Martin Kobler are a serious betrayal of the UN charter and a criminal breach of international law and should be investigated by humanitarian authorities. 

 

What we want:

 

1. Dismiss Kobler. The UN must honour its obligation towards Iraq under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, by replacing the current envoy, Martin Kobler, with a competent, unbiased representative who seeks to work for the establishment of peace and stability to that country, while upholding the core principles of the UN.

 

2. Return Liberty residents to Camp Ashraf immediately in order to enjoy relative security and be resettled gradually from there to third countries.

 

3. Form an international investigative committee to look into the actions of the UN envoy and his staff in Iraq against these Iranian refugees.

 

What would you like to say to a member of parliament?

We would like to say to the entire European Parliament that we expected the EU to take up a much more proactive role!

29.5.2013 

MQM Belgium Unit: We want justice

We approach Faisol Rizui.

 

What are you doing here?

We are doing a demonstration against Taliban extremists beacuse they destruct a lot in Pakistan.

We are a liberal, secular, progressive and democratic party in Pakistan.

 

What would you like to do to change the situation?

In Pakistan there were elections on 11th of may. After the elections two provinces at the border of Afghanistan are once again in the hand of extremists.

They are against all liberals, secular and progressive people in Pakistan.

We protest because we would like to have more support from the whole world (European Union, United Nations, America...) all the liberal countries which are progressive.

 

Have you been here before?

Yes. Four years ago we also did a protest against the Talibans.

 

What would you like to say to a member of the EU Parliament?

I would like to ask all the members of the Parliament of the European Union to raise their voices in favour of liberal secular and democratic forces. That they will support them against extremism.

 

Few words to describe your protest everyone.

Have support from all Europe against extremism and against Taliban Al-Qaeda.

 

For more info: www.mqm.org.

28.05.2013 

Freedom for Kashmir

 

What are you doing here?

We are here because of three murders. One of our political leaders, Arif Shahid, has been killed in Pakistan this month.

Also in previous months other leaders of the Kashmir freedom struggle have been killed.

We blame the Pakistani intelligence service for these actions.

We Kashmiri living in Belgium strongly condemn this.

We only want freedom for Kashmir!

 

Did you protest here before?

This is my first protest but there have been protests before.

We have been in this freedom struggle for years. I plan to participate more in the future.

 

What would you like to do to change the situation?

We will keep protesting to get attention regarding the Kashmir issue.

 

What would you like to ask to an MEP?

Look at our basic problems: we are neutral people, independent from Pakistani or Indian influences.

We want a reunification of Kashmir and don’t want to be a part of India or Pakistan.

We basically need a country like Belgium.

25.05.2013

No Gmo! No Monsanto!

 

We approach Robbrecht, 24, from Antwerp.

 

What are you eating?

It's just a salad man! Don't be scared, organic food is magic!

 

What are you doing here?

We are here to oppose to Monsanto Corporation and to genetically modified food.

Gmo's are harmful to the environment and to your health.

We are organising protests in 50 Countries, hundreds of thousands of people marching at the same time!

It is one of the biggest manifestations in human history!

 

Why in front the European Parliament?

Monsanto wants to make a deal with Europe to declare the free exchange of seeds illegal.

This would make growing your own food prohibited, allowing multinationals to register a copyright on seeds, so that you would need to buy seeds from them at the price they decide!

Growing your own food would become illegal!

 

What do you think will happen?

I hope the deal never gets signed and Monsanto does not make in Europe what they have already made elsewhere.

Just look it up on Google, they are doing so much harm to people of so many regions!

 

What would you like to say to a member of the EU Parliament?

Do not ever make the deal with Monsanto corporation, declare GMO illegal and foster the consumption of seasonal organic vegetables all around the continent. It is a scandal to even discuss exclusive patenting rights over seeds.

 

Where are you going now?

I think i am going to leave soon, the parking lot is 3 euros an hour in the European District, so expensive!

 

18.5.2013

(Extra) Belgian Pride

 

The 18th edition of the Belgian Pride drew tens of thousands of people to downtown Brussels last weekend.

This year, the festive and musical procession celebrated both the Belgium´s green light to gay marriage and the seven years of the right for gay couples to adopt a child.

Belgian Pride is also an opportunity for the gay community to make its voices heard.

 

Hugo, 26 years old, Belgium.

 

What are you doing here?

We are partying and supporting the political and social view that is in favour of rainbow families.

It is important for us to be here because we are young and we want to get as much rights as we can for the future.

Even though since 2006 it is allowed for a couple of the same sex to adopt children in Belgium, all families are not equal because it is still easier for straight couples to adopt children.

The situation is not very good yet.

 

What would you like to do to change the situation?

I believe that informing the society is the first way of action and after that we should make the people aware, starting with our friends, that issues related to the gay community are not going well at the moment.

This week we went to a meeting organised by the Minister of Family Policy and I think that political action is very important to start changing the situation.

 

Have you been here before?

Yes, It is my third time here.

 

What would you like to say to a member of the EU Parliament?

These kind of debates are quite simple. You have the power to make our lives easier, so don´t forget us.

 

Karin, 23 years old, Sweden

 

What are you doing here?

Because it is fun to be here and I also want to support the lesbian and gay community.

 

What would you like to do to change the situation?

A lot of gay people experienced homophobia in the street and they are afraid to say they are gay or to show it.

I would like that this situation improves.

 

Have you been here before?

It is my first time at this event in Brussels but I have participated before in Sweden.

 

What would you like to say to a member of the EU Parliament?

We should have stronger laws against discrimination.

 

Zanelli, 26 years old, Belgium

 

What are you doing here?

I am here because even if some people say that Gay Pride doesn´t need to exist for me it is important even if we have rights enough. In Belgium there is a lot of homophobia in our daily life.

We can marry, we can adopt but this doesn´t mean that there is no discrimination.

 

What would you like to do to change the situation?

We live in a patriarchal society so it could be dangerous if you walk in the street with your boyfriend.

People are not open minded and this is still difficult for us to deal with.

We would like to be more oriented and involved in politics as this is very important.

In Belgium there are laws against homophobia at work or when you rent an appartment, and this protects us.

In Europe there are only laws against discrimination at work.

If for example you cannot rent a flat in Poland because you are gay, it is not ilegal.

 

Have you been here before?

Yes, it is my third time here.

 

What would you like to say to a member of the EU Parliament?

We still have a lot of things that are not socially internalized, which is important because we cannot change behaviours with laws.

7.6.2013

ARMH: Search for the 113.000 victims of the Franco regime that are missing!

 

What are you doing here?

We are here to protest against the impunity of the crimes which took place under the Franco regime in Spain and the silence of the European Parliament.

The Parliament Questors have decided that our exhibition on the search and identification of the missing people cannot be shown within the premises of the EU for it is too violent.

There are 113,000 missing victims in Spain, the highest number of people missing after Cambodia.

We want these victims to be found and their families to be heard.

These murders in Spain have not been investigated yet, nor the judiciary nor the government does anything to compensate the families of the victims and therefore the European Union must urge the Spanish government to look for these missing people.

 

What would you like to do to change the situation?

We want all MEPs to force the Spanish government to find the thousands of people who are missing in a similar way as they are doing in Argentina and Chile. It's been 70 years and the children of these missing people want to bring back the remains of their family members to their cities. They only thing they ask for is some justice and the truth.

 

Have you protested here before?

Yes, MEP Raül Romeva who wanted to bring the exhibition to the European Parliament made ​​a complaint which was withdrawn because it is an exhibition of images of violence and political controversy. Then, we wrote a letter saying that within the Parliament, they actually have images of the Nazi Holocaust and an exhibition of Spanish victims of ETA.

We therefore do not understand why pictures of the victims of Francoism cannot be exhibited there as well.

 

What would you like to say to a member of the EU Parliament?

We want them to reconsider their decision, to visit the exhibition and draw their own conclusions because these images reflect the lack of democratic culture in Spain.

The pictures will be shown for the next two months in Halles at St. Gery.

 

ARMH OFFICIAL WEBSITE

 

24.4.2013

Amnesty International: Proctect "invisible" migrants on Europe's fringes.

 

What are you doing here?

We are presenting a petition with over 70.000 signatures that should reinforce courage in the European Union and the governments of the 27 member states to stop exposing people to danger along Europe’s coasts and borders.

The ‘refugee’ boat that we are using is symbolic for the way in which many migrants often arrive to some of our countries. Every year thousands of people set off on perilous journeys seeking economic safety, new opportunities or refuge. However some of them never make shore.

This situation has to change.

 

What would you like to do to change the situation?

It is important that the MEP’s start taking matters in their hands and speak up to these situations and confront their national governments.

You see we have put a lot of specific dates on the back of some of the people present here today.

These dates represent those days on which boats shipwreck and people get lost or die.

Even though these days it is often attractive to make harsh policies or harsh statements on migrants policy makers should never lose sight of the often gruesome conditions in which migrants try to access Europe.

 

Have you protested in the past before?

Yes, a couple of weeks ago we were in the Solidarity Space to raise awareness and visibility for Roma people. We have periodic protests in order to create more visibility.

 

What would you like to say to a member of the EU Parliament?

You have the power! Stand up! Put pressure on governments!

Use your power and cause an impact on the European, Global and national level.

11.4.2013

Help us to survive

 

A big crowd is standing in front of the EU Parliament this morning.

Workers of the vessel sector coming from Belgium, Germany and The Netherlands are protesting against the raise of the oil price and the decrease of their salaries.

 

We approach Ardi, 25 years old from Germany.

 

What are you doing here?

We are here to protest against the politicians, who do not understand that we need money to survive. Right before the crisis we were working decently, but now everything is more complicated and the governments do not help us as they should.

We work the same hours as in the past, but the money is less than ever.

This is not right.

 

What would you like to do to change the situation?

We want that things go back as they were before the crisis.

I used to earn 3.000 euros per month and now it is almost 1.000.

 

“In 2012, I used to earn 12,00€/ton and now the money is almost half of it (6.80€/ton).” says another man joining the discussion, holding many papers and documents as proofs of his statements.

 

Have you protested before in the past?

We protest every time we need to say something to the governments and the institutions.

We need help and money from them.

 

What would you like to say to a member of the EU Parliament?

I would say that they are a minority who is gaining a lot of money and the keep normal people without money to live and maintain their companies.

We are tired, they kill the small boats activities in name of business and profits.

 

Few words to describe your protest to everyone.

HELP US TO STAY ALIVE!

8.4.2013 

Fully Fund, Fully Global

 

Arben, 32 years old, Belgium.

 

What are you doing here?

Every year millions of people around the world die because of AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis.

Today we are calling the EU Commission and Parliament and the European Member States to continue to invest in the fight against these diseases.

The three-year deal for funding is ending in 2013 and we are here to ask for future financing the Global Fund.

 

Have you tried to change the situation in the past?

Yes, of course. We organized these protests in the past and they are organized worldwide.

 

What would you like to say to a member of the EU Parliament?

We have already reached incredible results, we made remarkable progress in fighting these three diseases in more than 150 countries worldwide.

Thanks to the development assistance through Global Fund 4.2 million AIDS patients have received life-saving treatment, 9.7 million cases of tuberculosis have been detected and treated and 310 million bed-nets have been distributed to protect families against malaria.

What we want is to continue to help and we can do it with new fundings.

 

More information at: www.theglobalfund.org

 

 

25.3.2013

Stop Blasphemy law

 

What are you doing here?

We are protesting here against the discrimination of Christians and the blasphemy law in Pakistan.

We feel threatened by Muslims. They are pushing us out of the country.

Many Christian people have been killed and raped because of their religion, and this should not happen.

I have been living here in Belgium for 4 years and I came here to feel secure.

We want equal rights for everyone in Pakistan, as you have in Europe.

 

What would you like to do to change the situation?

We want to change the blasphemy law, which punishes anyone who says blasphemies of the Koran.

Christian people feel threatened in Pakistan, and we want to change it.

In 2011 the only Minister who was Christian was killed. He was trying to change the blasphemy law and he was killed.

We want the respect of human rights.

 

Have you tried to change the situation in the past?

Yes, we protested here in 2010, right in front of the EU institutions and we are trying to do it again today in order to give voice to all the religious minorities in Pakistan that are not here today.

 

What would you say to a member of the EU Parliament?

We want respect of our rights, and we are here to make it public and visible to the institutions.

We are human beings, we need to have our human rights protected and respected everywhere.

We want that they understand our rights.

 

Three words to express you protest to everyone.

Freedom of our rights.

(pics not allowed)

 

Diane, 22 years old, Belgium.

 

What are you doing here?

This is the final step students have to complete in order to enter our circle.

We are from the Institute Libre Marie Haps and our circle is called the Marie Haps circle.

 

How exactly does this circle work?

It started 30 years ago. We organise events for students, parties, we sell sweaters for the pupils.

We are sometimes criticized because of the rituals we undertake to become members of the circle, but actually I believe it is a nice experience to make new friends, to meet new people from other faculties, and to enjoy the school life together.

 

How do you become a member?

The “baptism” starts in September/October, we meet twice in September or October and the ones who want to enter to our circle have to do some tasks like learning and singing songs or latin formula... Sometimes we ask them to go beyond their limits, they have to do some actions and conduct some behaviours to show they are ready to enter in our circle. Some people cannot do it, but it does not mean that we do not cut the relations with these people, we remain friends of course. At the end of the year, as you can see now, we ask them to do these kind of funny exercises in public places, thus they will be effectively part of the circle.

21.3.2013 

A special crowd this morning, doing weird exercises in the middle of the square.

 

15.3.2013

Help Syria

 

What are you doing here?

We are here to protest against the silence of the EU towards Iran and Syria.

There are millions of refugees that try to escape from these countries, but the EU does not intervene to change the situation.

 

Have you tried to help in the past?

We tried, we try everyday, but the institutions do not listen to us.

We know that Iran help the Syrian dictatorships and they keep killing innocent civilians, while the Western countries do not act against it.

 

What would you like to do to change the situation?

We would like to ask the EU to change policy and start providing the arms to the Syrian resistance movement.

 

What would you like to say to a member of the EU Parliament?

I would like tell him/her to go back to the WWII and imagine if nobody would have helped the Europeans to rid of the Nazis. For us it is the same, no-one is helping Syrian people to rid of the dictatorship.

 

Three words to describe your protest to everyone?

We Will Win!

1.3.2013

Stop the syrian dictatorship

What are you doing here?

We are here to protest against what is happening in Iraq and Syria, where the current political situation is unbearable. A few days ago some Iraqi were killed because they protested against the government.

Moreover, we want that the EU tries to stop the Syrian dictatorship and give a voice to those thousands of people (most of them children) killed every day during the civil war.

 

Did you try to help in the past? Are there many associations based in Brussels?

Yes, there are some associations as SOS Syria which is based in Brussels and try to support and shed light to what is happening there.

 

What would you like to do to change the situation?

We would like to ask the EU to intervene and try to put an end to the Assad regime.

The EU should also make people more aware of what is happening in Syria.

We hope that the EU can help Syrian people to cross the borders to Turkey, where many NGOs are based.

Finally, we would like that Russia stops supporting the dictatorship.

 

What would you like to say to a member of the EU Parliament?

They must help Syrian people by allowing Syrian citizens to cross the borders and to go to Turkey where NGOs can help them.

They should put an end to all the brutal and violent riots that take place in my country every day.

Moreover, the Iraqi government helps the Syrian dictatorship and supports it and this has to stop right now.

We need help and we need to raise awareness to European people about the Syrian situation.

 

Three words to describe tour protest to everyone.

Freedom

No more dictatorship

The world has to help the people in Syria

27.4.2012

A future for Congo

Toni lived in Belgium since he arrived as a political refugee in 1999.

He studied Human resources at the University of Mons then he learned construction.

He is now working in the field of construction.

 

Why are you here?

We are here singing loudly in order to stop the genocide in Congo.

Since the presidency of Mobutu in Congo we are living in a dictatorship.

Kabila is conducting the same politics. It raises misery and spread what we call “anti-valours”.

Did you know that Congo is the last country in the UN report on Human Development?

In 2011 Kabila was re-elected against Etienne Tshisekedi.

We always said that those elections were corrupted in favour of Kabila.

 

How would you change the current situation?

We must react to this political crisis in Congo, Kabila wants to maintain his power for the next 5 years, but what is the hope for young people then? They feel trapped. They want to fight for the truth.

Young Europeans must take interest in international politics and especially in their country’s foreign affair policy.

 

Did you try to change the situation before?

There are a lot of Congolese around the world and in Belgium.

We are organized within associations or just individuals.

We try to make Belgium government to care about Congo, even if we are still very disappointed that Belgium did not take a strong position against Kabila and try to help Congolese people.

 

What do you think will happen in Congo?

At the moment, there is an important crisis, Kabila has formed a government based on defiance.

Kabila does not listen to his citizens and the young people.

He has not provided with any social policies, he is corrupted and under investigation for fraud.

When you forget you are governing a country that is made of people, then you can expect some problems.

 

Have you ever been in Congo?

I lived there until 1999.

I arrived as a refugee in Belgium in 1999 during the fall of Mobutu dictatorship.

Belgium helped me through when I was looking for asylum.

Now, I have a Belgian wife and my children have the Belgian nationality.

26.4.2012

The crowd today is not screaming at all.

We approach Lan, 19, from China.

 

Why are you sitting down on the grass?

This is a meditation exercise, it opens our energy channels. It is a Chinese form of Qi Gong, it is very popular in China, it is good both for your body and spirit.

Today is the anniversary of a peaceful demonstration that took place on the 25th of april 12 years ago in Beijing. We want to express to the European Parliament that prosecution against us has been taking place for 12 years non-stop. We would like to remind the European Parliament what is happening in China now.

 

What exactly does CCP not permit about Fa lun Gong?

They are afraid people will believe Fa lun Gong more than they believe in the Communist Party.

You could do it alone in your privacy but you cannot practice in public space.

According to Chinese law you are totally free to practice Fa lun Gong but actually you cannot do it, sometimes the party could behave as if they are above the law and arrest you.

They are afraid people will believe Fa lun Gong more than they believe in the Communist Party.

You could do it alone in your privacy butyou cannot practice in public space.

According to Chinese law you are totally free to practice Fa lun Gong but actually you cannot do it, sometimes the party could behave as if they are above the law and arrest you.

 

Why did you leave China? Because the prosecution of Fa lun Gong didn't stop.

There have been a lot of false information about us, so many Chinese people still don't know the truth.

The Police came to our family house 2 times when I was young.

The first time it was when my parents went to Tian An Men to demonstrate in 1989.

Many foreigners were there too. The second time the police came to arrest my parents.

My dad was in jail 3 months and my mom for 1 year and a half.

During their imprisonment they were abused.

After we managed to come to Belgium, my parents became refugees and now we are living here.

 

Would you like to go back to China or stay here?

When the situation will change I hope I can get back there.

 

Where are you going now?

Back to my house by train. Tomorrow I go to school, I have friends.

I really like TinTin, I used to watch his cartoons back in China, they are very popular there.

Sometimes I miss my home but my life here is really good, although we eat more rice in China and at school here they make me eat bread every day!

29.3.2012 

We don't want pity, we want justice

We approach Jasvir, 22, from Paris.

 

I work as an account manager in a building company.

I studied medicine but had to stop when my family needed money.

I am famous here, I was one of the first three students expelled from school in France in 2004, when I refused to take off my turbant while at school.

I was kicked out for one year and finally enrolled into a private institute, where I graduated in 3 years.

 

What does the orange mean?

Today we are all dressed in orange because that is the color of our region, Khalistan.

 

Why are you here?

I am here today to express our malcontent with the Indian Government onthe inequality of treatment between different religions. I protest against the killing of M. Balwant Singh. The European Parliament should denounce the death penalty and India who has the image of being the biggest democracy in the world, but is in fact governed by extremist ideologies, anti Muslim and Sikh mainly.

Here in Europe the Indian Government is helped a lot for economical reasons.

I want the European Parliament to push India to stop death penalty, especially applied against Sikh.

 

What do you think will happen in India?

The beauty of India is an illusion, human rights are not respected there.

Do you know Amnesty International cannot enter Punjab? Human rights are violated, I think India risks a civil war if this man will be executed.

 

Have you ever been to India?

Yes but I felt disgusted by the poverty there, I could not walk anywhere without being surrounded by beggars asking me for money. I will not go there again.

 

Did you ever try to help the situation there?

Yes we did many times, sending money from here. But they use it to buy drugs and alcool most of the times.

I don’t think they have a real conscience of planning things for the future.

 

Where are you going now?

I will go back to the bus that brought us here from France, there is lunch there for all of us.

We came today from most of the European countries by bus, we stay until five and then we drive back.

Tomorrow morning I start to work at seven back in Paris.

 

PAST PARTNERS

POWERED BY

OFFICES

Brussels

Place du Luxembourg 6

1050 Brussels

Belgium

Geneva

Rue du Tunnel 15

1227 Carouge

Switzerland

Hong Kong

Yu Chau Street 135

Hong Kong SAR

China

Madrid

C/Maudes 50

28003 Madrid

Spain