May Day 2002

IssueJune - August 2002

On 1 May hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets in a mixture of protest, celebration and commemoration. Trade unionists, environmentalists, social justice activists, peace campaigners, and many other groupings took part in marches, meetings and actions, plus displays of alternative ideas for how to live in the kind of world many of us want to live in.

Here's a few snapshots of some of the bigger and more creative events that took place (report compiled courtesy of Indymedia and Base21 contributions):

May Day windowMelbourne: Thousands turned out for Melbournes protests in and around the city. The day began with a blockade of the Department of Immigration in protest at the governments treatment of asylum seekers and to make links between human rights and workers' rights. The blockade then dispersed when thousands of trade unionists joined the activities, marching through the city.

In the afternoon 250 protesters converged on Maribyrnong detention centre to express their solidarity with those detained inside. Fences were breached and people took the May Day spirit as close to the detainees as they could get. Highlights of the May Day convergence in the city included the radical cheerleaders and the orange bloc's "no one is illegal" activities.

Prague: Over 300 people met to celebrate and take part in May Day events, organised this year under the slogan "Capitalism against the people, the people against capitalism". The weather was sunny and music was supplied by the Ska sound system and anarchist and feminist speakers addressed the crowds. A march through the centre of Prague was accompanied by a samba band. The only violent incident throughout the march was a scuffle provoked by a small group of neo-nazis.

The days events ended with a speech from a member of the Czechoslovak Anarchist Federation who spoke about a new law aimed at limiting rights to gather in public, suggesting that it is being introduced prior to the NATO summit which is due to take place in Prague in November.

Istanbul: Up to one hundred thousand people attended the May Day demo in Istanbul. Unions, left wing parties, campaigners, and Kurdish organisations were there. The official theme of the day was "social justice and peace", although poverty, unemployment, the IMF, and war were also major issues.

Seoul: Terry Park (for base21, reported that: The Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU), the second largest national umbrella of labour unions, organised a May Day mass rally in downtown Seoul. Over 11,000 workers, NGO activists, students, and supporters brought colourful banners, flags, and their families to sing traditional labour and social movement songs, [and] listen to impassioned speeches.

Participants stressed pressing issues, such as the five-day work-week and the continuing migrant workers struggle for legalisation. In addition, there were a number of placards proclaiming solidarity with Palestinian resistance to Israeli encroachment, and a whole host of civil rights issues such as disability rights were voiced. One anarchist stripped naked and ran past walking marchers to protest at compulsory military service in South Korea. "When we join the military, we are forced to strip naked, and our body parts are measured and graded. It's a humiliating process", stated "Dope", a fellow anarchist.

Topics: Global justice