Protesters across the Asia-Pacific region on Saturday joined worldwide demonstrations inspired by the “Occupy Wall Street” and “Indignants” movements.
Rallies were 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.
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 capitalists and the upper class to monopolise the wealth,” he told AFP.
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!”.
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 per cent 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 leaks.
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 per cent, by one percent and for one percent,” a female activist shouted through a loudspeaker.
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 percent.”
Published in The Express Tribune, October 16th, 2011.