Wednesday, April 1, 2009
G-20 protesters flock to London
S Kalyana Ramanathan / London April 02, 2009,
Protestors in thousands marking “Financial Fools’ Day” marched from all over London and converged outside the Bank of England headquarters today. The city will play host to the G-20 meeting (officially known as the London Summit) tomorrow.
Leaders and heads of central banks from over 20 countries will attend the summit to discuss ways and means to combat the current global financial crisis.
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will be participating in the meet and is expected to be among the five national leaders who will meet US President Barack Obama tomorrow.
The protest march today condemned the global financial meltdown and the ways banks all over the world were functioning. Anti-war supporters also took part in the march in large numbers.
Despite the extra precaution taken by city administrators and the Met (London Police), protestors outnumbered the police by several times. The high-decibel protest, however (until this report went to print), went off peacefully. Expecting the protestors to storm the city today and tomorrow, the Met has cancelled leaves of all its officers, keeping thousands of officers ready for deployment if matters go out of hand. An estimated £7-10 million is being spent by the Met on the security arrangements.
Over a dozen groups from all over London converged outside UK’s central bank headquarters around 11 am. Though the general battle cry was against bankers, peace marchers protesting the war in Afghanistan, Iraq and West Bank too participated. Placards seen at the march ranged from simple messages like “Democracy is an illusion” to profane messages that condemned the global financial crisis.
UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Chancellor Alistair Darling were the most popular targets among the protesters. Interestingly, US President Barack Obama, who is now in London on his first foreign visit since he assumed office in January this year, was spared by protestors.
Though the protest was conducted on the eve of the G-20 summit in London tomorrow, April 1 (popularly known as the Fool’s Day) is also celebrated as the Financial Fools’ Day. This is also the day when many institutions in Europe and Asia open their books of accounts afresh for yet another financial/accounting year.