When tens, hundreds or thousands take to the street to claim their rights, whatever those are, their fight must be known. The protest is the last resort for people to make themselves heard, when all the other ways have gone silent. But above all, the protest is a right.
By protesting, people are trying to make their country a better place, whether they want to overthrow a dictator or a corrupt president, to save a park, to change a mining law or just for their rights to be recognised. Their struggle for positive change towards freedom, democracy and human rights should never be ignored.
Today’s protest is not yesterday’s uprising. The current generation of protesters consists of mainly educated young people, well anchored in the reality they live in and perfectly capable of understanding the dynamics of power and its abuses. This is why many of the latest protests in Europe have burst following a political decision: the refusal of former Ukrainian president Victor Yanukovich to sign the Association Treaty with the European Union or the decision of Istanbul’s authorities to transform Gezi Park into a shopping mall or the proposal of a faulty health reform law in Romania. People feel more and more stranded from the decision process, a process that nevertheless affects their daily lives and the lives of their communities. They are fed up with corruption and the constriction of the space where their voice can be heard.
The protest of this generation becomes a fight for the public space, that space of anyone and everyone, entrusted in the public authority’s hands. But when that authority fails to represent people’s interests, occupying public spaces becomes a symbol for claiming and regaining the power of the people.