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South African student solidarity demo humbles diplomat and cops
The power of protest was clear on 23 October. Angry students gave orders to a senior diplomat and prevented the arrest of a peaceful demonstrator.
Over 200 demonstrated in central London in solidarity with South African students fighting tuition fee hikes.
South Africans studying in Britain who wanted to support the struggle back home organised the event. Others taking inspiration from student militancy in South Africa joined them.
The upbeat, confident mood of the demonstration was clear to see. Students marched through the streets, blocking traffic while singing and dancing.
On reaching the South African high commission (embassy), marchers demanded the high commissioner come out to receive their demands. They weren't going to take no for an answer!
The demonstration's size and energy eventually forced the high commissioner out. He was made to sit on the street. Organisers read him demands for free education and an end to privatisation.
Police then tried to arrest one of the marchers for climbing the building. The demonstration surrounded officers until they released the peaceful protester.
In South Africa, mass protests of students and workers have made President Jacob Zuma halt the fee rise (see page 14). In London, a high commissioner had to leave his cushy office and was humbled.
Imagine the power of protest when linked to co-ordinated strikes against cuts, fees and sell-offs.
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