Several Hundred Rally Against ‘The Elite’ in Ljubljana – 11 Images and Notebook

Half Jansa Half Cerar posters at a protest in Ljubljana

There were two political gatherings in the Slovenian capital Ljubljana today.

The first, held this morning, was organized by Janez Janša, a former prime minister, and a coalition of right wing parties, who gathered to express their patriotism, to “defend Slovenia” and its values and rally against the government of Prime Minister Miro Cerar.

I didn’t attend that one.

Here are 11 images from the second which I did attend, an afternoon gathering of several hundred to rally against a host of grievances that include Slovenia’s growing poverty and unemployment, the exploitation of workers, the rise of racism and xenophobia, and the lack of opportunities for young people.

Music Cart leads marchers in a demonstration through the center of Ljubljana

Music Cart leads marchers in a demonstration through the center of Ljubljana

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Marriage Equality Supporters Gather in Ljubljana on Eve of Historic Referendum

Cross-posted from my blog, Piran Cafe

Here are a dozen shots from today’s rally of same-sex marriage and equal rights supporters in Ljubljana ahead of Sunday’s referendum in Slovenia that could overturn a marriage equality law approved by parliament last spring.

If the “za”, or “yes” campaign triumphs, Slovenia will become the first Central European and post-Communist nation to enact full marriage equality. There has been, predictably, a massive scare campaign, based mostly on outright lies and hysteria, waged by opposition groups to prevent Slovenia from making that step forward. (Aljaz Pengov Bitenc aka Pengovsky has listed a number of anti-equality faction’s fallacious and discredited arguments here.)

Slovenian parliament passed a law in March that legally recognized same-sex marriage, granting same-sex couples the same marriage rights as heterosexual couples.

However, a conservative group who call themselves ‘Za Otroke gre’ (rough translation ‘Children are at stake’) temporarily blocked the law, collected enough signatures to bring the motion to a referendum and appealed to the Constitutional Court.

Supporters of the law say that Slovenian referendum legislation doesn’t allow for human rights issues in general and those on the rights of a minority in particular, to be decided by popular vote. But in a widely criticized 5-4 decision, the Constitutional Court essentially disagreed, arguing that gay rights cannot necessarily be considered human rights, at least not until the court considers the question. That paved the way to Sunday’s referendum.

Eleven images below. For editorial use, please check out the images filed for Corbis and Demotix or get in touch.

MEP Angelika Mlinar in LjubljanaEuropean Parliament member Angelika Mlinar speaks to a rally of marriage equality supporters in the Slovenian capital Ljubljana ahead of a referendum which could overturn a marriage equality law.

MEP Tanja Fajon in LjubljanaEuropean Parliament member Tanja Fajon addresses a crowd at a rally of gay marriage supporters ahead of a referendum in Slovenia that will decide the fate of a marriage equality law.

Actress Ana Dolinar in Ljubljana, SloveniaSlovenian actress Ana Dolinar speaks to a crowd of marriage equality supporters in the Slovenian capital Ljubljana.

Marriage equality supporters in LjubljanaSupporters of marriage equality in the Slovenian capital Ljubljana gather below a statue of the country’s national poet France Preseren during a rally ahead of a referendum that could reverse a marriage equality law.

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2015 People’s Climate March in Ljubljana – 13 Images


Cross-posted from my blog, Piran Cafe

About 300 climate change activists gathered here in the Slovenian capital Ljubljana today, joining hundreds of thousands of protesters who are taking to the streets in more than 2,000 demonstrations around the world this weekend to demand action when global leaders converge in Paris for the UN Climate Change summit COP 21 which begins on Monday. [Here are links to live global coverage of the demonstrations via the BBC and The Guardian, and the Twitter hashtag #ClimateMarch. ]

The Ljubljana event was organized by the Slovenian foundation for sustainable development Umanotera, Greenpeace Slovenia and other community groups, and featured a variety of speakers including Ljubljana Mayor Zoran Janković, Ljubljana Auxiliary Bishop Msgr. Dr. Franc Šuštar as well as other activists, scholars and academics.

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Slovenian Activists Publicize Anti-Migrant Hate Speech Facebook Posts

From a Facebook post: “On trains. Freight trains heading towards Dachau.”

Just days after activists in Slovenia began collecting anti-migrant hate speech posts found on Facebook for a shaming website, posters allegedly identifying the individuals, and linking them to their remarks, began to appear in the capital Ljubljana.

Vile text from posts and comments suggesting the heinous ways in which the tens of thousands of refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants now passing through Slovenia should be slaughtered appeared next to images of the individuals who shared them, in most cases snapshots of the proverbial ‘guy or gal next door’.

It was an action that left me uncomfortable on two extreme levels: on the one hand it had a smell of vigilantism and mob rule that always rubs me the wrong way; and on the other, it clearly illustrated the confidence and comfort with which “everyday” people now openly share and support what is ostensibly modern day Nazi era rhetoric. (For the record, the latter bothers me much more than the former in this case, but that doesn’t mean one concern necessarily outweighs the other.)

The site has since removed most of the images (after asking those portrayed to make public apologies), its editors deciding to cease with the updates. It attracted a fair bit of local media attention and did stimulate some meaningful debate.

A little more on my blog here and a brief follow-up here.

Images for editorial use available via Corbis and Demotix. – or get in touch.


Slovenia: Student Petition Delays Law Granting Army Police Powers

Petition aimed to block policing powers for army in Slovenia


LJUBLJANA, SLOVENIA – A referendum drive organized by a student radio station temporarily blocked a bill passed last week that granted the army police powers to help with the refugee and migrant crisis currently overwhelming Slovenia. Organizers were collecting signatures in several cities around the country. Here are a few of my images of the petitions available via Corbis and Demotix.


Miha Tursic, Artist on Hunger Strike to Protest Lack of Arts Funding and “bureaucratization of culture” in Slovenia

Miha Tursic on Day 15 of his hunger strike in Ljubljana

LJUBLJANA, SLOVENIA – This is Miha Turšič, a Slovenian artist who today spent his 15th day on a hunger strike to protest what he calls the “bureaucratization of culture” and the lack of state funding for the arts in this small alpine nation. In my experience –mainly through the stories of exasperation shared by colleagues and friends who work in the arts here—both are big problems.

This was taken at a press conference today at the national Museum of Modern Art in Ljubljana, where Turšič has passed, during the institution’s working hours, those 15 days, largely confined to a reconstruction of the Trieste Constructivist Cabinet, originally built in 1927 for an exhibit at the Public Gardens pavilion in the Italian port city.

The space, which includes futurist paintings and levitating sculptures, was a collaboration conceived by Edvard Stepančič, Avgust Černigoj, and Josip Vlah, members of the Slovene avant-garde, and Italian futurist Giorgio Carmelich, as an early study of space, gravity and motion. A year later pioneering space travel theorist Herman Potočnik Noordung, also a Slovene, published his ground-breaking study, “The Problem of Space Travel: The Rocket Motor“.

Turšič resting in a reconstruction of the Trieste Constructivist Cabinet, originally built in 1927

Turšič resting in a reconstruction of the Trieste Constructivist Cabinet, originally built in 1927

Fast forward eight decades to 2012, when Turšič was one of three co-founders of KSEVT, the Cultural Centre of European Space Technologies, an institute promoting research in the fields of what they call “space culturalization”, whose facility is located in the Slovenian village of Vitanje where Potočnik’s family originated. As do Turšič’s reasons for taking the dramatic step he did on 30 September. And thus his connection to the cozy installation where he spends part of his day resting.

He’s doing well, he said, but tires quickly. He’s already lost eight kilograms over the past two weeks, a substantial amount for the already lanky 39 year-old, which is leaving him sapped. But he’s remained sharp and articulate as attention to his hunger strike continues to grow, and with it a media and political spotlight which has already resulted in appearances before parliamentary committees and visits by the Prime Minister and Minister of Culture.

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Hundreds March in Refugee Solidarity Rally in Ljubljana – 19 Images

Several hundred protesters gathered at a ‘Refugees Welcome’ rally here in Ljubljana today to show their solidarity with the migrants entering Europe and to demand an end to what they call the racist immigration policies by many European Union member states.

The gathering, organized by the Anti-Racist Front Without Borders, a loosely-knit coalition of several individuals and groups, was much larger than I and many others who took part anticipated. Participants chanted slogans decrying the xenophobia and fear tactics employed by many who oppose allowing the refugees, most of whom are fleeing the choas in Syria, to enter or settle in the EU.

The rally and march, which went on for about three hours and slowed traffic in several spots as it weaved its way along many of the Slovenian capital’s main streets, was peaceful but did involve one minor clash early on.

As the rally was beginning in the central Prešeren Square, two counter-demonstrators climbed a stairway of the square’s Franciscan church shouting at the demonstrators and carrying anti-migrant signs. (See images below.) One read “Europe is a Christian continent” and the other “Stop the Islamization of Europe”. Just as the first sign was torn out of the man’s hand by two demonstrators, the crowd began chanting “Nazis raus”, or “Nazis out”. The pair left shortly thereafter.

Ljubljana mayor Zoran Janković joined the rally and told organizers that the city is already prepared for the arrival of 190 refugees.

Eighteen more images below. For editorial licensing and use, please check out the images I filed for Corbis / Demotix. Or get in touch.

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Colombian Opposition Protests Peace Process In Bogota’s ’March of Dignity’ – 13 Photos

Pro-Uribe protester in Bogota's Boliver Plaza

Above is who I presume to be an ex-soldier leading a crowd of demonstrators in the Colombian national anthem earlier this afternoon at Bogota’s central Plaza Bolivar. It was the end point of the so-called “March of Dignity”, a demonstration organized by supporters of former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe and his right-wing Democratic Center party to voice their strong opposition to the ongoing peace negotiations between the government of President Juan Manuel Santos and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebels.

According to info distributed via Democratic Center’s social media channels, the event was a show of “respect for life, liberty and dignity of soldiers and policemen”, with marches and rallies taking place simultaneously in several Colombian cities.

Many signs carried by the marchers were of the “support the troops” variety, but most clearly indicated a disdain for Santos and the peace negotiations. Since he left office in 2010, Uribe has been Santos’ biggest critic, accusing his former defense minister of surrendering the country to the rebels who’ve been fighting successive Colombian governments for 51 years in what is Latin America’s longest civil conflict.

Anti-government protesters march by a mural in Bogota A mural by Colombian street artist Guache in Bogota

Unemployment, crime and general dissatisfaction over the lack of progress to bring an end to the half-century old conflict have forced Santos’ approval ratings to plummet to a record low of 22% in late April. They’ve improved slightly since but still hover at just about 30%.

Polls also indicate that few have faith that the peace process will lead to a signed agreement between the government and the FARC. According to a Datexco survey in early July, 75% of Colombians “were convinced there is no chance that a peace deal will eventually be signed”. That was the peace process’s lowest level of confidence since the talks began in late 2012.

Uribe, meanwhile, who rode approval ratings pushing 80% at the peak of his popularity in the waning years of the last decade, has watched his Teflon lose its luster. With links to right wing paramilitaries, relatives who’ve been implicated in drug trafficking and his name increasingly tied to old or newly-emerging scandals, Uribe has seen his approval numbers dip to just over 40%. He’s hardly the beacon of trust Colombians imagined half a decade ago.

Which is probably why the crowd here in Bogota today wasn’t particularly large; I estimated it to number no more than two thousand. The three police officers I asked agreed.

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