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Below are a couple of the replies I recieved after my update on June 17th 2004 in regards to what I had to say about protesters and protesting...

James Pennell wrote:
Subject: Protest
Hi again, I understand your sentiments on protests. Often they are ignored by both the public and the folks in power. In addition protest is associated with crack-brained people with matching issues. Let me tell you a little about Latvia.

In a deal with Adolf Hitler the Soviet Union took over the country. It was a disaster as 300,000 Latvians were given an all-expense paid holiday to Siberia and many Soviet citizens were instructed to colonize the place. Those Soviets were not welcome neighbors so mixing with
Latvian society was impossible. They also lost contact with friends, family and their own culture in their former homes. Everybody lost. Russians got the best jobs in government and industry. Latvians who wanted to carry on a sucessful life had to speak Russian. Meanwhile,
because the Baltic states bordered on Sweden they were used as a place to show how kind the USSR was by arranging Latvian folk dances and such public displays. The resident Russians just worked and with no other culture became "Super-Russians." In 1989 Latvia became free through the collapse of the soviet system.

Over 30% of the population of Latvia is of Russian ancestry. Despite most being born in Latvia few of them are citizens. They were obliged to take special non-citizen passports purple in color compared to a citizen's blue. Their language has been banned in the schools, in the
workplace, business and in government. The are unable to attend universities unless the can speak Latvian and pay to take exams on Latvian history and culture; becoming full citizens. Not only are they ineligible for jobs, there are stiff penalties for employers who hire workers who don't speak Latvian. Now that Latvia is in the EU it's possible to find work elsewhere if they can afford to travel and support themselves with housing, food and utilities for a month or more before they receive pay. They are not citizens of Latvia, so that would mean abandoning friends, home and family.

Should the Russian-Latvians abandon their culture and language completely? I don't know the answer. They thought as they had no political power they would try to communicate through protest of 10,000 Russian-Latvians on March 1 as Latvia joined the EU. In response there
is a new law imposing a 5 year prison sentence for protesting or planning to protest. All this can be laid at the feet of their Canadian President, who can fire the legislators individually or in total. Yes, the EU contains dictatorships. It sounds impossible, but Nazi youth groups are not only tolerated, the Latvian government erects monuments to their brief Nazi past.

I know people of Russian ancestry in Latvia. They didn't plan to be born there. Without a method of affecting their own lives they are almost at the point of picking up weapons. The government would love that. Aren't we all fighting "terrorism?" The point is this: When a government denies people everything all they have short of obliteration or war is protest.

AW wrote:
Subject: Protests Mate
As much of an ass as Merlin was and still is, sometimes silence says a lot more than shouting your lungs out. we all got the message of what he was saying pretty clearly.

As for the majority of protests your right they dont actually make much impact at the time but they usually create an awarness of an issue, and can occassionally start a ripple that turns into a wave and then actually does something!

Do you remember a little river they wanted to dam in Tasmania called the Franklin???? That was a big example of how protesting can work.

Now dont get me wrong i'm not a fukin tree hugging hippie but I can tell you that if everyone sits back and just says nothing when our lame fuckin governments just run riot then it will be a sorry fuckin heap of shit that we will all live in!

One last thing, sucked in to so called reality tv when someone actually sticks a spanner in the cog and it momentarily gets real!!!

Cheers mate keep up the good work!

Rob Norris wrote:
Subject: Regarding Protesting
At the beginning of this week’s update, you ask, "I wanna know how often protesting has actually worked?" While not a fan of protesting, one major instance does come to mind regarding the successful effects of protesting; the Vietnam war/conflict/police action/whatever.

This is the first time, in history, that public perception and opinion played a pivotal role in the outcome or necessity of war. Not that protesting works, usually the end result is quite the opposite desired by the participants; however, the war would have lasted for many, many more years if the public pressure had not been on our government to pull out or seek an end.

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