The Face of the Protest

13.11.2013 § 5 Comments

This photo was taken by Facebook user Stefan Stefanov. It shows Bulgarian protester Desi Nikolova interacting with a police officer on the barricades outside what appears to be the Bulgarian National Bank building (someone please correct me on the exact location). It depicts the frustration and high tensions of the protests in Bulgaria, which have continued (mostly) peacefully for over 150 days, but the story behind it adds a few telling and heartening details. To quote Desi, the protester:

Some of the police officers were well-intentioned. The one whose shoulders I’m holding had a little blood on his nose, I think he’d scraped it somehow. I saw how he was protecting the people and trying to prevent other police officers from beating us. I began to cry and I told him to be safe. He replied “Hold on. Everything will be okay.” There were tears in his eyes…

Please share this photo by linking to its original link or through my translation here and spread the word. There are sensible police officers, many of whom are walking the fine line of maintaining peace without harming anyone, and there is no stopping human decency, civic action and the demands for change.

Protest Poetry #6: “The fight is hard and pitiless”

04.08.2013 § Leave a comment

Bilingual poetry in support of the protests in Bulgaria. English version from Anthology of Bulgarian Poetry (translated by Peter Tempest)

The fight is hard and pitiless

The fight is hard and pitiless.
The fight is epic, as they say.
I fell. Another takes my place –
Why single out a name?

After the firing squad – the worms.
Thus does the simple logic go.
But in the storm we’ll be with you,
My people, for we loved you so.

2 p.m. – 23.VII.1942

Nikola Vaptsarov

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Protest Poetry #5: “Elegy”

03.08.2013 § Leave a comment

Bilingual poetry in support of the protests in Bulgaria. English translation is mine.

Elegy

Tell me, tell me, o unhappy people,
Who lulls you in the cradle of slavery?
Is it the one who our Saviour speared
On the cross in the ribs without pity,
Or the one who for years sang to thee:
“Endure, for it is your duty.”

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Protest Poetry #4: “Come see our plight”

02.08.2013 § Leave a comment

Bilingual poetry in support of the protests in Bulgaria. English version from Anthology of Bulgarian Poetry (translated by Peter Tempest)

Come see our plight

I hear one cry of deep despair
In cottage, tavern – everywhere.
Each peasant home a pitiful sight
That mind and soul can hardly bear!
“Come see our plight!” « Read the rest of this entry »

Protest Poetry #3: “Where do you lie, faithful love for our people?”

31.07.2013 § Leave a comment

Bilingual poetry in support of the protests in Bulgaria. English translation is mine.

Where do you lie, faithful love for our people?

Where do you lie, faithful love for our people
Where do you gleam, spark of patriotism?
O grow to feed a mighty flame
And stoke a blazing fire today
In our young people’s beating hearts
to roam the woods and take up arms.

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Protest Poetry #2: “You cannot quench what’s not for quenching”

30.07.2013 § Leave a comment

Bilingual poetry in support of the protests in Bulgaria. English version from Anthology of Bulgarian Poetry (translated by Peter Tempest)

You cannot quench what’s not for quenching

We’re glad when on a sunny day
The golden glowing sun has risen,
But more so when a single ray
Of sunlight penetrates a prison.
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Protest Poetry #1: “Patriot”

29.07.2013 § Leave a comment

Bilingual poetry in support of the protests in Bulgaria. English version from Anthology of Bulgarian Poetry (translated by Peter Tempest)

Patriot

No sacrifice he deems too small
For freedom or education
Self-sacrificing? Not at all.
He sacrifices the nation. « Read the rest of this entry »

“We have all the patience in the world and twice as much brains”

21.07.2013 § 2 Comments

Almost 40 days into the protests in Bulgaria, here’s an update on the situation. This is a brilliant piece by Samuil Petkov (a.k.a. zhelyo), a member of the NE!Novinite collective, originally published at OFFNews.bg.

Many have expressed criticism of the spirit of the protest. For 35 peaceful nights, tens of thousands of people have walked serenely with a smile on their lips and a loved one on their arm, denouncing the political class and demanding the resignation of the government. Nothing more, nothing less.

Skeptics believe that “carnivals” and “parades” will yield no results. They do not overtly demand more radical actions, but their patience is exhausted. Or their confidence in the protesters’ cause. Or they inherently rely on [the Bulgarian Socialist Party], blindly believing that they are a real alternative to GERB.

The blame for the impasse in the country is thrown at the crowd, which has, for over a month, peacefully resisted the provocations that ruined the February protests and distorted them. No blood, no aggression. Even verbal abuse and swearing are minimized – unprecedented for any group of people unknown to each other. The ones not being blamed are the ones committing blunder after blunder at the head of our state. Figures like [Volen] Siderov, [Anton] Koutev and [Tatyana] Burudjieva hurl ridiculous qualifications at the protesters, and the prime minister is searching for his balls, pitifully silent.

Yes, the Parliament and the Cabinet are playing deaf. Or they’re distorting the truth. We’re paid, we’re bloated, we’re few, we’re terrorists. They have claimed we are anything except what we are: all kinds.

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Reblog: “Protesting With The Police On Your Side”

19.06.2013 § Leave a comment

It seems the world is out on the street, protesting for change. From Taksim Square in Istanbul, through the streets of Athens and Rio to the catastrophe in Syria one theme stands out: protesters clashing with aggressive and often brutal police and government forces.

The exception to the rule turns out to be a little corner of Europe, a tiny and often forgotten part of the world facing its own large scale social unrest. Since the 14 June Bulgaria has been out on the streets. Every day since, tens of thousands of protesters have been filling the streets of the capital Sofia along with numerous other cities.

By HuffPo contributor Boyan Benev. Read the full post at Huffington Post

Civic Power: Bulgarian Democracy in Action

19.06.2013 § Leave a comment

Bulgaria is in the throes of a political crisis (some background). The interim cabinet’s appointment of a college dropout with known Mafia ties as head of DANS (the Bulgarian NSA) sent thousands of Bulgarians onto the streets in protest. Not being directly involved, I have a few quick comments before I quote a few friends who are there right now.

Peaceful Protest

Despite the heightened atmosphere, so far the protests have been overwhelmingly peaceful. Bulgarians are exercising their right to dissent, and the fundamental democratic tenet of allowing them to do so without interference is being upheld by the government. This is a seemingly rare occurrence in a world where the US, Brazil, Turkey and, I’m sorry to say, Canada, have recently shown aggressive responses to peaceful protests. Not only that, but the police is largely sympathetic and refuses to be drawn into confrontations or ordered around by the government. Just today the police union released a declaration of support with the protests:

The union of Ministry of the Interior staff wishes to remind the politicians and assure Bulgarian society that MoI officers are not private employees serving the interests of one or another political party or coalition. MoI officers are part of Bulgarian society and are fully and solely in the service of public interest. We fully support the equitable social and economic demands of the citizens. Our friends, relatives, and members of our families are among the protesters.

It is with the least motivation that employees in the Ministry of Interior stand with face and chest in front of one or another party headquarters and defend the political elite from the “love” of the people.

(Translated from this Union declaration)

The protesters have returned the respect granted to them by police and security forces in spades. Boyan Benev, writing for HuffPo, had this anecdote:

…gathered on the Eagles’ Bridge yesterday evening I saw a friend wandering through the crowd carrying two cases of 500ml mineral water. I made a quip about him stocking up for the protest when he replied:

“This water isn’t for us, it’s for the police. These men and women have been standing here in the 30 degree sun all afternoon and have shown us only respect. I think it’s time we showed some back.”

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