Time to rally

  • 2008-05-30
  • Monika Hanley in cooperation with BNS

Photo: Nermina filipovic

RIGA- Rally season is upon us again. This week has already seen crowdsgather as supporters rally for rights of the disabled, the price of milk, andtomorrow, the Riga Pride parade of international acclaim.  

 About 100 people gathered today in EsplanadePark in Riga to garner support for disabled rights.

Those present held signs of reading: "17th and 18thparagraphs of the Convention," "I wish to live in the society,""I wish to be trained in craft" and "I wish and am capable ofworking in a paying job."

 Meanwhile, therepresentatives and leaders of various disabled peoples' organizationsaddressed the crowd from a small stage urging the government to sign the UNConvention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and stressed that thedisabled are first of all humans.

Latvian Welfare Minister Iveta Purne, during her address tothe participants of the rally expressed her joy in the opportunity that thedisabled people have found to gather.

 "It is good thatyou are together and that you are united by the common idea, that you speak ofyour problems and make the society listen to them," Purne said.

 The minister saidthat 15 percent of the EU residents are people with disabilities or chronicdiseases, which is a considerable figure to be taken account of.

 "It is importantto create the conditions in Latviafor ensuring the same rights for the disabled people as enjoyed by the rest ofthe population. Latviabeing the last of the EU member states to sign the convention is painfulenough, as all it requires from us is a good will gesture," Purne said.

 She repeated severaltimes during her address that the Latvian Welfare Ministry has done everythingin its power to ensure the convention gets signed as soon as possible.

 Purne alsounderscored that financial means and several years would be necessary forimplementing the convention and ensuring the sufficient environmentalaccessibility for the disabled people, which is why signing of the UNconvention should be done as soon as possible.

"The convention is a step towards the state where thereare no alienated and spare people, the state where all residents areequal," Purne said.


Another, larger crowd gathered in Doma square to protest theprice of milk and the "unregulated appetite of retailers and theinefficiency of milk processors". Four dairy trucks were present, withpeople rallying top of them and dairy farmers giving out free milk.

Those present also held tombstone shaped signs that read ""Sugar1926 - 2006", "Bacon 1924 - ?", "Grain 1924 - ?" and"Milk 1924 -?"

One of the speakers and representatives of the dairy industrysaid " you can call this inflation normal but something must be done to stopit."

He went on to say that there is an open dialogue between thefarmers and the Greens and Farmers union/party and he hoped that they would beable to find "the light at the end of this tunnel" to allow milk production togo on as before.

 May 31 will see hundreds marching through the main streetsof Riga torally for Gay, Lesbian and transgender rights, with the right to assembly atthe top of the list. Mozaika, an NGO in support of these fundamental rights, isorganizing the protest and has gained much international attention, includingfrom Amnesty International.

Mozaika founder Linda Freimane stated that she expected lessanti-protest, although there will be the same amount of police as last year,and the protest will be in a street, not enclosed in a park.