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5 000+ gather on Wenceslas Square for enormous multicultural PeaceParty

Prague, 4.11.2009 8:38, (ROMEA)

Romea.cz reports that yesterday more than 5 000 young people gathered on Wenceslas Square in Prague to demonstrate against violence and war. Two hours into the event, some of them set out on a march through the city center accompanied by floats and music. The gathering was part of the World March for Peace and Non-Violence. Many of the young people primarily came to see the finalists of the Česko Slovenské SuperStar competition, who sang at the demonstration along with other guest performers. The gathering ended shortly after 20:30 with the release of dozens of Thai wish lanterns, which lit up the night sky over the center of Prague.

The World March for Peace and Non-Violence started a month ago in New Zealand and will end two months from now in the Andes. On Sunday it was held in Copenhagen before coming to the Czech Republic.

The Multicultural PeaceParty started at 17:00. Prague police spokesperson Tomáš Hulan said approximately 700 participants gathered during the first hour, blocking the upper part of Wenceslas Square, so officers rerouted traffic. Long lines of cars formed on the square and around it, irritating some drivers. The situation deteriorated when an accident occurred in Štěpánská street. Traffic on Wilson Street came to a temporary standstill.

Musicians performed during the demonstration on a podium constructed beneath the statue of St. Wenceslas. The square rang with Spanish rhythms, the music of the Roma group Bengas, and many other guest performers. The greatest applause was given to the finalists of this year’s Česko Slovenské SuperStar competition, who sang John Lennon’s “Imagine” with the Harlem Gospel choir from the US as the audience joined in. Many people released their Thai wish lanterns into the air during the performances, which floated over the centre of Prague.

Just after 19:00, approximately 2 000 demonstrators set off on a march down Vodičková street to Masarykové nábřeží. Demonstrators at the head of the march carried banners reading World March for Peace. They were accompanied by a passenger vehicle with the “Earth” on its roof and two trucks with about 20 people on them singing along to amplified music. The demonstrators then returned to Wenceslas Square along Národní třída with the assistance of police.

The march returned to the statue of St. Wenceslas after roughly an hour. The high point of the whole event was the mass release of the Thai lanterns, which are meant to fulfill the wishes of those who light them. As the Harlem Gospel choir sang, dozens of lanterns floated above Wenceslas Square and were photographed by many tourists. Most people started to leave the square shortly before 21:00, but the music did not end until after 21:30.

The manifesto for the march embodies five basic aims: Global nuclear disarmament, the removal of invading armies from occupied territories, a gradual reduction in the number of conventional weapons, signing of non-aggression pacts, and the refusal of government to use war as a means of conflict resolution. The manifesto and the Charter for a World without Violence, which have been signed by Nobel Peace Prize winners, are addressed to governments. The organizers of the march are also demanding a reduction in military expenditures and a redirection of financing to benefit civil society and humanitarian aid.

The main coordinator of the march, Rafael de la Rubia, who is also the spokesperson of the organization World Without Wars, says around 500 such peace actions have taken place in various countries worldwide. Even though the march is officially scheduled to end on 2 January, de la Rubia is convinced it will continue. "It will not stop until it succeeds in eliminating all nuclear weapons and leading to disarmament,” he told journalists on Monday.

ČTK, Gwendolyn Albert, ROMEA, ROMEA, ČTK, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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