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Bulgaria: Thousands Take Part in Anti-ACTA Protests

Hundreds of anti-ACTA protests were scheduled all over Europe for Saturday, February 11, 2012. Bulgaria was no exception. On Friday, a video [bg] calling for people to stand up against the controversial treaty was posted in the Facebook group Ние казваме “НЕ” на ACTA! / Bulgaria says “NO” to ACTA!.

On Saturday morning, the demonstrations in Bulgaria began, with hundreds gathering in front of the National Cultural Centre in the capital city of Sofia. The crowd rapidly grew, as people were marching towards the political navel of the country. (Indeed, in Sofia, the Cabinet's building, the Parliament and the Presidential palace face each other in the very centre of the capital.)

A huge crowd walking towards the Parliament in Sofia, Bulgaria, during the February 11 anti-ACTA protest. Photo by Ruslan Trad (CC-by-SA 3.0)

A huge crowd walking towards the Parliament in Sofia, Bulgaria, during the February 11 anti-ACTA protest. Photo by Ruslan Trad (CC-by-SA 3.0)

Global Voices author Ruslan Trad was live-streaming the protests, along with netizen Asen Genov. A video of the protesters marching ahead, by YouTube user selin4eto, is here.

People were in a great mood, despite the cold (-6°C in Sofia and streets covered with snow). User @kislorot (Anton Georgiev) tweeted [bg]:

Полицията е задържала мъж с 0,5 грама торенти.

The police has arrested a man with 0.5g of torrents.
A nice poster in the middle of the anti-ACTA rally in Sofia. Photo by Ruslan Trad (CC-by-SA 3.0)

A nice poster in the middle of the anti-ACTA rally in Sofia. Photo by Ruslan Trad (CC-by-SA 3.0)

According to one of the protesters (@reguligence, Emil A. Georgiev), there were between 5,000 and 10,000 people only in Sofia:

The anti-#ACTA protest in #Sofia went well and peacefull, for the first time in years a number between 5000-10000 gathered. #stopacta

Bulgarian blogger Eneya Worodecky distributed books she could not keep at home due to lack of space. She announced this great initiative – Дарете книга, спрете ACTA/Stop ACTA, share a book [bg] – on her blog:

Можете да дарите книги. Идеята на много компании е, че вие по-скоро сте заели за временно ползване музиката/филмите/сериалите/програмите, които използвате, че не са ваши и не можете да правите с тях каквото прецените. Само че книгите са си ваши. Вие може да ги подарите на когото решите, независимо че според идеите на АСТА това може да се погледне като нарушаване на авторските права.

Затова това, което можете да направите е, съберете книги и ги раздайте. Единственото условие е да напишете на първата страница или да сложите листче защо го правите.

You can donate books. The idea of many companies is that you rather have borrowed for temporary use the music/movies/serials/programs you use, that is they are not yours and you cannot do with them whatever you want to. But the books are yours. You can gift them to whomever you choose, although, according to ACTA's ideas, it can be seen as copyright infringement.So what you can do is collect books and distribute them. The only condition is to write on the first page or put a piece of paper in why you're doing so.

According to Worodecky, she offered ten books to people in the streets during this morning's demonstration in Sofia, and people were greatly astonished but very happy. She is currently searching for those who got the books offered, to post pictures of them, and she is inviting other people to offer, be it books or anything else they wish to offer.

"I am searching for people who got books offered today :) Hey, if you are one of them, make a pic and upload it. And you too, offer a book or anything you like. :)" [Credit: Screenshot by the author]
“I am searching for people who got books offered today :) Hey, if you are one of them, make a pic and upload it. And you too, offer a book or anything you like. :)” [Credit: Screenshot by the author]

Sofia was not the only city to see protests spreading: they took place in 14 other cities and towns in Bulgaria. Plovdiv, the second largest city, saw 400-500 people marching to say “No” to ACTA.

User @ivaylovs reported [bg]:

В Пловдив беше супер. Една жена попита, това протеста за #ACTA ли е? Аз казах – май този е ПРОТИВ. Може да не бяхме 4 хл., а 400, но бяхме.

It was great in Plovdiv. A woman asked: is this the protest for #ACTA? I said: seems like this one is AGAINST. We weren't 4,000, we were only 400, but we were there.

(In the end, it seems there was more like a thousand of them, rather than 400.)

Varna (photos by Valentin Stoykov are here), Pernik, and Burgas also witnessed the demonstrations, despite the cold. A famous Bulgarian writer, screenwriter and politician Lyuben Dilov, Jr. [bg] was one of those who joined the protests in Burgas, stating that the ACTA was harmful for creators, for culture in general and for the society as a whole.

As the demonstrations were taking place, many people – such as @Plamy [bg] – complained about silence in the mainstream media:

Не мога да повярвам, че хората се вдигат да протестират срещу нещо, което има толкова голямо значение за всички, а “МЕДИИТЕ” мълчат като РИБИ

I cannot believe it that people have risen and are protesting against something that is so very important for everyone, but the “MEDIA” are as silent as FISH are.

Indeed, only three online editions talked about the anti-ACTA mobilization. Furthermore, one of the principal TV channels, bTV (formerly owned by Rupert Murdoch), dedicated very little time to the ongoing protest – and were duly criticised and mocked by netizens, such as @LuboAlamanov [bg]:

Хехе, бТВ дават за хурки, но само споменаха, че “в 15 града има протести”. Фън! :)))

Hehe, bTV is telling about distaffs, but only mentioned that “there are protests in 15 towns.” Fun! :)))
In front of the People's Assembly. The writing on the building reads: "Unity makes strength". Photo by Ruslan Trad (CC-by-SA 3.0)

In front of the People's Assembly. The writing on the building reads: "Unity makes strength". Photo by Ruslan Trad (CC-by-SA 3.0)

In the end, people were even more motivated to stand against the treaty.

User @yradunchev (Yordan Radunchev) wrote [bg]:

прибрах се. краката ми са ледени, но ми е топло от вътре. толкова много хора не съм очаквал. #ACTA няма да я бъде, ако действаме все така.

Back home. My feet are frozen, but I feel warm inside. I didn't expect so many people. #ACTA won't make it if we all act this way.

User @yovko (Yovko Lambrev) added [bg]:

Има надежда! Никога не съм си представял, че толкова много хора в този кучи студ ще излязат в защита на Интернет! #ACTA #fb

There is hope! I never thought that so many people in this bitchy cold would go out to defend the Internet! #ACTA #fb

On his blog Tabakoff.eu, Dimitar Tabakov swiftly uploaded his pictures [bg] from Sofia. At the end of the posting, he pointed out:

Добре щеше да е някой народен представител да излезне и да каже нещо, но уви, толкова им е достойнството.

It would have been good if some MP had come out and said something, but, alas, this is how far their dignity goes.

Indeed, no official declaration has been issued so far. Will the government take into account the people's “NO” – or will they pass over and adopt the unpopular regulation anyway?

And even though much remains to be done, Saturday's mobilization has definitely showed a breach in the Bulgarians’ apathy wall.

  • http://ruslantrad.com Ruslan Trad

    Next time we will be there again :)

  • Стамат Йорданов

    Great article,great job.Even though we have much bigger problems in Bulgaria than ACTA i feel proud and happy that young people my age are starting to wake up.It was about time.This is not the last you`ll see of us !

  • Black March Boycott 2012

    Black March Boycott protest ACTA, do NOT buy Movies, Music or Video Games for the month of March. Get the attention the entertainment industry by having them watch their profit margin drop.

    google Black March, Operation Black March, Black March Protest and Black March Boycott. starts 3-1-2012 spread the word……

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