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Protest Organized at Austurvöllur for Icelandic National Day, June 17

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Protest Organized at Austurvöllur for Icelandic National Day, June 17

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Photo: Páll Stefánsson.

Over 3,300 people have RSVPd on Facebook to a protest against the incumbent administration, held at Austurvöllur tomorrow, on June 17, the Icelandic National Day.

The protest, entitled Away with the administration!—We all protest, is scheduled to begin at 11:00 AM—at the same time the program of festivities jointly organized by the Icelandic parliament and the Prime Minister’s Office will commence, also at Austurvöllur.

The name of the protest, ‘Vér mótmælum öll’, is a reference to a famous interaction between Jón Sigurðsson, the leader of the Icelandic independence movement in the 19th century, and Danish Governor Jørgen Ditlev Trampe at the National Assembly of 1851.

Trampe had delivered a proposal on behalf of the Danish Crown that would have annexed Iceland to Denmark, making it an amt, the contemporary equivalent of a county.

A counterproposal was presented by a delegation of Icelanders, but Trampe opposed it and dissolved the assembly in the name of the King.

This infuriated Jón, who interjected to speak out against the governor’s actions, and declared them illegal—prompting all other delegates to rise from their seats and speak in unison the now legendary words ‘Vér mótmælum allir’, meaning ‘We all protest.’

Jón Sigurðsson was born on June 17, 1811, and it was in honor of his legacy that that day was chosen as Iceland’s National Day.

On the event’s Facebook page, the organizers of the protest have outlined their mission statement:

“This administration has taken away the right to strike from wage earners and seriously undermined our health care system. They’ve lowered taxes and fees for the fisheries while they argue that there isn’t any money in the national fund for sign-language interpreters. This administration has gone back on its word repeatedly and broken one campaign promise after another. The government has neglected its duties to the most vulnerable, people of low income, the homeless and senior citizens. Democracy isn’t just something that happens every four years, this administration does not have the mandate of the people.”

Several people have spoken out in protest of the protest, including Reykjavík City Council member Guðfinna Jóhanna Guðmundsdóttir of the Progressive Party, Vísir reports.

“Do these people have absolutely no concern for the children that are having fun that day? Just hope that these people can pull their heads out of their rear ends just for this one day,” said Guðfinna on her Facebook page.

Editor in chief at DV, Kolbrún Bergþórsdóttir, in the editorial of this morning’s paper asked people to find a way to celebrate the National Day without anger, and added that “until now there has been a silent agreement in Icelandic society not to stir anything up on this holiday.”

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