Twice this week I have come off the subway at Dundas station, and twice I have come to the surface to the sound of protest chants.

The first time it was a Free Tibet march as it proceeded up Yonge street.

a police man, with back tothe camera, stands in the middle of the street to block traffic as a Free Tibet march passes by on Yonge Street, protesters with flags and signs,

below: “Don’t forget Mr. Lingsta Tseten Dorjee, activist for non-violence.  It’s been 5 years since we lost Lingsta Tseten Dorjee”.   The banner then goes on to list Dorjee’s five demands including the return of the Dalai Lama to Tibet.

a group of young men marching in a protest, Free tibet. carrying a banner with a lot of words in both Tibetan and English, one is wrapped in a Tibetan flag, some are wearing free tibet hats,

below: More protesters with signs and placards. “Free Shokjang now”.  Shokjang is the pen name of a Tibetan blogger who was detained by the Chinese authorities in March of 2015.

people carrying protest signs, free Shokjang now, release the panchen lama

protesters walk up Yonge Street with Tibetan flag and signs, one man has a megaphone

This afternoon, it was blue flags that I saw.  They are the flags of East Turkistan, also known as the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China.  On a map you’ll find it as Xinjiang in the most westerly part of China, right next the the “stans” that became independent after the break up of the USSR (Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, etc).   The name says autonomous but there is no self-rule or self government for the Uyghurs. 

For a brief time in 1949 it was an independent country but it was invaded by communist China that same year.   Historically, East Turkistan is part of central Asia.  The people are not Chinese but are more closely related to the Turks.  The Uyghurs are the indigenous group of East Turkestan.

below: “Stop forced abortion, Freedom for East Turkistan”

women holding the blue and white flag of East Turkestan, also a sign that says stopped forced abortion in East Turkistan, wearing head scarves

below: “Islamic scholar Mohammed Salih killed in Chinese concentration camps.  We want justice.” Muhammad Salih Hajim, 82, died in custody back in January, about 40 days after he, his daughter and other relatives were detained in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang province.    They were held without charges being laid.   He was the first to translate the Quran into Uyghur.

a black man with a suitcase has stopped to talk to people protesting for a free East Turkistan, he is pointing to one of the signs and a man is explaining something to him

at a protest for free East Turkestan, protesters hold a banner that says China, Stop Massacre of Uyghars

Also today, and just around the corner… A few minutes later I ran across another protest.  This one was at the corner of Gould and Victoria streets, at Ryerson University.   It was a quiet, civilized affair – more like a dance than a protest.

below: Both sides of the right to abortion debate were present.

people protest for and against the right to have an abortion.

below:   The anti-abortion sign would be turned, the ‘file not found’ sign would be moved in front of it, repeat every couple of minutes.

protesters at a right to abortion protest, anti and pro sides, both with a large sign.

below: It seemed to be a debate or a dialogue rather than a protest even though the people involved might disagree.   For such an emotional and polarizing subject they were being respectful and engaging.  At least they have the right to protest…. and to counter protest.

protesters at a right to abortion protest, anti and pro sides, both with a large signs.

 

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