News Release

Next for Occupy: Global Protests? Nine Years After February 15, 2003


AMIR AMIRANI, a.amirani at
Amirani is producer-director of the forthcoming documentary “We Are Many” about the February 15, 2003 global protests by millions against the impending invasion of Iraq. He said today: “In December, Time Magazine named its Person of the Year, ‘The Protestor,’ in a tribute to the Arab uprisings and the subsequent Occupy movement that swept across the U.S. and the world, writing: ‘In 2011, protesters didn’t just voice their complaints; they changed the world.’ Not only Time Magazine, but also many others now suggest that we are living in an ‘Age of Protest.’

“But if you wanted to know anything about the true origins of the momentous events of 2011, the article gave no clues — it suggested that the roots lay in 2011 alone, such as the Tunisian fruit seller, Mohamed Bouazizi, who set himself on fire in a public square, backed by social media. Indeed, in setting the context for the return of protest, it claimed that protest had been dead for at least 20 years, if not since the Vietnam War and the civil rights era.

“This is to ignore the biggest demonstration in human history, which took place on February 15, 2003. ‘We Are Many’ is the untold story of that day, and argues that this was the birth of a new kind of social movement — global, coordinated, nonsectarian, tech savvy and the most diverse in history. It was an event that took place on all seven continents, in around 800 cities, and involved up to 15 million people, some say higher. It has huge global relevance today, for citizens everywhere concerned with issues of peace, non-violence, the Middle East and civil society, not to mention globalization and the economic crisis.

“The sheer size and the utterly international character of the protest on February 15, 2003, mark it as a new phenomenon in human history. … The story of the events that led up to the day, and the day itself, and its legacy, is as dramatic and surprising as any thriller. It is a story that unfolds over a unique decade that has seen changes in our world taking place on a scale and speed never seen before.

“And yet, almost no light has been shed on these titanic shifts in global politics. And just as governments largely dismiss social movements, so the voices of their leaders and the people go unheard. Until now, nobody has done the considerable journalistic spadework needed to piece together the how, what, why, who, and where of the day.

“This film will reveal the many surprising and powerful legacies of the protest, a day seen by many as the ‘Genesis Story’ of our current era. It is a powerful chronicle of the intense struggles that attended the birth of this new movement, the latest fruits of which can be seen today in the remarkable unfolding events of the Arab uprisings. Some of the people we are in contact with in Cairo referenced February 15 and the global tide of anti-war protests at that time as an inspiration, which sowed the seeds for the movements in Egypt. Many are wondering what’s next for the Occupy movement. February 15 might give the answer: Coordinated global protests might point the way forward for communities all around the world seeking social justice to reclaim their lives and fight for a better world in which they have a true stake.”