The past few weeks have seen a number of demonstrations and rallies around the globe. Whether it's about joining the EU or forming a new country, protesters around the world haven't been shy about expressing their feelings. Here are some powerful images from these protests.
On Thursday, lawmakers in Spain's northeastern Catalonia region voted to demand the ability to hold a referendum on its independence from Spain. Although the Spanish government has repeatedly said that any such move towards secession would be unconstitutional, continued protests and support from the region's pro-independence party have once again generated such discussion. Here, a pro-dependence protester sits with the pro-Catalonian independence flag, a bag on her head and a sign that reads: "My name is Catalonia."
With a population of 7.5 million, its own language and culture and a robust independent economy, Catalonia has been pushing for independence for decades. Thursday's referendum was passed with 87 votes in favor, 43 against and three abstentions.
Anti-government protests have been filling the streets of Bangkok for weeks and demonstrators display their dissatisfaction with Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra who is accused of running a corrupt government with poorly planned policies. Some believe the protests have lost the interest of the urban middle class, but demonstrations, like this one in central Bangkok on Friday, have continued.
Unfortunately, the demonstration took a bleak and violent turn when a grenade was lobbed into the crowd, wounding 36 people. The blast rose tensions and broke the relative calm that had settled in the city after several days of relative peace that seemed to suggest the protests had been running out of steam.
On Saturday, Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender activists formed a flash mob during a demonstration to support Ukraine's integration with the EU. During the protest, Yuri Lutsenko, Ukraine's ex-interior minister turned opposition leader, was injured as anti-government demonstrators and police clashed, signalling the high level of tensions in the country after weeks of protests.
On Tuesday, a group of activists and former Chernobyl nuclear plant works clashed with police near the Ukrainian parliament while demanding the government return benefits annulled several years ago.
In December, a group of loosely affiliated activists held four days of rallies in various Italian cities in what became known as the "Pitchfork" protests. Protesters included road hauliers, small businessmen, low-paid workers, the unemployed and students, and have all been somewhat united in a distaste for various Italian politicians, excessive state regulations and austerity-driven tax hikes.
In Italy, unemployment has hit a record 41% for people under the age of 25 and is around 12% for the rest of the population. At the time, Interior Minister Angelino Alfano said that such untamed unrest could "lead to a spiral of rebellion against national and European institutions."
The banner roughly translates to, "Students, laborers, construction workers ... the sun does not rise in Brussels"