The demonstration was part of a worldwide day of protest against the Sultan of Brunei -- dubbed #StopTheSultan -- for his anti-worker policies and human rights abuses against women and LGBT people. Actions were held in front of luxury hotels owned by the Sultan, as well as Brunei's embassies and consulates. Participating cities included Beverly Hills, California; London, United Kingdom; Brussels, Belgium; Canberra, Australia; Delhi, India; Manila, the Philippines; Ottawa, Canada; Milan, Italy; Rome, Italy; and Paris, France.
The Sultan of Brunei's investment agency owns the Hotel Bel-Air in Los Angeles, along with a string of other luxury hotels. In 2009, the hotel used renovations as an excuse to fire unionized workers and replace most of them with new hires, leaving dedicated staff out in the cold and decimating the union. Workers struggled to find new jobs, in some cases going through bankruptcy and losing homes and cars.
In addition to union-busting, Brunei has also adopted a new penal code that punishes women who give birth out of wedlock with up to two years of jail time, and punishes homosexuality through death by stoning. As Amnesty International has said, the new code "legalizes cruel and inhuman punishments. It makes a mockery of the country's international human rights commitments and must be revoked immediately."
Armed with a megaphone and signs reading "Don't Sleep With the Sultan!", the D.C. protesters marched on the sidewalk in front of the embassy chanting slogans like "Throw glitter, not stones!" and "We're gonna beat back the Sultan!" They demonstrated for a little over an hour as embassy staff and security personnel watched from inside the building.
Groups represented at the protest include UNITE HERE! Local 25, Pride at Work, AFL-CIO, Working America, Communications Workers of America, and 1AngryOldLesbian.org.
Additional photos from today's action are after the jump.