Day 9 in Extinction Rebellion across the world was a day of contrasts.
In London, we witnessed a disturbing attack on civil rights – rightly condemned by Amnesty International, lawyers and politicians – and on the same day, our society’s elders came out to protest (UK, Australia) with humour and bravery. Wisdom meeting repression.
We saw rebels come together in joyful celebration to mark the ending of their respective phases of rebellion but, like New Year festivities, heralding new beginnings too; such as in Ireland and the Netherlands, where already Greenpeace is said to be planning a ‘protestival’ at Schiphol Airport in December.
‘Joyful’ also describes the first outing of India’s beautiful Red Brigade in Mumbai: in red salwar kameez and sarees, this new addition to the movement perfectly illustrated the mingling of the local and the global that characterises XR. As red is the colour of auspicious occasions in India, we feel doubly blessed to have this new Brigade on our side.
A final mention for the bravery of the Hong Kong rebels, who staged actions under extremely volatile conditions but were very well received by the public.
We have already rewritten the rules. If now, more need to be broken for humanity and the planet’s sake, then so be it.
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London protest ban: An illegal order?
On Monday night, British police issued a blanket ban on XR protests in London, effectively criminalising any Extinction Rebellion public assembly.
The move drew widespread criticism from campaigners, politicians, journalists, and lawyers. Greta Thunberg tweeted: ‘If standing up against the climate and ecological breakdown and for humanity is against the rules then the rules must be broken’.
Amnesty called the ban ‘chilling and unlawful’, but is it illegal? The Human Rights Act protects the right to ‘freedom of assembly and association’, including peaceful protest.
Authorities can restrict these fundamental rights under certain circumstances, but only when absolutely necessary, and the action must be proportionate. A blanket ban feels like neither, and will be tested in the courts.
Today, claimants including Caroline Lucas, Clive Lewis, George Monbiot, Jenny Jones, and Green MEP Ellie Chowns (herself arrested in Trafalgar Square) are bringing an action on behalf of XR, challenging the order via judicial review in the High Court.
‘The ban is a disproportionate and unprecedented curtailment of the right to free speech and free assembly’, says Tobias Garnett, a human rights lawyer.
Read the full story here.
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Hong Kong’s Calling
12-13 OCT | Hong Kong
Several small but significant XR actions took place in Hong Kong over the weekend. On Saturday afternoon, over a dozen rebels staged a die-in at Central Pier. They give a brief speech, brandished banners and chanted warnings about the climate and ecological crisis.
On Sunday, a larger group participated in a Funeral March for the Earth in Mong Kok. The public reacted very positively, with both tourists and locals showing a keen interest.
Given the delicate state of the region, we are incredibly grateful to the bravery and diligence of these rebels in this difficult time.
Stay strong, XR Hong Kong. We are with you!
OCT 13 | Mumbai and Visakhapatnam, India
Last Sunday, Mumbai saw its first outing of India’s Red Brigade sporting red sarees and salwar kameez.
On a day when protests were prohibited, the Indian Rebels found a creative way to make their demands visible and their voices heard, reminding people that ‘Temperatures are rising, our rivers are drying up and forests are being destroyed.
We face floods on one end and droughts on the other, while the rich continue to destroy nature to extract coal from our land.’
Meanwhile, rebels in Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh led a silent march. Volunteers wore masks over their mouths and bore placards that highlighted the impending crisis and the threat to livelihoods and security from the effects of climate breakdown.
Australia – Nanna Knows Best!
15 OCT | Hobart/Nipaluna, Australia
Everybody knows you don’t mess with Nanna, especially when she’s knitting. However, that’s exactly what authorities chose to do when they arrested three amazing women in Hobart.
The Knitting Nannas blocked the entrance to Parliament House in a true demonstration of elder wisdom, something which seems dearly lacking within the government.
Cass, 63, said: ‘I am a retired mental health clinician. I have never been arrested. I have four grandchildren.
I have watched the destruction of our natural world by those who see nature as something to be assigned a dollar value instead of being valued as our life support system.
Petitions, emails, phone calls, volunteering for environmental groups – I’ve actively tried all those for many years. The time for real action is now. This is my stand for a better future.’
Nannas, we salute you!
Dublin challenged – walk now or swim later
OCT 12 | Dublin, Ireland
Ireland’s International Rebellion Week finished with some fun and poignant actions in Dublin. First, rebels had a blue kayak race down Westmoreland St (video here) and held a die-in on the main bridge in the city centre to highlight the threat from rising sea levels.
Later, children held posters stating who they wanted to become when they grew up … IF they are given the chance to grow up.
Earlier in the week, rebels took their protest into fast fashion store Penneys (Irish Primark) and appealed to shoppers to consider the impact of supporting the brand.
XR Ireland planned their closing celebration in the style of New Year’s Eve: a beginning rather than an end, with a samba band, a countdown, and the forming of a huge circle to share daily highlights.
Ronan, an arrested rebel, spoke about solidarity being impossible to imprison, and the courage that comes with it. He reminded rebels that nonviolence is not a passive avoidance of the use of force, but an active engagement in love and compassion.
In a regen workshop, rebels faced imagined descendents and had to answer difficult questions such as ‘What kind of ancestor do you want to be?’ A Lord Mayor came to the camp and, when challenged if he was ready to take unpopular decisions, replied, ‘That is why I am here’.
Ireland’s Rebellion Week might be over, but their Rebellion has only just begun.
London – Grandparents assemble!
15 OCT | London, UK
In true rebellious spirit, thousands claimed their right to protest on the streets defying the disproportionate ban. In their first coordinated action, XR Grandparents gathered en masse in front of Buckingham Palace.
Together with their children and grandchildren, they resisted this new wave of police intimidation in song, chanting ‘I would rather be a crusty than extinct’. Watch this inspirational personal account of why some grandparents and parents are risking their freedom for the future of their children.
Earlier at the Department for Transport, co-founder Gail Bradbrook practiced ‘the noble art of window smashing’, as first popularised by Emmeline Pankhurst, calling for a plan to transition the UK to a zero-carbon transport system.
While across town, rebels brought a last supper blocking the road in front of the MI5 building to mark food insecurity on a dying planet.
Rebels also gathered in public defiance at Trafalgar Square, where their right to protest peacefully was supported by Sian Berry, co-leader of the Green Party, and several MEPs.
In the evening, they were joined by rebels from Millbank, who marched to Westminster and held vigils at Whitehall and Trafalgar Square, lighting a candle to mark this attack on their civil rights.
Is that Boris flouting the ban in a boat? Find out more in the London newsletter.
See more of the beautiful and courageous action from the International Rebellion in XR Unchained. There is so much to tell
- An interesting article on how Extinction Rebellion is transforming existing politics
- A video interview with two Dutch rebel brothers whose hammock strings were cut by a tourist as they hung under a canal bridge in Amsterdam
- An interview with Jeremy Corbyn: ‘Extinction Rebellion are a wake-up call’
- Representatives from XR have been invited to the Welsh Government climate change conference today
‘I got involved in XR last year in October, when I set up the first strike in the UK for Fridays for Future. It was very small at the start, with just ten people. It has been really cool to watch it grow.
I have also set up XR Kids, an independent group for 8-12 year olds, because I felt that there wasn’t the right space for me in XR and in this emergency we need a space for rebels of all ages to rebel.
We did our first action in the International Rebellion last week. We marched from Trafalgar Square to The Week Junior on Fleet Street, to demand they tell the truth and start reporting on the climate crisis. On the way we stopped and held a die-in, it drew a lot of attention.
I have chosen this spot for my portrait, to promote the Truthteller.life platform that I have been involved with. It’s a website where you can tell us what you know about the emergency. I hope that it will help reveal the full truth.
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Thank you for reading! Stay strong, rebels, your energy is so valued.
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