The Red Brigade appears at a huge Climate Strike march in Seoul, South Korea. Photo: Juho Kim
This issue: Rebellion in Berlin, Oslo, Boston | Croatia Climate Camp | Iran Protests
Rebellion season has begun! In this issue you’ll find reports of not one but three rebel uprisings - in Germany, Norway, and America.
Want to know why police struggled all evening to remove a piano from the streets of Berlin? How the rebellion in Oslo had to accommodate military training exercises? Or how rebels froze rush hour traffic right across Boston? Scroll on down to Action Highlights.
There you’ll also find a report on Croatia’s first ever Climate Camp, which concluded with a daring rebel blockade of a nearby gas terminal.
Women have led the uprising in Iran. Find out why in Solidarity Corner.
This issue, we also introduce Solidarity Corner - a space to explore protests outside our movement that nevertheless deserve our support. We investigate the mass protests in Iran that were sparked by the murder of a young woman in police custody.
Finally, in Humans of XR we hear from a rebel who has just finished an epic 4000 km trek from the southern Spanish city of Granada to the permafrost of Northern Finland.
While the rebellions keep coming, so too does the extreme weather. In the last month we have seen lives and livelihoods lost to floods in Nigeria, drought in Somalia, and hurricanes in the Caribbean and coasts of North America.
Am I only dreaming? Is irony dead? Is this really the best our overlords have to offer?
New research emphasises that it’s the rich and powerful (and their financial investments) that are most responsible for rising carbon emissions. With world leaders weeks away from meeting in Egypt for COP27, the mainstream media will soon be proclaiming all kinds of breakthrough deals and solemn pledges.
But they will be made in an event sponsored by Coca-Cola (the world’s worst plastic polluter) and hosted by a country where political protest gets you tortured. If it is hope you are looking for, you should look elsewhere.
You should look to the courageous rebels below, and see what you can do to support the rebellions still to come.
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- Action Highlights: Berlin Rebellion, Oslo Rebellion, Boston Rebellion, Croatian Climate Camp.
- Action Roundup: S. Korea, Congo, Netherlands, UK, S. Africa, Uganda, Italy.
- Solidarity Corner: Iran’s Protesters.
- Humans of XR: Marta, Spain.
- Announcements: XR Global Blog Wants You.
Play It Again, Rebel.
17 - 20 SEP | Berlin, Germany
Police clear rebels from a pink oil rig. Photo: Stefan Müller
Picture the scene: a police bulldozer knocks into a towering pink oil rig, stood in the centre of Berlin. The three-metre-tall rig crashes to the ground, and rebel onlookers cheer! Finally, the German government’s fossil fuel addiction has come to an end!
This symbolic moment was brought to you by the Herbstrebellion, Berlin’s Autumn Rebellion, which rallied more than 350 activists from across Germany and beyond.
Rebels pitched their tents in a park close to the ministries that are the beating heart of German politics. The colourful camp offered training, workshops, and most importantly, hot food and tea (urgently needed during the cold, rainy days of early autumn). It quickly became home to the rebels involved in the four days of action.
The utopian street party. Police weren’t invited, but turned up anyway. Photo: Stefan Müller
The rebellion kicked off with the creation of a traffic-free utopia on a busy intersection. While haystacks and banners blocked traffic, XR offered a glimpse of what urban life without cars could look like.
Music was performed from the roof of a pink trailer, people danced in the middle of the street, a mobile kitchen provided food, and an open piano let people investigate their musical talent.
Police didn’t wait long to crash the party. Many rebels resisted by simply sitting down, forcing the police to carry them off one by one. But it was the piano that proved to be the true master of disruption. Its lack of wheels and novel human attachments (two glued-on rebels) kept the police busy late into the evening.
A piano made for tinkling, jamming and serious disruption. Photo: Tenzin Heatherbell
Two days later, the pink oil rig blocked a street near the Ministry of the Environment, with rebels glued to it top-to-bottom. The Oil-Heads performed an artistic indictment of our addiction to fossil fuels, the rain poured for hours, and the police finally swept in to send everyone home.
Rebels later blockaded the headquarters of the Green Party, who are part of the country’s current coalition government. They condemned its continuing support for investments in fossil fuels, and its tired adherence to economic growth.
For one Berlin rebel, the rebellion showed XR’s continued unity and strength: “Many local groups in Germany were weakened during the pandemic. These actions brought them together, provided a moment where they could see they’re not alone. A lot of people still have energy and want to change things. XR is still very much alive.”
Shockingly Few Arrests During Norway’s Rebellion
20 - 27 SEP | Oslo, Norway
Rebels lock-on to the tracks to stop a train carrying jet fuel reach Oslo’s airport.
The action planners of XR Norway were out of luck: their scheduled rebellion fell on the same week as large-scale military training across Oslo. Lawyers warned that disrupting a military drill could lead to years in prison. Whether by coincidence or design, their rebellion plan would have to be quickly altered.
Thankfully, rebels from across Norway still came together to launch a series of successful actions. First up was a blockade both inside and outside the Norwegian Ministry of Oil and Energy, organised by XR Youth Norway.
The protest targeted state-owned oil company Equinor for its ecocidal extraction of Argentine shale oil, and more specifically, its planned exploration of Vaca Muerta. The shale oil-rich region is home to the indigenous Mapuche people, and a representative joined the young rebels outside the ministry.
XR Youth Norway and a Mapuche spokesperson outside the Norwegian Ministry of Oil and Energy. More rebels occupied the lobby inside.
Tensions were high as soldiers moved around the area, but police ended up only arresting five rebels, a surprisingly low number for Norwegian police, and a clear shift away from repressive older tactics.
Days later, rebels blocked a 300-metre-long train transporting jet fuel from Oslo’s harbour to its airport, with a separate outreach team engaging the jet-setters inside the airport. Although the rebels on the train tracks did agree to unlock themselves, the police were again unexpectedly lenient. Not a single arrest was made.
The protests culminated in a six-hour-long blockade outside Oslo’s courthouse, where a fellow rebel’s trial was underway. The verdict - a suspended jail term and a hefty fine, marking an escalation of the state’s punishment of peaceful protest. At the same time, the peaceful protest outside the courthouse was tolerated.
Overall, for reasons out of XR Norway’s control, this was a subdued rebellion that didn’t capture the media attention of previous uprisings. But do not worry - Norwegian rebels are undeterred in their fight against fossil fuel dependency.
Bridge Blocked So State Sees Sense
17 - 25 SEP | Boston, USA
Rebels march onto the bridge despite state and city police outnumbering them. Photo: David L Ryan / Boston Globe
More than 50 rebels blockaded a major bridge into downtown Boston, disrupting rush hour traffic across the city, as separate groups marched to the bridge from different locations.
Despite a heavy police presence (after details of the action were leaked via the media) the blockade lasted over two hours. 15 rebels were arrested and released on bail. All now face court hearings and further fines. Police also seized two vehicles that rebels used to block traffic, one of which still contained protest supplies.
There was chanting, speeches and music before a 40-foot banner was unfurled.
The action was part of XR Boston’s Week of Rebellion, nine consecutive days of rebel action and events. Activists from across Massachusetts converged on the city to demand that the state ban new fossil fuel infrastructure.
Massachusetts has already greenlit the construction of a new natural gas and diesel-fired power plant in the region, and is reviewing plans for a Boston energy company to invest up to $65m in a new gas pipeline.
A rebel pastes artwork along ‘Graffiti Alley’ in Boston’s Central Square.
Other highlights from the Week of Rebellion included a special teach-in on Boston harbour by Scientist Rebellion, with talks on climate tipping points from an atmospheric physicist and climate scientists.
Rebels also rallied on the steps of the State House to demand climate justice for all, held a mass bike ride through the city to coincide with World Car Free Day, and pasted XR artworks across Boston’s Central Square.
Croatia’s First Climate Camp Blocks Gas
14 - 18 SEP | Krk, Croatia
Climate Campers blockade the entrance to a new gas terminal on the island of Krk.
XR Zagreb has held a five-day climate camp - the first in Croatia’s history - and finished it with an improvised action at a nearby gas terminal.
80 activists from right across Europe, and even one from America, attended the Adriatic Climate Camp on a beautiful island off Croatia’s coast. Participants got to share skills, attend legal training, and bond with their fellow activists. There was plenty of non-protest stuff too, like drumming sessions and a bike repair workshop.
Not far from where the camp was held, stood a brand new state-owned gas terminal. It was built to receive gas imported from the United States, replacing the gas that was once piped in from Russia.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine should have been the wake-up call that finally got Europe to transition away from fossil fuels. Instead, governments like Croatia’s have scrambled to import dirty fuels from elsewhere.
Rebels from France, Italy, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Ukraine, Russia, Austria, Germany, Lithuania, UK and the US settle down for a climate camp lunch.
50 climate campers decided to take a stand. Unfortunately, the campsite owners tipped off the police, and officers were waiting for the activists at the terminal, along with a police boat and a private security boat armed with a water cannon.
The brave rebels still managed to blockade the terminal’s entrance for two hours. And a few plucky campers decided to try and swim to the terminal, though the boats and strong winds quickly pushed them back.
XR Zagreb was established in 2020 when local scientists’ demands for climate action were ignored by politicians. The small but hard-working group has organised over 30 protests since then, including two climate marches in the past year.
The Adriatic Climate Camp was a huge success and covered by news media across the Balkans. XR Zagreb is already making plans for a second camp next year.
24 SEP | Seoul, South Korea: The Red Rebel Brigade appeared at a Global Climate Strike rally through the city. Thousands of Korean activists from over 150 environmental organisations took part in the rally. For more Global Climate Strike action around the world, check out this month’s Newsletter XTRA. Photos: Juho Kim
26 SEP | Goma, Democratic Republic Congo: Rebels hold a concert for the climate to highlight how local wetlands and Virunga National Park are being opened up for oil exploration. The music, talks, and artistic performances called on the government to cancel their recent auctions for drilling rights.
27 SEP | The Hague, Netherlands: Rebels joined an alliance of activists outside the office of Total. In solidarity with Ugandan and Tanzanian communities, they protested the ecocidal East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP).
1 OCT | London, UK: Rebels joined Just Stop Oil activists, worker’s unions and other community organisations to protest the cost-of-living crisis sweeping the UK. Energy prices are sky-high thanks to gross government mismanagement. Activists occupied 3 bridges before moving on to parliament. Just Stop Oil vowed to return each day of October until the government changed course. Over 100 activists have been arrested so far.
4 OCT | Cape Town, South Africa: Rebels protest outside Africa Oil Week - an annual conference where the oil and gas industry makes dirty deals with government ministers to exploit the continent's oil and gas resources.
4 OCT | Kampala, Uganda: Police arrest and bundle nine university students into a jeep during a peaceful street protest against EACOP. The activists were denied bail and imprisoned by the local court pending trial, but allowed out on bail 6 days later.
5 OCT | Rome, Italy: A rebel from Ultima Generazione ends his hunger strike after an incredible 26 days. He wanted an audience with the country’s newly elected leaders, but received only assurances that his letter of demands would be passed on to them. Ultima Generazione launched a wave of roadblocks in disgust at their politicians’ indifference.
So many rebel actions happened this month, we can’t fit them all into one newsletter. Head on over to Newsletter XTRA to find out about actions in Argentina, Colombia, Austria, Hungary, Pakistan, Syria, Poland, France, Australia & more. Newsletter XTRA: A feast for the eyes and extra fuel for the soul!
“Woman. Life. Freedom!” Solidarity with the Iranian Protesters
School girls in Iran remove their hijabs. One holds a sign saying ‘Woman. Life. Freedom’ - the rallying cry of the uprising. Photo: @discotehran.nyc
Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish woman, was visiting Tehran with her family when she was arrested by Iran’s ‘morality’ police. She was not covering her head ‘properly’ and was taken to a detention centre where she was beaten into a coma. Three days later, she died from the assault.
Her murder reignited the fight for women’s freedom in Iran, which was further fuelled by simmering anger at the dire economic situation brought on by international sanctions. Within hours of her killing, people flooded the streets protesting the government’s mandatory hijab laws.
Protesters released videos of women burning their hijabs, encircled by a cordon of men protecting them, and of women boldly walking through Tehran’s streets with their heads uncovered.
Iranian women burn their hijabs on the streets of Tehran. Photo: @discotehran.nyc
Videos emerged of women solemnly cutting their hair over the coffins and graves of loved ones killed by state authorities, both a traditional sign of mourning and a signal of defiance towards the government.
The protests have evolved into a broader call for an overhaul of the government. They continue to be led by women and, more recently, school girls. Unlike other recent protests in Iran, they cut across class, ethnic, and geographic lines.
The government’s response has been swift and brutal. The Internet was quickly shut down, and under the veil of technological darkness authorities have arrested protesters en masse, torturing and killing many. The recent rape and killing of two teenage girls has only strengthened the protesters’ resolve to continue their uprising.
Two Iranian women defiantly eat in a restaurant with their heads uncovered. Photo: @discotehran.nyc
The Iranian women’s uprising has quickly drawn support from around the world. Iranian women in diaspora held rallies globally to back the protests, and celebrities and politicians publicly cut their hair in solidarity with Iranians’ struggle for freedom.
Calls of “Woman. Life. Freedom.” have been ringing across the world for nearly a month now, with no sign of quieting. While there are many speculations as to how this uprising may be resolved, one thing is certain - these women-led protests are not new, but part of a generational fight for freedom.
Humans of XR:
My name is Marta, I am an artist, PhD student, and an activist for XR and Scientist Rebellion. I have been heavily involved with XR since early 2019, when it emerged in the UK. I immediately knew it was the movement we needed.
The current impacts of the climate crisis, such as the heatwaves, droughts, and floods, are so extreme that I did not expect to face them until much later, perhaps at the end of my existence.
The evidence is clear. We have just a few years to mitigate the worst case-scenarios of this catastrophe. That is why I decided to fully dedicate my life to civil resistance, to force a radical system change through disobedience and nonviolent direct action.
As an artist, I understand how artistic practices can be vehicles that transform life, our relationship with ourselves, society, and the natural world. My PhD research focuses on this.
I am currently at the end of an art and activism project called ‘2020: The Walk’ in which I travelled mostly on foot all the way from Granada to the permafrost of north Finland. During the 4000 kilometre-long journey I have connected with fellow rebels and other activists, and raised awareness of the no-fly movement as well as XR.
‘2020: The Walk’ is being documented on video, a soon-to-be-published book, and on social media in collaboration with the artist Oscar Martín, who accompanied me on the walk.
The walk was supposed to start in 2020, but was postponed due to the pandemic. We finally departed from Granada in April of this year, and I write this from an artist residency in north Finland, where we are going to film the last scenes of ‘2020: The Walk’ in the permafrost.
The walk will officially conclude later this year with an action in Germany with Scientist Rebellion. During my years in XR, I have been incredibly inspired by the commitment of other rebels, united by a fierce love of life and the values that preserve it. We are all interdependent beings, and we need each other.
If you know (or are) a rebel somewhere in the world with a story to tell, get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Finnish rebels are occupying their capital right now as part of their Rebellion For Nature. Expect a full report in the next issue. Sign: ‘80% want more nature protection. Now that’s democracy.’
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