Empathy begins at home. Many of those reading this will, in the past days and months, have fought, grafted and struggled to build spaces where human beings can come together, support one another in a shared sense of loving grief. Grief for the damage we see all around us; grief for the future we fear for our children or ourselves.
For many, it’s only by means of this hard-won togetherness that our eyes can be opened to another harsh truth: that the emergency is not a future prospect, but is in fact a fact of life for countless people and communities around the world, and has been for decades.
With their own conditions stable for now, XR communities in Paris and London joined in a wave of solidarity for fallen Earth Defenders: those for whom standing up for life and for the natural world has meant death. The idea of this supportive wave came from XR Argentina, but was taken up as far away as Dublin, Cape Town and Islamabad.
Empathy begins at home – but it doesn’t end there. It takes us beyond borders, beyond divisions, to a greater understanding of the immensity of what’s at stake.
We must follow it: it’s only with a global, collective moment of awakening that we can hope to face this crisis.
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Day of the Defenders
9 OCT | Buenos Aires, Santiago, Islamabad, Dublin, Cape Town, London
Last year, 164 activists were killed in the Global South for trying to defend their lands from corporate extractivism. Yesterday, rebels all over the world held vigils to honour them, coming together in a global solidarity action.
In Buenos Aires, a large group walked to the UN building, each member dressed in black, holding a candle, and carrying a sign bearing the name of one of the 164 murdered activists.
They read out a statement and knelt on the pavement to write the names of the fallen activists on the ground in chalk.
In Santiago, rebels took part in a solemn procession which brought them to the main historical square Plaza de Armas. They held a vigil to commemorate the 164, first by speaking out every name in turn and then by observing a minute’s silence in which to contemplate the incredible sacrifice that had been made.
In Islamabad, rebels silently constructed a gallows outside the National Press Club and staged the hanging of two rebels who stood precariously on blocks of ice. Behind them stood a large sign listing the names of the 164.
In Dublin, rebels knelt outside the main gates of the Coal Marketing Company with their hands covered in fake blood. CMC has coordinated the sale and delivery of over 450 million tonnes of coal from Cerrejón, a vast open-pit coal mine in Colombia.
In Cape Town, a solemn street vigil was held where rebels listened to speeches and stood to remember those who gave their lives.
In London, 164 rebels held a procession ending in a die-in at Trafalgar Square, the name-bearing signs resting on their bodies.
The figure of 164 deaths is only an estimate. The real figure is likely to be much higher. Two indigenous activists are murdered every week for defending their lands from Western extractivist corporations, and their names are rarely known widely around the world.
Today at least, the fallen defenders were remembered all around the planet they fought to save.
Four Bridges and a Die-in
9 OCT | Berlin, Germany
Day three of Berlin’s Rebellion saw an old blockade fall but many new ones spring up to take its place.
The Big Star roundabout blockade, XR Berlin’s longest standing act of disruption, was finally cleared out yesterday. Rebels made sure to leave the area spotless, with only defiant chalk graffiti remaining as the traffic returned after a 58-hour break.
But by the early hours of the morning, 300 rebels had already blocked the Marschallbrücke bridge beside the Reichstag, locking onto a giant wooden life raft.
And to the East, a serious blockade had begun on the four-lane Mühlendammbrücke bridge. 1,500 rebels turned up just in time for the rush-hour traffic. It took until the afternoon for the police to clear what was a particularly high-energy yet peaceful demonstration.
Not content with blockading two major bridges, rebels set upon taking two more, and traffic in the city centre was brought to a near standstill. There was also a die-in outside the Chancellery, Angela Merkel’s office, for good measure.
To top off a big day, XR Youth blockaded a major junction in the busy shopping zone of Kurfurstendamm, demanding an end to business-as-usual and rampant consumerism. For the many shoppers passing through, the message will have been hard to miss.
In a grim metaphor for the ongoing extermination and extinction of so much of our planet’s natural life, the police are picking rebels off the street with steady assurance – 92 year-olds and Pink Octopi alike have been removed.
Authorities act in accordance with laws designed not to protect the wellbeing of citizens, but to uphold power and protect an insatiable growth-based status quo.
Arrests in this rebellion (over 600 and counting) were very much expected. More of a shock is the police tactic of forcefully confiscating shelter, food and water, and anything that might allow disabled people to conveniently participate.
In its eagerness to drown out our message of bad news, the government seems happy to give up its duty of care, and in doing so threaten the paramount right to protest.
Despite this treatment, rebels have risen magnificently to the occasion and continue to show profound resilience and courage.
Day 3 saw a litany of creative, democratic, informed, inclusive and visionary outpourings of the rebellious spirit: mothers nursed their infants, Youth and Elders came together for a theatrical ‘die in’, Gail Bradbrook and Geroge Monbiot spoke, and we have big plans for City Airport today.
The PM’s dad is certainly impressed, and Benedict Cumberbatch joined us for the night. But most significantly, over 400 MPs came to collect a young tree to plant from us. ‘[Extinction Rebellion] has changed the conversation’, claims Ed Miliband.
And we’re going to keep changing it. Whatever it takes.
Please come along to our unifying march on Saturday as we gather to express our grief for the loss of life on our planet. Beginning in St James Park at 1.30pm and ending in Russell Square.
For a fuller update with news from all the sites, read more here.
London rebels, check out our Rebellion Needs page for practical ways you can help rebels on the ground right now and other essential info.
And for real-time rebellion, tune into our brand new rebel radio! You can call in, from wherever you are, on +44 7367 900650.
Broadening perspectives in Paris
09 OCT | Place de Chatelet and beyond, Paris, France
Still no arrests in Paris today. Rebels from the Place de Chatelet tried to tickle the police and expand their area onto the busy Rue de Rivoli, block the private spaces of a nearby McDonalds and Louis Vuitton shop – but nothing prompted a police response.
Beyond actions, the day was one of reflection and horizon-expanding.
We had a visit from two indigenous activists from Cauca in Colombia, María and Samuel. They thanked French rebels for joining the struggle for Mother Nature and encouraged them to continue, but reminded us that their activist struggle back home is not only for Nature but for their communities and lives.
According to Samuel, in the past month, 47 indigenous representatives or guards have been killed in the Cauca region alone. Every day there is a rebellion, and the question of life or death is an ever-present concern. Our day ended with a tribute and silent procession.
The environmental revolution will be built on solidarity and intercultural bonds, or it will not be built at all.
For more from XR France, check out their wonderful Gazette.
Chile calls for change
6- 8 OCT | Santiago, Chile
Rebels in Santiago have been standing up and lying down in defense of the planet.
Chilean rebels held a family friendly die-in at Persa Bío Bío, a blockade at Alameda Av., one of the busiest streets of the city, and a protest against the fast fashion industry in Costanera Centre Mall.
On Saturday 12th, there will be a march on “El día del Encuentro de Dos Mundos” [Two Worlds Meeting), the remembrance day of Christopher Columbus arriving in America in 1492.
Rebels will be there to ensure that the accompanying legacy of colonialism, genocide and ecocide is not forgotten.
South Africa Toxic Gas at Oil & Power Conference
9 OCT | Cape Town, South Africa
XR Cape Town and XR Winelands took non-violent direct action yesterday against the ‘Africa Oil and Power’ conference.
The die-in performance involved rebels suffocating in vibrant clouds of ‘toxic’ gas, and was staged to draw attention to the crimes against humanity and the ecocide that the conference is facilitating.
On its website the conference boasts of being a “platform” for countries across Africa to present oil exploration and other fossil fuel projects and “get deals signed”. No mention is made of the suffering stored up for the world’s most vulnerable with each new project undertaken.
These omissions are especially conspicuous given the susceptibility of sub-Saharan Africa to climate breakdown, a topic that South Africa’s government and media has resolutely failed to tackle. This is still a landscape where new gas finds are celebrated and talk of ‘clean coal’ is left unquestioned.
XR Quebec Party for the Planet
The IPCC report, published on 8th October 2018, was supposed to mark a ‘line in the sand’ on climate action.
A year later, XR Quebec organized a birthday party on a busy intersection in the heart of downtown to highlight how government inaction had crossed that very line. And what a party it was! 200 people came together for a celebration of life and rebellion, with vegan cake, XR birthday hats and live music!
But the symbolism didn’t end there: the original report was brought together by 40 countries, and it happened that 40 rebels were arrested because they refused to end the party when told.
The arrestable support team didn’t miss a beat, providing pillows, legal advice and healthy snacks to the brave rebels!
At least 148 rebels have been arrested in Australia since the start of the Spring Rebellion. 48 XR groups are taking part in non-violent direct action across the country.
Rebels are committed to disrupt until their government listens and acts!
In Melbourne, rebels held a silent vigil on the steps of state parliament before marching through the city, blocking Flinders Street, before being forcibly removed by police. On Wednesday, a civil DISCO-Bedience took place with rebels of all ages getting funky.
On Wednesday, Tasmania ramped up actions with a Funeral for Life in Nipaluna / Hobart to represent the generations that won’t exist because of inaction on climate change.
In an interview, Elly Baxter mentioned: “The cornerstone of democracy is the right to protest. The government is supposed to report to us, the people. At the moment, they’re reporting to fossil fuel companies, and vested interests. And it’s not good enough”.
See more of the beautiful and courageous action from the International Rebellion in XR Unchained. There is so much to tell.
- Rebels explain why they are prepared to be arrested for the cause in a striking photo essay
- Inspiring scenes in Austria as the rebels transform a bridge
- XR UK’s rebel nursing mothers on the BBC
- Aussie rebels flashmob to ‘Stayin’ Alive’ in Melbourne
- Enjoy Jonathan Pie’s hilarious take on the debate surrounding Extinction Rebellion – ‘Do you want to be a hypocrite or an arsehole?’
- In light of today’s report that just 20 fossil fuel companies have produced 35% of the carbon dioxide and methane since 1965, George Monbiot encourages everyone to change the system and join Extinction Rebellion.
Humans of XR
‘We need workers eventually to take industrial strike action, that’s why there’s XR trades unionists meeting here on the 12th October. That will be the next big step, when ordinary organised workers actually take on board the slogan ‘A living wage on a liveable planet’.
I’m not an Arrestable today because I am a person of colour, and I have a bit of an antagonistic relationship with the police. I’d loath to do a nice chit-chat with the Police, I’ll leave that to the white rebels who are backing me.
It’s fantastic that here in London they’ve got climate refugees from the global south at the centre of their arguments, because it is people of colour that are impacted adversely.’
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As we enter this crucial phase in human history, our Rebellion will need money to make sure our message is heard. Anything you can give is appreciated.