Global Newsletter #79

A Tale of Two Coal Mines

Friday, August 11, 2023 by Extinction Rebellion

A Turkish activist tries to stop the illegal destruction of a forest by a coal mining company. Photo: kazimkizil

This issue: XR Cymru vs. Coal Mine | Turkish Villagers vs. Coal Mine | This Is Rigged | XR Colombia

Dear rebel,

July was the hottest month on record for planet Earth. Temperatures soared across the globe, resulting in vast wildfires across North America, Europe, and northern Africa, and flash flooding over the baked soils of Asia.

With hellish heat waves, vanishing Antarctic ice, and oceans as warm as hot tubs, it’s difficult to argue with the UN chief’s assessment that the “era of global boiling has arrived.”

For even the most privileged and powerful of our planet, the climate crisis is no longer an abstract threat. This season, its disastrous effects are visible through the windows or on the TV screens of every continent. Yet the governments of the Global North remain wedded to their fossil fuels. In some cases, they’ve doubled down.

XR UK’s beloved pink boat sails in to blockade an illegal coal mine in Wales.

How to explain such suicidal decision-making? Yes, our leaders (and their political parties) are being enriched by Big Oil money. And capitalism has normalised a mindset where short-term profit is all that matters. But how can any human take the cash, if the cost is the world burning, civilisation ending, and billions dying?

A co-founder of XR has an intriguing explanation for this disconnect, one based on the anatomy of the human brain, the psychology of the human mind, and ancient social trauma. You can hear her expand on her theory, and explain what it means for the climate movement, in Must Reads.

In Action Highlights, we focus on two remarkable protests thousands of miles apart, both against coal mines operating illegally but being protected by the state. Whether it be the green valleys of Wales or the ancient forests of Turkey, it seems there is one (increasingly repressive) law for peaceful protesters, and no laws at all for ecocidal coal companies.

Activists from new group This Is Rigged (TIR) occupy a Scottish oil tanker truck.

This issue, we also get to know a daring new climate group promising to shut down the Scottish oil industry in Splinter Group of the Month, and we meet a rebel from XR Orinoquía, based in eastern Colombia, in Humans of XR.

Finally, if you would like to be a part of the small team who put this newsletter together, then head to Announcements. While we can’t offer you money, we can offer you a wonderful way to connect with inspiring rebels around the world and restore some of your faith in this strange, beautiful, disastrous species we collectively call humanity.

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  • Action Highlights: XR Cymru vs. Coal Mine, Turkish Villagers vs. Coal Mine
  • Action Round Up: Netherlands, Canada, Japan, USA, UK, Austria, Uganda, Spain, Italy, Nigeria, Tanzania, Rwanda, Hungary, Sweden
  • Splinter Group of the Month: This Is Rigged
  • Humans of XR: Cesar, Colombia
  • Must Reads: What Next For XR, EACOP Exploits Ugandans, Carbon Capture Disaster, Adani Coal Resistance in India
  • Announcements: Join the Global Newsletter, Adriatic Climate Camp 2023.

Action Highlights

Pink Boat Shuts Down Coal Pirates

5 - 8 JULY | Merthyr Tydfil, Wales, UK

Four of the rebel crew were arrested under bail conditions that banned them from discussing the action.

Early one morning, a bright pink boat appeared at the entrance to the Ffos-y-Fran coal mine, close to the town of Merthyr Tydfil in South Wales. A brave crew of over a dozen XR Cymru (XR Wales) and XR UK rebels put down anchor across the access road of the UK’s largest opencast coal mine, effectively shutting it down.

This filthy eyesore of a mine has been extracting carbon-rich coal, polluting the local area, and directly harming human health for sixteen years. However, the mine has been operating illegally since September 2022, when the local council rejected the mine owner’s application to continue extracting coal at the site.

Campaigners – both locals and those from further afield – have been fighting for years to get the mine closed down, but this most recent breach of the law pushed them to take bolder action.

An alliance of rebels, activists & locals rally at the edge of the Ffos-y-Fran coal mine.

That's why several rebels chained themselves to their iconic boat, while others held banners and placards around it. South Wales Police officers were swift to arrive, but waited until the next day to arrest four of the activists.

Days later a family-friendly march to the mine organised by Coal Action Network was attended by over 100 people from XR, Just Stop Oil, Greenpeace, and more.

Outrageous new UK protest laws mean the locked-on rebels could receive one-year jail terms, and their harsh bail conditions stipulated that they not discuss the action on any social media or public platform.

Local rebels and other activists are determined to shut down the illegal mine.

Meanwhile, the company that owns the illegally-running mine is appealing the council’s decision to end their licence. This process could take up to a year, during which time they plan to continue operating!

Even a final demand from the UK Coal Authority to stop extraction, delivered weeks after the protest, has not been enough to close the mine.

The same activist alliance is now planning its next move. Rebels are determined to end coal mining in Ffos-y-Fran, and will do everything in their power to get this illegal blight on the landscape – and the climate – closed for good.

Follow XR Cymru (XR Wales) on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Villagers Blockade Ancient Forest

24 - 30 JULY | Akbelen, Turkey

Turkish activists & villagers face riot police as they try to stop a forest being razed for a coal mine. Photo: kazimkizil

Local villagers and activists from across Turkey (some of them former rebels) united to try to stop an ancient forest from being illegally destroyed to make way for a coal mine. Police broke up the blockade using a water cannon, pepper spray, and violence. 40 people were arrested across the six days of protest.

The tree-felling was illegal because of an ongoing lawsuit between the villagers and the mining company, which is co-owned by two giant corporations that also own power plants in the area and have close ties with the government.

The villagers put out a call for help when workers wielding chainsaws entered the forest accompanied by a large police guard. Buses full of activists, organised by many Turkish climate groups, started arriving from cities across Turkey within hours, though many were intercepted by police en route.

Riot police used a water cannon, pepper spray, and violence to break the blockade.

Faced with riot police happy to use pepper spray and baton strikes, the mostly elderly villagers and peaceful activists were unable to stop the forest being massacred. The villagers had battled in the courts for four years to save their forest, but it took less than one week for 65,000 trees to be felled.

This is not the end of the story, though. The villagers and activists have vowed to keep fighting for what forest remains, and to stop the open pit coal mine from expanding until the lawsuit is ruled on. A further 37 villages could be threatened if the corporations fully exploit the lignite coal seam being mined.

A campaign has started to boycott Limak Holding, one of the mega-corporations involved. There are calls for Barcelona football club to publicly cancel a contract for Limak to renovate its stadium, too. And more actions are still being planned by activists across Turkey.

Villagers watch as their forest is destroyed. But they have vowed to keep fighting.

These protests are not being planned by XR as such, since XR Turkey dissolved in 2020 after a rebel was accused of sexual abuse, and efforts to relaunch the group the next year floundered. Members moved on to other environmental groups.

But despite the recent re-election of an illiberal government that happily jails activists, journalists, and political opponents, activism in Turkey is flourishing. Two years ago a huge number of local environmental groups, leftist political parties, trade unions, and academics, came together to form the Climate Justice Coalition.

Follow the campaign to save Akbelen on Twitter.

Action Round Up

1, 8, 15, 22, 29 JULY | The Netherlands: Rebels take part in a ‘Hot ING Summer Tour’, with actions outside offices of ING bank across the Netherlands each week. Since the 2015 Paris accords, ING have invested more than 51 billion euros in climate breakdown. As global temperatures rise, so do rebel actions!

4 JULY | UK, Japan, USA, Canada: Rebels and FFF activists stand in solidarity with the Wet'suwet'en First Nation to protest against the vast Coastal GasLink pipeline crossing their unceded territory in British Columbia, Canada. Letters were delivered to banks that have invested in the pipeline, demanding they withdraw support.

5 - 6 JULY | Bregenz, Austria: Rebels block the state parliament by chaining themselves to three wooden tripods and a 7-metre-long pink boat! Clearing the blockade proved to be a major challenge for the police, who managed to injure one protester before arresting 20. The next day, rebels returned to the building to form a human chain around it. The actions were protesting the millions of euros spent by the state on fossil fuel mega projects like the “Spider Tunnel” road construction.

8 JULY | New York, USA: Around 40 activists from XR NYC and Rise & Resist silently sit beside exhibits at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. This was the second protest in two weeks to condemn the excessive charges pressed against two members of Declare Emergency for their action at the National Gallery of Art in April.

11 JULY | Kampala, Uganda: Four activists, three of them women, are violently arrested by police during a peaceful march against Standard Chartered Bank and its financing of the EACOP pipeline. They were later released on police bond.

14 JULY | Ibiza, Spain: Activists from XR Ibiza and Futuro Vegetal enter Ibiza Airport, paint a private jet, and then glue themselves to it. The protest, part of the Make Them Pay campaign, closed the runway for several hours.

18 JULY | Trieste, Italy: Rebels are covered with fake oil to highlight how the regional government is funding the expansion of a transalpine oil pipeline to Austria that would connect to four additional methane plants. This commitment to fossil fuels comes despite the regional government promising net-zero emissions by 2045.

22 JULY | Rwanda, Nigeria, Tanzania: Hundreds of scientists, activists, and young people march through cities across Africa on Climate Emergency Day. Protesters held special Climate Clocks to demand their governments ‘Act In Time’ to end the Climate Emergency. Pictured are rallies in Kigali, Rwanda, Abuja, Nigeria, and Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania.

23 JULY | Budapest, Hungary: Rebels protest outside the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, home to the teams competing in the Formula 1 Hungarian Grand Prix. The F1 event costs the Hungarian government hundreds of millions of euros, while the race itself and related VIP services, such as helicopter taxis, burn huge amounts of fossil fuels. Photo: Alföldi Dániel István

24 JULY | Malmö, Sweden: A new climate group welcomes a special guest for their blockade of Malmö’s oil harbour. Throughout the summer, activists from Ta Tillbaka Framtiden (Take Back The Future) have blocked access roads to Sweden’s oil harbours.

Splinter Group of the Month: This Is Rigged

19 - 29 JULY | Grangemouth, Scotland

‘This Is Rigged’ blockade the entrance to Grangemouth oil terminal. “It’s like Mordor,” said one activist.

Climbing fences, occupying pipework, immobilising a car park of tanker trucks, even concreting themselves to roads, these are the lengths the new Scottish eco-group, This Is Rigged (TIR) was willing to go to shut down Grangemouth oil terminal.

The terminal supplies 70% of Scotland’s fuel, and in two weeks of sustained action, TIR activists interspersed regular attacks on its infrastructure with cultural actions appealing to the Scottish identity.

The group opened its campaign with 4 people targeting the Clydebank oil tunnel in Glasgow and 24 heading to Grangemouth itself. There, the second group split their forces, blocking gates, climbing and disabling tanker trucks, and locking on to things.

Despite a strong police response, the atmosphere wasn’t hostile; on-site workers ambled over for a banter and showed interest in the activists' demands.

More blockades of the terminal followed over the next two weeks, each building on the last; activists chained themselves to an old washing machine, locked on to tubes fed through buckets that were then cemented to the road, and glued themselves to the road with cinder blocks coated in fast-drying cement.

Other activists took advantage of these roadblock diversions to scale a new 3-metre fence topped with barbed wire and enter the site. The disruption was significant.

TIR paint their parliament red, scale a giant horse head, and deface a royal portrait.

Meanwhile, there were the cultural actions: two activists risked their lives climbing one of The Kelpies, two 30-metre-high metal horse sculptures, stating “they would not be lured underwater” by the Scottish fossil fuel industry. A portrait of the British King in the National gallery was sprayed with “the people are mightier than a lord”. Four women sprayed the Scottish parliament with red paint.

Founded last January, TIR has two main demands: First, the Scottish government must oppose all new fossil fuel projects in Scotland, and second, it must create a clear and fully-funded transition for Scottish oil and gas workers.

TIR is particularly focussed on community and building solidarity with local groups. Besides a weekly soup kitchen, they hold regular workshops on Scotland's rich history of civil resistance. Integrating art, “pranktivism”, and attacks on infrastructure, they have been very busy so far, and belief is strong that they can win.

Humans of XR:

Cesar, Colombia

My name is Cesar, I live in Pore, in the province of Casanare in the east of Colombia. I have been an activist since my early twenties, when I studied physics at the National University of Colombia. I realised that the future depends only on our actions - we cannot wait for governments to change anything. Now that I am 41 years old, I am just as rebellious and cannot conceive of any other way of life than climate activism!

It is a sense of responsibility that motivates me, because I understand the climate crisis. I live it, I feel it, it is a reality that I cannot avoid. In this crisis, there are many victims who are unaware that they are victims, and there are many others who do not want to see or accept it. All the while, the powerful people in the world are either too immoral or irresponsible to act. In the absence of their action, I do my part.

My daughter, my partner, and all my friends and family give me the strength and support to be able to do my part. Even though it is certainly not without risk. I even had to flee to Venezuela for a time to be safe from prosecution. But I always want to speak the truth, and continue defending nature, such as the La Morena natural reserve in San Luis de Palenque. This area is under threat from Anglo-French oil company Perenco wanting to extract oil and gas. Sinking their fangs like vampires into the earth to suck the life out of it, that is how I see it.

It is a difficult struggle against such foreign interests, in particular because many here in Colombia have been deceived by the discourse of the “good works” of the Global North. Not just the “good” economic system and the “right” religion, but also the science of the Global North, which is an extractivist science. A science used to destroy ecosystems.

This is why the collective that I started a few years ago is called Ciencia Local [Local Science]. We use the science inherited from our ancestors, those who survived the invasion into the lands of Abya Yala. With this wonderful rebel community, we are preserving natural lands and educating the population on the climate crisis.

Currently, I am also working with people from all over the world to organise the Earth Social Conference which will take place in Pakistan in December. This conference will be an alternative to COP, because COP has not led to any action, and the young people of the world understand that they cannot leave our responsibility in the hands of the irresponsible. All readers of this newsletter are invited to join us in this network for global climate governance. We are entering a new era!

If you know (or are) a rebel somewhere in the world with a story to tell, get in touch at

Must Reads / Watches

A Stop EACOP rally in Kampala. The pipeline has already impoverished thousands of Ugandan farmers.

XR UK: What Next For The Climate Movement? (34 mins)
An Extinction Rebellion co-founder delivers an intriguing analysis of where she sees the climate movement heading, and why politicians are so bizarrely incapable of stopping the world from burning.

Human Rights Watch: Uganda: Oil Pipeline Project Impoverishes Thousands
EACOP will devastate the planet once it is operational, but even under construction, the pipeline is devastating thousands of lives in Uganda. That is the conclusion of this report, detailing the shocking way Total Energies is cheating Ugandan farmers out of their land.

iNews: Carbon Capture is a Disaster and Entirely Unworkable
When the British Prime Minister flew to Scotland by private jet to announce that his government would max-out North Sea oil and gas extraction, he also announced a new carbon capture and storage project, which will apparently make it okay. Except it won’t. At all. Here, a professor in earth system science explains why.

Adani Watch: Forgotten People: Conflicts in India Caused by Adani Group’s exploitation of Coal
We’ve already seen examples of coal companies operating illegally in this issue, but few coal companies are as lawless or polluting as Adani. This report details how exploited communities in India have fought back, protesting against Adani’s coal mines, coal power stations, and coal ports to defend their lives and livelihoods.


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Adriatic Climate Camp 2023: You’re Invited!

23 - 27 AUGUST | Krk Island, Croatia

XR Zagreb is happy to invite you to the 2nd Adriatic Climate Camp at Camp Bor on the island of Krk, Croatia, from 23rd to 27th August 2023!

We will protest against the planned expansion of the LNG terminal on Krk, but the camp will also include workshops, skill-shares, plenary sessions, discussions, and much more.

Accommodation and eating expenses will be covered by XR Zagreb, but donations are also welcome.

Find out more about the camp and then fill out the application form.

Thank you

XR Auxerre currently have a bold if slightly confusing offer. Get a rebel delivered to your door anywhere in France by emailing them a photo of yourself in a cardboard box. Good luck? What does the rebel do? Who knows?

Thank you for reading, rebel. If you have any questions or feedback, we want to hear from you. Get in touch at

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About the Rebellion

Ukutshabalala Kwemvukelo Ukupheliswa kwemvukelo yintshukumo esasazekileyo, yamazwe ngamazwe kunye nezopolitiko ezingathathi cala zisebenzisa inyathelo elingenabundlobongela ngokuthe ngqo nokungathobeli eluntwini ukweyisela oorhulumente ukuba benze ngokuchanekileyo kwiMo yezulu neNgxakeko yeNdalo. Yiba yinxalenye …or consider making a donation.