The people of Ecuador rally to stop oil extraction in Yasuní National Park. Photo: Fernando Muñoz-Miño
This issue: Ecuador Stops Oil | XR Sudan | Adriatic Climate Camp |
This issue, we have something rare and exciting for you: good news.
It starts with our report on Ecuador, where the public have voted to ban oil drilling in the Amazon in a national referendum that might be the first of many in the region. XR Ecuador contributed to this amazing political victory. Find out how by heading to Action Highlights.
The good news continues in Action Round Up, where we bring you a beautiful update on the struggle to close an illegal coal mine in Wales, as well as a ground-breaking court victory for young climate activists in Montana, USA.
Rebels at the Adriatic Climate Camp access a nearby gas terminal.
But this is climate activism, and the pure positivity can only last so long. In Action Highlights, we report on a second Adriatic Climate Camp in Croatia, where a beautiful five-day camp for rebels everywhere was marred by police violence.
Also in this issue, the founder of XR Sudan tells the courageous, tragic, moving story of their group in Humans of XR. It is a tale of democracy crushed, of state torture and murder, of the incalculable devastation of war, and the unfathomable bravery of rebels who believe in their cause.
Members of XR Sudan in 2019, the year of its founding.
This newsletter rarely gets to dabble in good news, but when it comes to tales of inspiring, fearless activism, we are always spoilt for choice. Whether it be in war-torn Khartoum, on a Croatian island, or along the edge of the Amazon, ordinary people are standing up and demanding better for this planet.
It’s their heroism that makes the bleakness of this global crisis bearable, and allows this newsletter to brim with hope as well as heartache, issue after issue.
This newsletter is available in multiple languages. Use the globe icon (top right) to change language.
This newsletter is brought to you by XR Global Support, a worldwide network of rebels who help our movement grow. We need money for this crucial work.
- Action Highlights: Ecuador Stop Oil, Adriatic Climate Camp
- Action Round Up: Germany, New Zealand, Netherlands, South Korea, USA, UK, Uganda, DRC, Kenya, Australia
- Humans of XR: Hamdan, XR Sudan
- Book of the Month: Global Warming: The Complete Briefing
- Announcements: Unconquerable Voices Zine, Climate Café, Regen 101
Ecuador Stops Oil
20 AUGUST | Ecuador
This is a story about a victory ten years in the making. The decision to put fossil fuel extraction in a biodiversity hotspot to a democratic, nation-wide vote was historic. But then, on the day of asking, the people of Ecuador chose to kick the oil industry out of Yasuní National Park. 58% voted to keep a billion barrels of oil firmly in the ground.
Yasuní, located in Ecuador’s east on the border with Peru, is designated a UNESCO world biosphere reserve and is home to many hundreds of bird, fish, mammal and reptile species. Petroecuador, Ecuador's state-owned oil company, is now legally required to halt fossil fuel operations in the region and dismantle its infrastructure.
XR Ecuador launched a public information campaign to support the protection of Yasuní and ensure engagement in the referendum. A rebel involved explains: 'many people did not know that there was going to be a referendum or did not know how to vote because the question was formulated in a complicated way. And we also had to fight a huge disinformation campaign that was launched by fossil fuel companies'.
Members of XR Ecuador in Quito vote in the referendum.
XR LATAM (Latin America) also joined the campaign, encouraging local groups from across the continent to show their support for the referendum in video messages and solidarity actions. Activists in neighbouring countries are already planning how to follow Ecuador’s example.
But it was YASunidos, a civil society organisation founded ten years ago and dedicated to the protection of the Yasuní, that made the historic referendum possible. They quickly collected the 750,000 signatures to enable it, then won a long legal battle when the former government tried to void half of the names.
'The result is an opportunity to think about a different kind of economy, and it gives a lot of hope', says our rebel source. 'After ten long years of campaigning, it was a moment that many of us in Ecuador have been waiting for. However, we don’t think that this is over. A lot of Ecuador is divided up between mining companies. We can’t rest, despite this victory'.
XR Argentina hold a Yasuní solidarity rally outside the Ecuadorian embassy.
The government initially voiced support for the referendum, but Ecuador's president has already indicated he plans to ignore the result of the vote.
'It is up to the constitutional court to make sure that the will of the people is carried out', says our rebel source. 'What’s important now is to make noise at an international and local level to defend our democracy'.
Rebels and grassroots communities are organising to protect the result, and protect the National Park from other types of exploitation like mining. Residents of Quito, Ecuador’s capital, also voted overwhelmingly to ban gold and copper mining in the Chocó Andino reserve, a biodiversity hotspot 40km from the city.
Peaceful Climate Camp Met With Police Violence
23 - 27 AUGUST | Krk, Croatia
Protesters inside the terminal are shoved back and have their goods seized by private security - actions illegal under Croatian law.
After a successful debut in 2022, the Adriatic Climate Camp returned this summer with twice the turnout. Around 160 rebels gathered on the Croatian island of Krk for XR Zagreb’s five-day festival centred around community, learning, and the peaceful disruption of a nearby Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) terminal.
But despite the right to peaceful gathering being set in Croatian law, and despite XR Zagreb liaising with the police over safety, the final protest at the state-owned LNG terminal, which is a large international importer for the EU, was met with violence.
26 activists braved the sea and police water cannons to enter the terminal and unfurl banners. After being shoved back by private security, a delegation of waiting riot police then pinned down the protesters, keeping them in painful pressure holds before throwing them into vans and driving them to custody cells. There, they were held for up to ten hours with no food, water, medical help, or phone calls.
Snapshots of Adriatic camp life: socialising, vegan food, trainings, protest.
XR Zagreb is exploring options for legal action against the police and security, but the violence in no way deflated the camp, nor reduced the hunger for another one. Organisers promise to adapt the camp next year to avoid waiting riot police.
Rebels came from across Europe to take part in the camp’s daily workshops, trainings, entertainment, and vegan food, with a few even travelling from as far as New Zealand and the USA. A third of the attendees were not even ecoactivists - this was also a space for human rights, gay rights, animal rights and anarchist groups.
As well as a space for sharing activism ideas and know-how, the camp held trainings in climbing and kayaking, and hosted drama, speed-dating, and stand-up comedy nights. And after the last detained rebel was released, the camp concluded with a big celebration on the beach.
2 AUGUST | Germany: Rebel actions were held in Nürnberg and cities across Germany on Earth Overshoot Day. August 2nd was the day when humanity used up all the resources the planet could sustainably provide for the whole year. For comparison, in 1971, Earth Overshoot Day fell on December 25th. Capitalism requires infinite economic growth, and that means our planetary boundaries are being increasingly disregarded.
2 AUG | Ōtautahi Christchurch, New Zealand: Restore Passenger Rail returns to the streets for a very slow march around Canterbury University campus. The group wants their government to restore passenger rail travel throughout the country, with a railway line from the C.19th already set up for most of the routes.
5 AUG | Amsterdam, The Netherlands: LGBTQIA+ rebels disrupt Canal Pride Amsterdam with a banner calling for queer rebels to take action against fossil fuel subsidies. Banners were also dropped that celebrated trans people and refugees, and dismissed the ‘rainbow’ capitalism of the event’s corporate sponsors.
13 AUG | Seoul, South Korea: Rebels hold a sharing event to try and re-establish a safe community. XR Seoul was shaken by an incident of sexual harassment last year, and the group suspended all actions to focus on resolving the issue. Progress has been made, but the healing process continues.
14 AUG | Montana, USA: Victory! Young climate activists win a ground-breaking court case. A Montana judge ruled that state agencies were violating their constitutional right to a clean and healthy environment by allowing fossil fuel development. The state will appeal. If the verdict stands, it will set an amazing precedent for future climate litigation. Photo: Robin Loznak
15 AUG | Wales, UK: Victory! The UK's biggest opencast coal mine will finally close in November! The announcement comes after a sustained campaign by rebels and locals against the illegal coal mine, including a two-day blockade in July. XR Cymru demanded the mine workers be retrained for the site restoration work ahead.
21 AUG | Jinja, Uganda: XR Great Lakes Region holds a workshop with local school children about the climate crisis. The visit was part of an educational tour that began earlier in the month. It included rehabilitating a local water source and visiting Itanda Falls, which is threatened by a hydroelectric dam funded by China EXIM Bank (also a funder of the EACOP pipeline).
28 AUG | Nevada, USA: Activists from XRNYC, Scientist Rebellion and Rave Revolution block the road into ‘Burning Man’ festival, demanding that its organisers ban private jets and single-use plastics. The festival has a ridiculous carbon footprint and is basically a temporary city in the desert. But drivers reacted angrily, and police reacted violently, driving directly into the blockade and wrestling the protesters to the ground with guns raised. Four were arrested and face trial in October. You can hear from two of them by listening to this XR LA podcast. Ironically enough, a few days later the police were forced to close the same road after extreme storms turned the desert into mud, trapping 70,000 festival-goers with limited food and water.
1 SEPTEMBER | DRC, UK: Rebels in the UK and DRC hold simultaneous protests against Anglo-French oil company Perenco. Activists rallied outside its London HQ (top) and in Moanda (bottom left), an impoverished area in the DRC which Perenco is exploiting for oil. XR Moanda was recently formed thanks to the ‘Petrole Non Merci’ campaign, with rebels from XR Goma University touring the country to raise resistance against the 27 ‘oil blocks’ recently sold by the Congolese government to Perenco. Two weeks earlier they helped form another new chapter, XR Lobolo (bottom right), in Yahuma territory, a peatland region containing one of Perenco’s new oil blocks.
4 - 6 SEP | Nairobi, Kenya: Rebels from across Africa converge on the Kenyan capital to protest outside the African Climate Summit, a new three-day conference attended by (some of) Africa’s leaders to discuss… green growth and climate finance! Hundreds of activists marched for total system change rather than more financial greenwashing, and rallied for the cancellation of Global South debts. They were not heard. The summit’s final declaration was met with heavy disappointment.
Humans of XR:
Hamdan, XR Sudan
I first learned about climate change a long time ago. I don’t remember exactly when. But at university, my knowledge and activity around environmental issues increased, and I understood how countries like mine in the Global South are less responsible yet more affected by the climate crisis. This left me with the urgent question, why don’t we raise our voices?
I was introduced to XR while watching the news. I searched the internet and social media for more information. Seeing XR groups in the Global North using peaceful protest to garner global attention inspired me. I felt like rushing out and taking action against the ecocidal crimes committed by my government and global corporations!
I founded XR Sudan at the beginning of 2019. The group had 12 active members, and there were two more local groups, the Ahfad Girls’ Group and the Darfur Region Sons’ Group. Over the next three years we launched many actions.
We ran awareness campaigns about the climate crisis and eco-crimes in Sudan in universities and neighbourhoods across Khartoum. We rallied in front of embassies during the G7 summit and against the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. We discussed the illegal logging of Sudan’s forests and carried out local clean-ups. We also joined pro-democracy protests on the streets of the capital.
People supported us and asked us to keep pressure on the government. They had seen the severe weather in Sudan, and the devastating floods, crop failure, and other disasters that resulted, in addition to many terrible environmental crimes, like the burying of Chinese and Iranian nuclear waste in the country.
XR Sudan joins pro-democracy marches in Khartoum, July 2020.
But on October 25, 2021, a military coup took place in Sudan. We continued to organise our peaceful activism as usual, but we noticed the security forces watching our movements. We were attacked by a militia called the Rapid Support Forces. They shot at us, and as we ran to hide from the bullets, a member of our group called Muhammad was hit twice in the chest and fell as a martyr.
Dr. Muhammad Abdul Rahim was just 27 years old and passionate about environmental issues and the climate crisis. After joining XR Sudan, he helped to launch a Covid-19 awareness campaign in the most crowded areas of the capital, and coordinated planet preservation festivals in primary schools.
When we went to our friend Dr. Muhammad’s funeral, soldiers arrested me and two others. We were placed in Soba prison, where we were psychologically and physically tortured. They falsely accused us of terrorism and being a “foreign agent,” charges they often use against democracy activists to cover up the accusers’ crimes.
I was absolutely certain that they would kill me, as they killed Muhammad and so many other activists. But a month later, the former Prime Minister brokered a deal with the military, and one condition was the release of all political activists. I was released along with the other two members.
However, the security forces soon came back to arrest me. Again, I managed to escape, but they hunted me for six months. Whenever I felt insecure, I moved to another place. It was a difficult and harsh period, and I decided to seek safety outside of Sudan.
XR Sudan visits the director of Khartoum Water on World Water Day, March 2021 (top left), provides health education, masks, and sterilisers during the Covid outbreak, January 2021 (bottom left), and protests outside the embassies of the G7 during their summit, June 2021 (right).
The war in Sudan now is not a civil war, despite what some say in the media. The truth is that neocolonialism is the root cause. Sudan has vast resources of gold and uranium and oil that have made it a target for a long time, and countries are now arming the militias in order to prolong the war and plunder Sudan amid the chaos.
This war has left the capital Khartoum and the Darfur region completely destroyed. Thousands of my people have been killed and millions displaced. In Darfur, militias are carrying out ethnic cleansing, replacing the indigenous population with people from neighbouring countries who belong to their tribes.
Sudan is now going through a dangerous historical juncture. Either there will be a unified sovereign state, or Sudan will become divided and destroyed. I ask those reading this to pray for my country, to listen to this beautiful podcast that explains the conflict so well, and to consider donating to the Sudan emergency funds of UNHCR, Islamic Relief, or Médecins Sans Frontières.
The spirit among the XR Sudan team taught me the meaning of participatory work. We worked hard to ensure the safety of our planet and future generations, and stand against injustice and human rights violations. I learned determination, patience and persistence, and that there is hope for a better, healthy and clean future. Muhammad died, but he did not die among us.
If you know (or are) a rebel somewhere in the world with a story to tell, get in touch at email@example.com
Book of the Month
'Global Warming: The Complete Briefing', by John Houghton
The title pretty well explains this book—it is a complete briefing on climate change. The current, most up-to-date edition is the fifth, but older editions are still useful as the basic science has not changed much over the decades. Of course, where we are in the process of this disaster has shifted.
The author intends this work as a kind of textbook suitable for everyone from high school to graduate school. It is introductory, but written with scholarly thoroughness and depth. The text is quite dry, for the most part, as it makes no pretence about what it is, a book about an important branch of science.
And yet no particular scientific expertise is necessary to read it. There are facts and figures but no equations. Important concepts are explained. Technical terms are minimised.
Climate change is the issue of our time, and while simplified talking points are enough to get an activist started, sooner or later it becomes important to really understand the science. That’s when it’s time to reach for the complete briefing.
Unconquerable Voices: XR Disabled Zine Released
The 1st issue of the XR Disabled rebels' network zine, now titled ‘Unconquerable Voices’, is available for download.
Disabled people are at greater risk than able-bodied people in our climate crisis. This is due to stigma along with barriers imposed by our society and the environment. Yet disabled people have largely been left out of actions and discussions about climate change. ‘Unconquerable Voices’ seeks to rectify this.
‘Unconquerable Voices’ is a collection of artwork, poetry, personal anecdotes and much more by disabled people, expressing their experiences of disability in the context of climate change. Nothing about us without us.
GS Regen: Climate Café
SEP 27 | 08:00 - 09:30 UTC | Online
GS Regen are holding free Climate Cafés for rebels to attend each month. A Climate Café is an informal, open, respectful, confidential space to safely share thoughts, feelings and emotional responses to the climate & ecological emergency.
Join trained facilitators Christie, Cerrie and Sam for a quiet, reflective and supportive experience not designed to lead participants to any conclusion or particular action.
Register here for the Climate Café on Wednesday 27th September from 08:00 - 9:30 am UTC.
GS Regen: Regen 101 Workshop
OCT 3 | 23:00 UTC | Online
GS Regen are holding free Regen 101 workshops for rebels to attend each month.
Regen 101 is a beautiful introduction to Regenerative Cultures for those new to XR, and an essential experience for those already involved in the movement. It is experiential, practical, and educational, and weaves through topics so that the group leaves with an understanding of embodied Regenerative Activism.
Join our facilitators, Christie & Cherry in this nourishing experience that explains Regenerative Cultures, and covers Earth Emotions, Self-care, Burnout, and more.
Register here for the Regen 101 Workshop on Tuesday 3rd October at 23:00 UTC.
For more global events and trainings, visit XR Global Support Events.
14 AUG | Naarm / Melbourne, Australia: XR Westside visits an ExxonMobil fuel depot to blockade the driveway and put on a show. ExxonMobil spent more than $37 million (US) funding climate science denial between 1998 and 2019 and is the world's 4th largest greenhouse gas emitter.
Thank you for reading, rebel. If you have any questions or feedback, we want to hear from you. Get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.