‘Don’t kill Africa’ pro­test­ers at cli­mate sum­mit

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - PEOPLE -

ple­nary halls where the last­minute ne­go­ti­a­tions are hap­pen­ing.

The protest was or­gan­ised by en­vi­ron­men­tal groups Green­peace, 350. org and Friends of the Earth In­ter­na­tional, which are among hundreds rep­re­sent­ing civil so­ci­ety at the sum­mit.

They claimed in a state­ment that “hundreds” had joined in, but it was dif­fi­cult to tell how many were ac­tu­ally tak­ing part be­cause of the crush of me­dia and other del­e­gates who crowded around to watch.

Kumi Naidoo of Green­peace was re­moved from the con­fer- ence cen­tre and has been banned from the build­ing.

He, along with nine other Green­peace ac­tivists, has had his UN ac­cred­i­ta­tion badge re­moved, mean­ing he can­not re- en­ter the site dur­ing the re­main­der of the UN cli­mate con­fer­ence.

UN po­lice and se­cu­rity staff from a lo­cal com­pany linked hands and stood shoul­der-toshoul­der to keep the pro­test­ers away from the main en­trance and the doors lead­ing to the ple­nary room.

The pro­test­ers car­ried posters with slo­gans like “Don’t Kill Africa” and “Stand Strong, Africa”, chant­ing loudly “Cli­mate jus­tice now!” and “Leave the coal in the hole, leave the oil in the soil”.

A wo­man was cheered when she shouted: “I’m from the US. I’m em­bar­rassed. I apol­o­gise for my lead­ers. Let the peo­ple lead – let the lead­ers fol­low!”

Lead­ers of the en­vi­ron­men­tal groups, in­clud­ing Kumi Naidoo, who is Green­peace’s ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor, and Bobby Peek from Dur­ban, who heads the lo­cal branch of Friends of the Earth, ne­go­ti­ated with se­nior UN se­cu­rity staff while the protest con­tin­ued.

Will Bates of 350.org then re­turned to ad­dress the pro­test­ers. He said they had had a “very con­struc­tive” con­ver­sa­tion with the UN of­fi­cials.

The pro­test­ers had to de­cide whether to con­tinue their demon­stra­tion out­doors, or stay where they were and lose their ac­cred­i­ta­tion.

He said there was a con­cern that “the noise of our demon­stra­tion might dis­rupt the ac­tual ne­go­ti­a­tions, which we’re here to sup­port”.

About 20 pro­test­ers sat down, while many of the oth­ers slowly started mov­ing away as ne­go­ti­a­tions con­tin­ued.


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