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COP25 protest: ‘We were pushed and bullied but will never be defeated’

In what looks like an unprecedented crackdown on dissent, UNFCCC officials, organisers of the ongoing climate change conference (COP25) in Madrid, Spain, de-badges civil society engaged in a protest on Wednesday, December 11, 2019, and removing access to all Observers. In a swift reaction, a team of some 17 civil society organisations has frowned at the development. They claim in a joint statement made available to EnviroNews that even though they were pushed, bullied, and touched without their consent, they will never concede defeat

COP25 protest
Nigerian activist, Nnimmo Bassey (right), actively participated in the protest

Millions of people took to the streets this year to demand climate action. Led by our youth, women, Indigenous Peoples, workers and climate justice movements, all civil society made our voices heard like never before and awakened the world to the climate emergency.

Now our voices are being silenced. Hundreds of us demonstrated inside the halls of COP25 today in Madrid – not to block progress, but to drive it forward. Our motto was, “Step up, pay up.” It was a message to the rich industrialised countries who refuse to meet their commitments under the Paris Agreement and human rights law to provide finance to support communities suffering from increasingly severe disasters.

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It was a message to the corporate polluters, who roam these halls attempting to profit from the world’s suffering with their false solutions to climate change rather than making a transition away from a fossil fuel economy and paying for the damage they’ve done.

Instead of kicking out these polluters, the UNFCCC 25th Conferences of the Parties (COP25) kicked out the people. Instead of listening to our voices, they attempted to silence us. We were pushed, bullied, and touched without our consent. We were driven out of the negotiating halls, told that we can take our action outside as they raised an enormous metal door and herded us out. We weren’t advised to the intentions of the UN security to take our badges. We stood out in the cold, many without our jackets and coats as we later watched the enormous metal door lock us out in the cold. An Indigenous woman was not allowed to go back inside to feed her baby.

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This has never happened before in 25 years of negotiations. Yet, there could be no better symbol of this crisis we face. People around the world are crying out for justice, and fighting oppression, while those in power attempt to shut us out. They pay us lip service, thanking us for our action, but when the time comes to act, they slam the door in our face while providing a platform to polluters.

The UN and countries want to recognise the traditional knowledge of Indigenous Peoples but chose not to recognise the rights of Indigenous Peoples. It is a pattern that takes place around the world, from Chile to the halls of COP25, to every place where local communities and Indigenous Peoples are fighting for their rights and their future.

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We will not back down. We demand full access for civil society, the people of the world, to these negotiations and all international processes. We demand that our voices be heard. The people united will never be defeated!

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