Paris: To get around the state ban on climate marches, Coalition Climat 21 have proposed a human chain be formed between 12 noon and 1pm along the sidewalks of the Boulevarde Voltaire from between Place de la Republique and Place de la Nation. This was the original route of the climate march that has been planned for several months for Sunday November 29 in Paris, and was expected to attract tens of thousands and possibly hundreds of thousands of people.
Activists announced this action in a media release (fr) on Tuesday 24 November, to get around the ban on marching declared by the French state. The state of emergency declared and then extended after the Paris attacks resulted in the French state prohibiting mass marches in Paris and cities across France.
Activists claim freedom of assembly is too important at this critical time of the UN climate conference when we have a climate emergency and citizens voices need to be clearly heard, despite the increased security and risk of terrorism. The coalition of organisations organising the November 29 and December 12 mass protests in Paris vowed to maintain their mobilisations although in altered form.
“The world that we defend is that of peace, justice, the fight against inequality and against climate change.” declared the media statement.
The activists highlighted that if the prohibition was due to security, why ironically were sporting events and christmas markets still being held. Indeed in recent days a high level terrorism security alert in Brussels resulted in the closure of the Brussels metro, schools and universities with few people on the streets.
“The reality is that we are in a climate emergency.” said the statement. “More than ever, civil society, for unity and solidarity, has the duty to hear the citizens’ demands during the COP21. That is why we will be mobilized this Sunday, November 29th in Paris and other cities in France. At the same time, hundreds of thousands of people will march from Durban to Sao Paulo via New Delhi and London.”
“For climate justice, and for peace, and also to help provide for the victims of the attacks, we will form in Paris a human chain on sidewalks between Place de la Republique and Nation on the Boulevard Voltaire through the Bataclan and Rue de Charonne.”
“To all those who want to prevent us from expressing ourselves, we say with unity and solidarity we want to live together on a just and livable Earth.”
In a symbolic action the Place de la Republic will be covered with shoes that symbolize the footsteps of those who were to participate in the march for the climate in Paris, but have been prevented by the state edict.
The statement outlines other alternatives for Parisiens to participate in the global marches on November 28 and 29th. These include using the march4me.org website, due to be available on Wednesday 25 November, to allow all those who can’t march to be represented by others in the Americas, Africa, Asia, Australia and Europe. Organisers are also working on a common symbol that people can use to post in cafes and bars, in windows or to wear.
The human chain mobilisation comes the day before the UN climate conference starts at the Le Bourget conference centre on the northern outskirts of Paris. 147 heads of state are expected in a one day leaders summit on November 30 to give the climate conference political momentum.
Updated 26 November 2015:
International call to lift French protest ban
There has been an international call for President Hollande to lift the ban on climate protests at COP21. An international coalition of NGOs, civil society groups and political figures such as Naomi Klein and Susan George have called on the French president to lift the ban on protests during the COP 21 climate talks in Paris, which is due to start on the 30 November. Read the letter and more at Global Justice Now which lists over 40 groups and prominent individuals. There is also an online public petition that can be signed.
The letter has also been made into an online petition that members of the public are being invited to sign.
Participation rules for human chain event
Attac and Alternatiba are organising the Climate of peace chain on Sunday November 29 on Boulevarde Voltaire. Attac have released 5 principles for participation in the human chains event. They ask that participants understand the security issues related to the state of emergency, and commit to:
- only use sidewalks without disrupting pedestrian traffic;
- respect the commemoration places available on the Boulevard Voltaire;
- individually carry their messages to a climate of peace;
- ensure that people are present at each intersection to secure and not disturb the movement of vehicles;
- not go beyond the Oberkampf metro station towards the Republic Square.
The hashtag of #Climat2paix will be used to provide communication before and during the human chains event.
Organisers will be present throughout the Boulevard Voltaire to facilitate the establishment of chains and ensure compliance with the principles.