Greta Thunberg voices support for climate group shut down by France

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg on Wednesday backed a climate group shut down by the French government over allegations it incited violence.


Earlier on Wednesday, the government issued a decree outlawing Earth Rising (SLT), which it said had encouraged violence during a series of demonstrations, including one that clashed violently with police over an irrigation project.

The SLT condemned the government shutdown and called for protests in dozens of French cities starting Wednesday.

The group also quickly won the support of Thunberg, who is attending a green finance summit in Paris.

“This is about the right to protest, this is about standing up for life,” Thunberg said at a news conference with members and supporters of the group.

“I hope more people will stand up against what’s happening right now and stand up for the right to protest,” said the 20-year-old, who has often called on world leaders to act quickly on climate change.

After Wednesday’s weekly cabinet meeting, Interior Minister Gerald Dalmanin said that “in defense of environmental protection … (SLT) encourages vandalism and property damage, including violence”.

The SLT is part of a new wave of more aggressive climate activist groups, including Extinction Rebellion, which say direct action is needed to combat insufficient efforts to combat climate change and global warming.

The SLT’s dissolution process was launched in March after some 5,000 protesters clashed with more than 3,000 police during a protest against a giant irrigation reservoir near Saint-Sorin in western France.

Two protesters fell unconscious and about 30 police officers were injured.

But Dammanin, who has been criticized by left-wing opponents and human rights groups for labeling the actions of some protesters as “eco-terrorism”, pointed to the SLT’s dissolution being based on a new law targeting extremist ideology.

“It should not be used in cases of civil disobedience because freedom of expression and assembly takes precedence,” Greenpeace France said in a statement.

Greenpeace added that it would support the SLT if it challenged the dissolution decree to the State Council, which rules on the legality of French law.


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