One month ago, on May 2nd, the Parliament was invited to receive a briefing directly from IPCC and IPBES authors - the result of Guillermo Fernandez’ 39-day hunger strike. In this newsletter, you can read more about why it was historic, yet why the political class once again showed they truly belong to the wrong side of history. Guillermo also contributed some personal words to this newsletter.
To convert historic discussions into historic acts, civil resistance is necessary. Climate Strike activists reached a milestone in their movement’s evolution in May, by blockading a fuel depot. More actions are to be expected - we can’t wait to see how this develops. In the meantime, Renovate Switzerland is having an intense mobilisation phase before they go back to the roads with a plan to win: two of their motorway blockers are guests in this newsletter!
“I hope my own daughters will one day also have that courage and stand up for what is right”. These words come from a judge in Zürich. Find out more here about how the trials are going, and how you can support the rebels. Pressure inside and outside the courts will be necessary until judges start realising that, like everyone else, it is their duty to step up and stop cooperating with evil, whatever the consequences.
With love and rage,
Anaïs, Frank, Marie and Sanja, your newsletter team
The May 2nd session: a mixed bag
Guillermo and some Doctors for Extinction Rebellion speaking on May 2nd
On May 2nd, something historic happened in Switzerland: politicians listened to scientists! Swiss members of Parliament were invited to attend a training session on the climate and biodiversity crises, organized by the Swiss Academy of Natural Sciences. This was an essential first step towards real, strong action for a sustainable future in Switzerland. Late? Yes, but still good news.
None of this would have happened without civil resistance, without normal people stepping up to rebel against business as usual. The parliamentary session is a victory that Guillermo Fernandez created with his supporters, with his 39-day-long hunger strike last autumn. People have power!
However, the session was optional - only 90 out of the 246 politicians that were invited attended, the left side of the room being a lot fuller than the right side. Some politicians excused themselves by saying they already know all the science there is to know. So their criminal inaction and indifference to the fates of future generations is intentional, then?
To support the politicians that did attend, almost 300 rebels and climate activists gathered at the Federal square to welcome them. Grandparents for the climate showed their appreciation with flowers, smiles and applauds. Doctors for Extinction Rebellion demonstrated what happens when the globe gets a fever that runs too high. Artibees, BreakFree Suisse, Scientist Rebellion, Renovate Switzerland… many added their voices to the choir: there is work to do!
➡️ To learn what eight world-class experts taught them about climate, biodiversity and the ways humankind can survive, check here.
➡️ To read a personal account about the session from a Swiss rebel, Marcus, check our website [in German].
Guest post: Guillermo Fernandez
Photo credit: Blaise Kormann
The slot below was offered to Guillermo to write something personal to rebels! Here’s his contribution.
“A new normal
Do you hear that sound in the background ? Like a pot starting to simmer.
Renovate Switzerland is blocking motorways.
Climate Strike enthusiastically supports the blockade of a depot in Rümland.
A hunger strike wins the climate briefing for the British parliament.
In England, Italy, Germany and France, people are finding their courage, daring and raising their heads everywhere.
This is the new normal. We are shifting into high gear. No more nice walks in the city center. We stand there, in front of you, impossible to ignore.
Does it work? Yes, it does!
When on May 2nd, 2022, a majority of parliamentarians thought they could ignore climate science with no consequences, they were mistaken.
The press in French-speaking Switzerland called on them to justify themselves. From Freudian slips to ridiculous blunders, they appeared for what they are: either incompetent, irresponsible or corrupt, or all of the above.
They have been mocked, in France in Le Monde and on France Inter and surely elsewhere.
The needle has moved. For a good part of the press, not caring about the climate is no longer normal.
It is the new normal: denying the urgency of the climate crisis and the death of biodiversity has a political price to pay now. And we will make you pay it, with interest!
You who read me, don’t be afraid.
You are young, fight for your future.
You are not so young, be the responsible adult that you are, fight for your legacy.
Whatever happens, physics will prove you right. In 10 years, in 100 years, people will still talk about you as the hero you are.
The lines are moving, let’s keep agitating.
Soon it will boil, and the lid will finally blow off!”
Guest post: Voices from Renovate Switzerland
Renovate Switzerland’s warm-up phase in April resulted in 4 motorways blocked, hours of traffic jams, over 150 news articles, and politicians being invited on TV sets to justify why they’re not getting on with the job of insulating our country’s leaky homes in a climate emergency… And all of that with 16 people!
The second action phase will be at the end of the summer and involve over a 100 people. They are right now busy mobilising, disrupting university lectures and planning talks all around the country.
For this newsletter, we’ve invited two of the people who sat on motorways to write something personal.
Léa in handcuffs by the side of the road after the campaign’s first roadblock
“I’m a 23-year-old young adult, and although I co-founded the campaign, I had never been arrested before participating in the Renovate Switzerland blockades.
But the first affinity group to go out and block the highway was my own - and to top it off, the group chose me to be the team leader! A few months back I couldn’t have imagined myself leading an action group… let alone a group where I was the youngest, with gentlemen who could have been my grandpas!
In the weeks leading up to the action, I was quite apprehensive and scared. However, as the non-violence trainings, briefings and meetings with the other participants progressed, I felt more and more prepared.
The night before, while giving the last instructions to the group, I felt a lot of respect and trust towards myself and between all the people in the team.
But the best moment was when we finally sat down on the highway: I felt perfectly ready. We had considered every possible scenario. Our discipline evaporated the last of my fears, and all that was left was our courage, determination and love.
The campaign team pays a lot of attention to creating a strong, disciplined and committed community - and it works!
I’m tired of words and retoric. With Renovate Switzerland, we want to give ourselves the means to achieve our ambitions. We have numerical targets and a plan to reach them - we’re serious.
We are building a network of people in civil resistance who support each other. A community that welcomes every person who is determined to do what is necessary, in non-violence, to save what is left to be saved.
I’ll end with a random anecdote I didn’t know where to fit: on the morning of the 4th action, on the way to the blockade, a gentleman called out to us: “Are you going on a school run?” This shows you the great mood we had in this group of men and women, from 19 to 78 years old, complete with backpacks!”
Elisabeth is creating quite a mess
“I just turned 78 and I think I am the grandmother of the group! A group of young (and not so young) people who are magnificent in their warm welcome and energy. Since I spent a few months in 1968 at the ML King Center which had just been created in Lausanne, non-violent resistance has been part of my life. It is therefore with pleasure that I joined these courageous and determined young people. I had already participated in demonstrations but not in this atmosphere of warm simplicity. I am very grateful to this courageous and determined community!”
News from the courtrooms
Already seven activists had to stand trial in Zurich for the actions on the Quaibrücke and the rebellion against extinction in Zurich this year. Six were found guilty, as expected, but in the last trial on 24th of May we finally achieved a victory: the activist who had acted as a peacekeeper in October 2021 was found not guilty! The prosecutor could not prove that she had been anywhere but on the sidewalk.
Another very positive news from the trials is that at least one judge found it very difficult to condemn the activist . An activist who was in the courtroom describes the proceedings as follows:
“The judge repeated several times that he admired the courage of the activist and that he hoped his own daughters would one day also have that courage and stand up for what is right. He said that civil disobedience was praiseworthy, even socially desirable, and that yes, there was an absolute climate emergency. However, the judge also said that he had very little room for maneuver because Switzerland had not recognised the state of emergency, which he personally regretted. He sighed when he said he thought this would probably only happen when we could hardly breathe anymore.”
We are very much looking forward to the upcoming trials, with moving pleas from our brave rebels and perhaps a judge who finally has the courage to acquit.
Twelve trials are scheduled until the end of June. June 24th will be a particularly intense day, with 6 trials scheduled.
You can find the constantly updated trial calendar here and watch out for news on the usual channels. Important: if you want to attend the trials and support the activists with your presence, announce yourself to the legal team (firstname.lastname@example.org) who’ll ensure the courtrooms are large enough.
Solidarity gathering in Zurich on June 8th
On June 8th, Mikhail will face the courts. He was arrested on October 4th, 2021 for alerting the public to the climate emergency by knitting on the road. Mikhail plans to make his trial a celebration, and will begin a World Ocean Day march immediately after the trial. The Blue Oyads, accompanied by whale songs, and anyone who comes to support them, will walk the streets from the District Court (Bezirksgericht) to the Zurich train station (Hauptbahnhof). Location: Wengistrasse 28, 8004 Zürich; Date: Wednesday, June 8, 2022, 10:30 (after Mikhail’s trial at 8:30)
Calls to action
To create change, it’s not enough to talk, we must also act. The organizing team from XR Switzerland is here to support, but it’s on you to take the initiative and organize campaigns and actions. If not you, who? If not now, when? Here are also two opportunities for you to join international campaigns:
- Join the international rebellion in Brussels on June 19th. Rebels from all over the world will congregate outside the European Parliament to demand a liveable future. More information, and instructions on how to join the Swiss delegation can be found here.
- Help XR MAPA (Most Affected People and Areas), our friends in the Global South, in organising decentralised actions around the G7 meeting (26th-28th June). See the full call to action here. You can email email@example.com if you want to connect with other rebels to organise actions in Switzerland.
Civil resistance abroad
The rebellion never rests, and has also been causing good trouble outside of Switzerland. Here’s just a few of the happenings in the last few weeks:
- In the UK, Money Rebellion disrupted the annual general meeting of the fossil-fuel industry supporting bank HSBC with a well-timed sing-along.
- Also in the UK, Just Stop Oil activists started targeting the oil industry, by, among other actions, barricading themselves in an oil terminal. They demand an immediate stop to all new oil and gas projects by the UK government.
- In Germany the Letzte Generation are also targeting oil, by blockading several oil pipelines for multiple days.
- In Paris, XR rebels occupied major boulevards on Earth Day to draw attention to the climate crisis, while concurrent events were held in New York and London.
- For more global news, you can check the latest international newsletter.