Newsletter 28 – Murder in the Amazon
August 23, 2019 by Extinction Rebellion
Rebels all over the world watch heartbroken as fires devastate the Amazon. Known to many as ‘the lungs of the Earth’, the rainforest is a vital organ of our living planet whose health hangs in the balance.
The record-breaking fires are casting a shadow on over half the area of Brazil and are visible from space. On Monday, Sao Paolo was plunged into an unnatural ash-filled darkness in the middle of the day, and the ash cloud has now reached Peru.
But the most traumatic effects are undoubtedly felt by those who call this forest home, and for whom this is only the latest offensive in a long war promoted by agribusiness and the Brazilian government, waged against indigenous peoples and the environment alike.
Solidarity protests are popping up all over the world, with rebels out on the streets in over 30 cities today – look out for your local action or organise your own.
These fires, while terrifying, are not an isolated incident, and the responsibility goes further than any single person, government or nation. One French rebel considers the deep, global causes that underpin the tragic Amazon situation.
Indeed, as we look around the world, the whole house is on fire. Fires continue to tear through Siberia, Greenland, California, Canary Islands and Tenerife, Arctic sea-ice has halved in two decades, hundreds are dying in the floods in India – amidst all this, Western governments are doing next to nothing to reverse or even slow this chaos.
It’s a responsibility shared by all, no matter where in the world, to act now and confront the ecocide that threatens to engulf the world – join us in International Rebellion on October 7th.
If you’ve been feeling grief, anxiety and despair over the state of the world, you’re absolutely not alone. Allowing space to feel and process emotions is an important part of facing the reality of the crisis we’re in. Writing can be a helpful and healthy outlet.
Rebels have put together a book of Letters to the Earth, which will be published in November. It includes contributions from all sorts of voices from the arts sector, including the likes of Yoko Ono, Emma Thompson, and Kate Tempest, but also ‘regular’ people. You can preorder the book here.
Similarly, music and art are a huge part of our Rebellion’s soul. Check out XR Malawi’s launch music video by Lazarus, a Malawian punk busker.
Of course, a key way of getting through the day when the world is on fire is coming together to feel and do something about it. Together, through it all, is how we make a change.
Speaking of coming together: XR UK uses a structure of linked ‘circles’ called a Self-Organising System, which is based on distributing authority throughout the organism via clear mandates and accountabilities. One of these circles has just produced a brilliant presentation which covers the basic ideas. If you’re a national team looking for support using the SOS, you can contact the SOS team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And it’s not all bad news! This week we’ve heard that certain workplaces are supporting their staff to engage in climate activism, on the clock. Staff at Ecosia can attend protests on weekdays and do not need to call in sick; Ecosia will cover any legal costs incurred, and will even count any time employees spend behind bars for the climate and ecological crisis as ‘work hours’.
In the moment of calm before we dive into the next phase of Rebellion, the Newsletter team are going to take some time to regroup and plan for October. We hope you’ll excuse the ‘news eclipse’, as we skip an issue of the newsletter (or two!) to regenerate and grow our team (contact email@example.com if you’d like to contribute to the International Rebellion Newsletter effort).
Whatever this movement attempts and achieves in the weeks to come, and whatever setbacks we face, may we be powered by fierce compassion. For the many beings in danger right now in the Amazon – and for the rest of the world, which could so easily share the Amazon’s fate.
For the sake of the rivers and woods, we’ll see you on the roads on October 7th.
To add your action to the international map, see here.
To learn more about how you can help, and about XR’s history and values, please check out our guide.
To connect to rebels in your local area, find your nearest XR group on this map. If there’s no active group near you, you can start your own! Stay up to date with local upcoming events here, or start your own event by filling in our talks and trainings form!
If you can support us financially, see here to donate now.
Previous newsletter issues can be found here.
Brazilian Embassy Protests
9 – 23 AUG | Worldwide
Rebels staged actions outside Brazilian embassies in over a dozen countries last week to demand an end to the government-sanctioned destruction of the Amazon rainforest and violence against its indigenous people.
The violence stems from a surge in logging, mining, farming, and other commercial exploitation of the region – a direct result of the new Brazilian government, which sees environmental conservation as merely an obstacle to economic growth, and has tacitly approved an era of rampant extractivism, ecocide, and indigenous displacement.
The many rebel protests were timed to coincide with both International Indigenous Peoples Day and the first ever Indigenous Women’s March in Brazil’s capital. More of a festival than a march, the event involved thousands of women protesting over five days and culminated in hundreds of women occupying a health ministry building to demand more from a federal government set to abandon indigenous healthcare programs and leave them to underfunded and underskilled local authorities.
Extinction Rebellion Mzansi (South Africa) coordinated two major actions in solidarity with the Indigenous Women’s March. Rebels in Cape Town swarmed a major road and staged a die-in outside the Brazilian Consulate to raise awareness of the region’s issues. A rebel delegation in Pretoria visited the Brazilian Embassy to deliver an open letter demanding an end to Amazon deforestation and the forced removal of its people.
In the UK, an affinity group splattered the Brazilian Embassy in London with red paint to symbolise the blood of the hundreds killed since the October 2018 election of the country’s current far-right regime. Rebels blockaded the building’s entrances with the help of superglue and bike locks, and covered the walls and windows with messages of dissent. Rebel reinforcements arrived from a march for murdered environmentalists that also targeted the embassy.
One week later, hundreds of rebels re-appeared outside the Embassy, this time blocking both lanes of traffic, and listening to the testimony of indigenous speakers including representatives from the Huni Kuin and Kaxinawa.
German rebels performed translated speeches by indigenous women and staged a photo installation outside the Brazilian Embassy in Berlin.
Swiss rebels of various ages carried a ‘bloodstained’ coffin to the Brazillian Embassy in Bern and held up photos of murdered environmental defenders and deforested regions. In Lisbon, Portuguese rebels doused themselves in fake blood and staged a die-in on tram tracks outside their Brazilian Embassy.
In the town of Bakau in Gambia, rebels staged a ‘chalkivist’ die-in to demand an end to Amazon industrialisation and a boycott of Cargill, America’s biggest private company, which has razed a staggering amount of the region’s rainforest to grow soya for livestock feed.
Rebels in Mumbai, India, joined forces with other campaigners to march in solidarity with both the Indigenous Women of Brazil and the more local Adivasi tribes of the Aarey Forest.
Related actions united under the banner “Indigenous blood – Not one more drop” were carried out by XR chapters in America, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Chile, Colombia, France, and Spain. Apologies to all rebels around the world whose vital contributions could not be covered here in more detail.
More details on the frankly shocking behaviour of the Brazilian government towards the region and its people are available here.
The Amazon rainforest plays a pivotal role in decarbonising our planet, and its indigenous people have supported and safeguarded it for generations. Rebels must continue to denounce its destruction by the state and show solidarity with the people on the front line of this battle – a battle that will ultimately affect us all.
Further XR protests and product boycotts are being planned worldwide should our collective call to the Brazilian government not be heeded.
Kiwi Rebels Block Coal Train
8 August | Christchurch, New Zealand
About 30 brave Christchurch rebels chained and locked themselves to railway tracks to stop a train taking coal to Lyttleton Port for export. Nineteen were arrested, over half released without charge with police warnings and trespass notices.
Rebel Siana Fitzjohn said: “This is the launch of our rebellion against coal. We are here to say coal is over in New Zealand. We are in the middle of a climate emergency and we should not be digging coal out of the ground. We should not be using it locally and we should not be shipping it overseas.”
Drastic times require drastic measures.
Introducing XR Unchained!
Since we can no longer fit all the beautiful, inspiring actions from the XR community into one email, we’ve created a new space called XR Unchained. Here, you can read all about actions that happen around the world, as the movement continues to grow and amaze.
This week featuring:
A crafty menu switcheroo from rebels in XR Bondi Beach; ‘pirate rebels’ employing ninja skills in the port of Falmouth; an act of aquatic Indian solidarity in Delhi; two museum exhibits in London; and two outstandingly beautiful actions on opposite sides of the world, one in red and one in black.
One of the great joys of our decentralised movement is how often we are surprised, amazed and inspired by actions from around the world. If you’ve got an action coming up that you’d like us to share here, please tell us about it at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Three strikes and you’re out
From 20 SEP | Planet Earth
In less than a month, we will enter a phase of ecological action unlike anything in history. On the 20th of September, the global climate strike begins. From Greta and Fridays for Future to Greenpeace to ActionAid, the amount of resources and organisations behind this strike is enormous. Have no doubt, this will stop the show. The show will remain stopped until the advent of Earth Strike on September the 27th.
Just ten days later, Extinction Rebellion will take our cue. Starting on October 7th, we rebel worldwide, shutting down cities and disrupting ‘business as usual’ for as long as it takes.
This is a movement of movements, and we share a single cause.
Abrazo al Río (Embrace the River)
07 September | A river near you!
XR Colombia are inviting everyone who can to embrace (bathe, serenade, paddle, swim in) a river this 7th September: to show love to our rivers which are symbolic of life, peace, recycling of energy, and to highlight their vulnerability to fracking, mining, and pollution. The movement started to highlight the problems with the Rio Negro in Argentina but is a growing movement across Latin America. Please print this poster and film yourselves embracing your local river this 7th September!
Worldwide Critical Mass
8 September | Worldwide
On September the 8th – one month before the International Rebellion on 7 October – we invite people all over the world to engage in direct action against the climate crisis, by occupying roads in their local cities with a huge group of cyclists!
This is a tried and tested tactic, already adopted to great effect by many branches of the XR tree. It’s an enjoyable event and easy to organise: see here for tips and advice, and we’ll see you on the roads!
Repainting the streets
XR Mzansi are mobilising for “another round of Paint the Streets”; XR UK has also announced ‘Paint the Streets 2’ starting in early September (email email@example.com if you’d like to help with organising this). With October now just seven weeks away, we’re sure rebels all over the world are right behind them. For those who missed the last one, get ready to see (or better yet, print and distribute) messages of truth in pretty much any public space you enter.
We’ve already got a full range of open source designs, and advice in both pdf and open-edit formats, along with a magnificent guide for arts groups, and a still-more-impressive 50-page artistic master-doc from XR UK’s Arts team. What more could anyone need? Let’s paint the town green!
Day of the Dead
11 September | Fribourg, Switzerland
We’ve noticed a trend of increasingly beautiful, eye-catching and visually unforgettable actions as the weeks go by. If XR Switzerland’s mesmerising skull is anything to go on, we can expect this to continue with a ‘Day of the Dead’ on the 11th of September in Fribourg.
Rebel Rising Festivals
Mid Aug- mid Sep | Across the UK
It is time to get together and get ready! Find your local Rebel Rising Festival. A great place to learn more about Extinction Rebellion, plan for the upcoming October rebellion, get trained – whether it’s your first Non Violent Direct Action Training, or more advanced activist workshops for seasoned rebels – enjoy some good food and music, and make new connections and reconnections with friendly rebels new and old.
‘No Food on a Dying Planet’ – Dover Blockade
21 Sep │Dover, UK │10:00 – 15:00
Extinction Rebellion UK is calling for hundreds of people to peacefully and non-violently block roads out of Dover on Saturday 21 September.
About 50% of the UK’s food is imported through ports like Dover. Newspapers are predicting empty supermarket shelves as a result of Brexit, but this is nothing compared to the misery of hunger and famine the ecological crisis will bring. The Dover road block aims to highlight the extreme vulnerability of the British people to food insecurity.
The Dover Blockade will NOT stop medicine and food supplies getting through. It is a symbolic one-day blockage that will cause major delays, but nothing critical.
We need as many people as possible to participate in this action. Please sign up for the action here.
30 Aug – 02 Sep | Manchester
Next weekend, Manchester will host XR rebels from across the North. There will be talks, training and workshops, direct actions big and small, plus music, art, food and regeneration.
The Extinction Rebellion Rebel Ringers are a new group with the mandate to contact, inform and engage as many people about XR as they can. Rebel Ringers make phone calls to the XR community to help keep the movement united and committed so that we hit the streets and ACT TOGETHER NOW!
The beauty of this method of volunteering is that it’s flexible and restorative. Rebel Ringing allows people to contribute while at home, at any reasonable hour of the day, for however long as they want – each phone call is valuable. But Rebel Ringing does not need to be a solitary exercise; organising events or evenings focused on Rebel Ringing has proven hugely effective and really fun.
• Get the Rebel Ringers Starter Pack here… all you need to join the Rebel Ringer community and get Ringing for the Rebellion.
New book: ‘Letters to the Earth’
A book of letters chronicling how humankind is collectively processing planetary crisis will be published in November by HarperCollins. These letters of love, loss, hope and action were written by over 1000 people worldwide – from 4 year olds to great grandparents, authors, scientists, nurses. The book will be printed on recycled paper and all royalties will go towards ongoing creative campaigning for environmental justice. You can pre-order your copy here.
Arts for green hearts
We’re excited to announce that the all-encompassing design programme V1.1 is now available for download with all the most recent design assets.
Art Blockers – The latest Art Blockers zine ‘How To: Flag Making’ is finished and in circulation – hoping again to decentralise creative capacity. All XR Art Blocker resources can be found here.
Arts Working Group Guidelines document is now available with contact information for various departments.
Planning for ‘Paint the Streets 2’ is also now underway. Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to help. Designers have been sent briefs for the posters and we should have a set to send to print before the end of August with a rough on-the-streets date for around early September.
Writers for XR
An internationally-scaled working group is looking for experienced and/or enthusiastic writers and editors. We’re looking to spread our vital message across as many channels, forms and audiences as possible; this group is also a good entry-point to working on similar teams, including the newsletter team(!), which is keen to bring in more people to help with covering October. Whether you write poetry or analytical articles, fiction or fact, or we’d love to work with you. If you think you can help, please email email@example.com with ‘writing’ in the subject line.
Independent action at Heathrow Airport
As you may know there was a debate in XR UK about flying toy drones near Heathrow to call for an end to the Third Runway Expansion. This expansion is going to be the biggest carbon intensive infrastructure project in Europe.
Out of respect for the people who did not want to have it as an official XR action, it is going ahead as an independent action – ‘The Heathrow Pause’. Individuals associated with XR are taking part and meetings are now happening around the country for people who are interested in being briefed on the details. If you would like more information about this then please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Due to space constraints and an overwhelming amount of interesting news, rebels inclined towards UK-specific news can find the latest useful information on our all-new UK Announcements page.
This week features an open request to encourage and even accompany your local MP to a ‘Heading for Extinction’ talk at Parliament; an exciting opportunity to engage with supportive trade unions near you; a chance to personally and easily influence the UK food strategy; and a request for help with crowdfunding legal costs.
- The last cries of an Imperilled Amazon (article, 1,800 words; ~ 10 mins)
With the Amazon rainforest currently facing an altogether new level of destruction, Victor Chaix (a member of XR Paris) reflects on the significance of what’s being lost, and on the plight of those who stand to lose the most.
- These two videos of rebellious actions from XR St Ives and XR Western Australia blew us away. They may have happened on opposite sides of the world, but these two actions were united by a similar sense of dignified grief, eye-catching aesthetics, and top-notch videography.
This week, in the History Corner we remember the 200th anniversary of the Peterloo massacre in Manchester, when a mounted cavalry charged into a crowd of 60-80,000 peaceful protesters.
Ethiopians planted an estimated 350 million trees in one day in an effort to reverse the trend of deforestation in the country. Kenya too has suffered similar declines in tree cover and there are calls to restore the five ‘water tower’ forests that supply the country with 75% of its fresh water. On the other hand the government of Niger has shrunk a major biodiversity reserve to allow for Chinese oil exploration.
Donald Trump has gutted the endangered species act and a new study has found that US agriculture is 48 times more toxic to insects than it was 25 years ago. On the bright side, it seems that the hugely destructive shale gas / fracking boom could finally be winding down.
Monsanto has been running an FBI-style ‘intelligence fusion center’ to harass and discredit critics like journalist Carey Gillam and singer Neil Young. Good news is the UK home office has said it will stop using the term “domestic extremism” to brand campaigners.
Thank you for reading. There’s so much exciting stuff going on that we barely have time to write this sign-off. Keep up the good work! If you have any questions or queries, please get in touch at email@example.com.
As we enter this crucial phase in human history, our Rebellion will need money to make sure our message is heard. Anything you can give is appreciated.