Defiant protesters stage climate march

Activists in Paris defy government ban on public demonstrations following the terror attacks.

November 30, 2015 03:43 am | Updated October 18, 2016 03:03 pm IST - PARIS

Environmentalists walk behind a banner which reads, 'Climate Emergency. Summon to Resistance' near the Place de la Republique on Sunday.

Environmentalists walk behind a banner which reads, 'Climate Emergency. Summon to Resistance' near the Place de la Republique on Sunday.

On a cold, winter Sunday evening in Paris, the sound of tear gas shells ricocheting at the site where France’s Marianne stands, signalled the tense atmosphere here, a day before the UN climate change summit took off.

A little over two weeks after terror attacks by the Islamic State (IS) rocked the city, the government has imposed a ban on public demonstrations citing security concerns. However, on Sunday, activists and residents assembled at the Place de la République, defying the ban, walking together and shouting slogans. Around 4,500 linked hands in a peaceful protest near the site of the deadliest of the attacks. The colourful human chain passed near the Bataclan concert hall where 90 people were killed in the suicide bombings and shootings.

Dozens of French climate activists have been placed under house arrest to prevent them from demonstrating in Paris.

The sloganeers pointed at the hypocritical attitude of the French government that was hosting the Conference of Parties (COP) to arrive at a strong agreement to limit global warming but not allowing concerned individuals to convey their messages to the heads of government. Around 700 riot police personnel were deployed at the site, who sealed off the Republique square. The metro station next to the square was shut down after the protesters started gathering in large numbers, with the police firing tear gas shells to dispel them. Around 100 people were arrested.

Caroline, a long-time resident of Paris, who participated in the walks, however held that disobedience was necessary in the context of security-related concerns resulting in civil liberties being curbed in the country, which is against French values.

Bernhild Halemeyer (70), an activist-member of the French organisation ATTAC, which mobilises people against globalisation, had travelled all the way from Germany to be a part of the global march but said she was disappointed with the thin turnout. She said that the advanced economies of the world, who had contributed the most to climate change, needed to be confronted on their laxity to address concerns relating to carbon emissions.

Climate change activists from across the globe held walks expressing solidarity with protesters in Paris, with demonstrations taking place in London’s Westminster, in Australian cities such as Sydney, Brisbane and Canberra and Auckland in New Zealand.

( with agency inputs )

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