RAPAR's Community Development Lead and actor Maddie Wakeling is in court tomorrow (Monday September 9th) for campaigning against climate change.
Maddie, 22, was one of 16 people arrested on charges of obstructing a main road into Bristol city centre on July 17th as part of an Extinction Rebellion protest to publicise the climate crisis.
The environmentalists deny wilfully obstructing the highway . Although they agree they obstructed the road, they are all pleading Not Guilty because their actions were justified by the climate emergency. Maddie told the initial Bristol court hearing in July: "We have the right to act according to our consciences."
She took an active part in the successful four day Northern Rebellion closure of Deansgate last weekend and was at Manchester's Civil Justice Court to support anti fracking protesters.
Maddie works with RAPAR's Casework and Campaigns sections and, at the Northern Rebellion, she spoke about the growing number of "climate refugees" being driven out of their homes by catastrophic weather changes and the activities of multinational corporations.
In her role as RAPAR's Community Development Lead, Maddie co-ordinates RAPAR's Drama Group who recently performed their play "Through the Walls: An Incredible Weekfor the Banks" at HOME Manchester and The Met, Bury, during Refugee Week. They will be performing it again during Black History Month in October.
Maddie's acting work has included a part in Out of Kilter Theatre's "Small Histories", which toured North West venues recently. Last month, she and a friend took their KahloTheatre production "Life Between Yes And No" to the Edinburgh Fringe where it received a number of excellent reviews.
For more information, please contact:
Dr Rhetta Moran 07776264646
Kath Grant 07758386208
The Frack-Free Three - Katrina Lawrie, Christopher Wilson, and Lee Walsh, protestors from the Frack-Free Lancashire campaign - were back in court for sentencing on Tuesday in a case centred round the right to protest.
All three had locked themselves together in July to delay access to the fracking site in Lancashire run by the company Cuadrilla. Ms Lawrie had also stepped out into the road to stop a lorry in August and, because of the wet roads, the lorry allegedly had to swerve into the path of oncoming traffic. No-one was hurt in the incident.
At a previous hearing, the campaigners had admitted breaching an order related to protests outside the site. They had been found not guilty of any criminal offences so today’s hearing was only about the breach of civil law.
The three were supported outside the court by comrades from a wide variety of environmental and community groups. Yesterday (Monday), people from the nearby Extinction Rebellion occupation in Deansgate marched to the court led by a samba band. A spokesperson said: “We made a democratic decision yesterday to start our march with a show of solidarity with the anti-frackers because they too are fighting big companies that make money without regard to the damage they are doing to our planet.”
A RAPAR spokesperson said fracking was destroying homes and communities around the world and will cause widespread disruption and displacement of people if it is allowed to continue.
“The number of ‘environmental refugees’ is rapidly increasing due to the activities of large companies and multinationals. RAPAR backs all activists protesting against companies like Cuadrilla. We also support the right to protest without the threat of arrest and imprisonment.”
In court, Adam Wagner, on behalf of Ms Lawrie and Mr Walsh, told the judge, Mr JHH Pelling, that his clients had been protesting against the controversial practice of fracking which contributes to global warming. He compared the protests with others, such as Peterloo and the campaign for women’s suffrage.
The latest earthquake at the Cuadrilla fracking site is said to have shaken houses five miles away.
Mr Wagner said all forms of peaceful protest are protected under the European Convention on Human Rights. The case involved a large company using its substantial financial resources to prevent protests by seeking an injunction. Fear of such wide ranging orders could have a “chilling effect” on the right to protest.
Tom Roscoe, for Cuadrilla, spoke of the need to protect his client’s right to access the site. He saw no need for protestors to be walking on the carriageway when there is a footway alongside but the judge pointed out that the court could not insist that people use the pavement.
The judge ruled in favour of some variations to the court order so the new order will allow protestors to walk in the road for the purpose of protest, but not when it is deliberately being done to delay the Cuadrilla lorries.
He sentenced all three to four weeks imprisonment, suspended for two years, on condition that they comply with the amended order. Ms Lawrie also received a two month suspended sentence for the separate incident in August.
The protestors were ordered to pay costs. These were later estimated as approximately £70k. The three people do not have the money to pay but anti fracking campaigners said afterwards that the possibility of protestors having costs awarded against them may well deter homeowners and people with other assets from taking part in future peaceful protests.
RAPAR members from Southern Cameroon, Zimbabwe, Democratc Republic of Congo and Sierra Leone are taking part in Extinction Rebellion's climate crisis events in Deansgate, Manchester, today and over the weekend.
The crisis is leading to a huge increase in the numbers of displaced people who have been forced to leave their homes and are now being termed "Climate Refugees".
RAPAR will be taking part in the Connecting Global Movements for Social Justice session at 4pm on Deansgate today.
Currently, this climate emergency and ongoing refugee crisis is set to worsen: the shape of Bangladesh is rapidly changing; the Maldives will submerge if seas levels rise 1.5m; Kiribati and Tuvalu are likely to lose islands. Around 21.8 million people are being displaced annually by weather related disaster: 41 people every minute since 2008 (UNHCR). These people - and countless more – are becoming dubbed Climate Refugees who fall outside of current legislation, being unable to prove persecution and therefore ineligible to claim asylum under the Geneva Convention.
The term Climate Refugee may be new but the crisis is not. The Global North’s pattern of mass consumption, manufactured by Capitalism and the colonial mindset of exploitation and oppression, have created this moment of ecological collapse and rapid climate change where hundreds of thousands of people are compelled to leave their homes for inhumane refugee camps, mostly on their borders, and dehumanising asylum systems around the world.
Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)
The DRC has some of the richest mineral deposits in the world, and multinational companies exploit these resources for commodities, like the Coltan in every single mobile phone. These same companies also finance and arm Militia’s, creating intense insecurity – over 1,150 women are raped every day and 4.5 million people have been displaced – and continuously undermining the DRC peoples’ efforts to realise democratic government. Mass media silence about the massacres and violations in DRC is inextricably linked to the interests of those multinational companies who extract DRC’s natural resources.
With teachers paid as little as $30 a month, the people here live in poverty. People work in the mines for very, very little and in incredibly dangerous conditions. The electricity is so rarely working, because of the government’s failings, that the people are forced to chop down their forests for fire wood. Leaders here have large shares in the mining companies (such as Rio Tinto). The Government, led by Zanu PF, siphons off huge amounts of money (enough to pay the current Zimbabwean humanitarian aid appeal).
French North Cameroon, independent since 1960, and British South Cameroon, independent since 1961, decided to run the country together as a Federal System, but France appointed a President, Amadou Ahijo who changed it to a centralised system, making the national, legal and educational language French – despite South Cameroon having English as their main shared language. The country is still using the French CFA which means the money spent in Cameroon pays tax in France. In 2016, the President declared war on the South Cameroon. Since then thousands of people have been displaced, homes burned to the ground, people killed and whole villages lost – a direct and ongoing result of Europe's colonisation of Africa.
It’s now been a year of Ebola on the border of DRC and Rwanda, the second largest Ebola epidemic on record. Since 1st August 2018, more than 1,900 lives have been lost, with 2,900 people infected. On average, 81 cases of Ebola have been reported each week for the past six weeks. When the Ebola outbreak happened in Sierra Leone in 2004, companies such as Golden Petroleum were (and still are) buying up land to grow palm oil, forcing people off their land, leaving them without the means to grow food, and rendering them reliant on bush meat. There was a tangible correlation between the location of the palm oil plantations and the peaks of the Ebola outbreaks. This same pattern is currently reflected in the DRC: the people being driven off their land by multi-national industries who manufacture western consumption patterns, are themselves being forced to eat bush meat and endure the consequences of systematic negligence and indifference.
Together, we will change this world and make a future, Together.
Written by RAPAR members: Vitalis Mbua (Secretary General SCNC), Noah Zvinavashe (Organisational Secretary MDC Manchester Branch), Barly Koyangabwa (Deputy Representative APERECO North West), Maddie Wakeling (Community Development Lead, RAPAR)