What’s Happening newsletter #10

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Real Media and Phoenix Media Co-op have teamed up to release a regular newsletter. We collectively seek to provide bold, accurate, accessible journalism which is unashamedly internationalist and subversive. At the centre of this is covering the work of people in the UK and globally who are forging a better world, largely by organising against marginalisation, oppression and destruction.

Edmonton Incinerator

Five people were arrested after protesters used bamboo structures and lock-ons to blockade three gates at the North London Edmonton incinerator on Monday 13 December and shut down work at the plant for the day.

Plans to expand the Enfield plant hugely are coming to a head this week, with seven London councils recently debating on whether to approve the scheme, attracting protests, lobbies and petitions.

In Islington, a Green motion to pause the expansion was controversially re-written by Labour councillors before the full council meeting began and their “amendment” recommended the expansion instead. Despite community pressure, Haringey is the only council so far to express concern, calling for a ‘Pause and Review’.

The North London Waste Authority (NLWA) looks set to approve the scheme on Thursday 16 December, awarding the contract to Spanish-based corporation Acciona (which has faced controversy and problems with corruption and safety).

Acciona CEO José Manuel Entrecanales was caught on video at COP26 admitting that the proposed development is massively oversized, and an All Parliamentary Committee on Air Pollution has just released a report recommending that all incinerator expansions be halted immediately to protect human health and cut carbon emissions.

The Edmonton incinerator is situated in a poor area with a higher than average percentage of people of colour (around 65%). According to a study by Imperial College, deprived communities like those around Edmonton are already hit hardest by air pollution, causing health and especially respiratory and cardio-vascular problems, and yet waste incinerators are three times more likely to be built in these areas, compounding the issues. Edmonton’s ambient air pollution levels already exceed EU limits, but the UK has actively lobbied the EU against higher air pollution standards.

A group of local doctors want the plans halted on the basis of the precautionary principle, citing health concerns, and the campaign has brought together diverse groups including Black Lives Matter, Extinction Rebellion, and Unite the Union. See the full list in the flier below.

Acciona and the NLWA claim that particulates will be managed by a selective catalytic reduction system, but a study by ZeroWasteEurope showed that even state-of-the-art technology produces hidden emissions.

They also promise that in the future carbon emissions will be controlled through carbon capture technology, but carbon capture technology is currently too expensive and unworkable, and a recent report by the National Infrastructure Commission warns that carbon targets are at risk because of the increase in incineration.

Although the NLWA claim that the plant will improve sorting and recycling rates, a government inquiry into recycling heard evidence that local authorities with incinerators have lower rates of recycling and, in general, recycling rates have actually plateaued or even fallen over many years.

On Thursday 16 December, campaigners will be protesting from 12.45pm at the NLWA, Crowndale Centre, NW11BD, where the deal with Acciona is set to be signed.

What’s Happening

Watch our full film report in this week’s What’s Happening news round-up.

#KillTheBill Reignited

UK Home Secretary Priti Patel slipped in 18 pages of amendments last week to the controversial Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, at a stage when it was nearly ready to be signed off by the House of Lords. This move will criminalise actions such as vandalising statues, and will also criminalise trespass which will disproportionately affect the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities. The amendments will also give police even more powers to shut down protests.

Feminist direct action group Sisters Uncut responded passionately on Twitter, urging people to “RESIST [the Bill] in our THOUSANDS & REFUSE TO CONSENT TO THESE POWERS #KilltheBill”.

The group argued that Patel’s recent move has proved beyond doubt that direct action and resistance is now the only way forward. It said: “Within the KTB movement some felt making the bill ungovernable was the vision while others preferred a parliamentary strategy. That debate has now been answered.”

Journalist Bibi van der Zee tweeted about her 89-year old mum Barbara Griggs’ fury over the Bill. She shared a picture of her mum protesting out in the cold, wrapped up in gloves and a red hat.

What's Happening

Credit: Instagram / @killthebill_official

Some Good News from the Courts

On Friday 10 December, six activists were acquitted by a jury at Inner London Crown Court over their protest back in April 2019. The original protest, filmed by Real Media, was part of Extinction Rebellion’s April Rebellion and involved holding up the DLR network near Canary Wharf by climbing on top of, and gluing to the windows of a train there. They all admitted planning and carrying out the protest but persuaded the jury that their actions had been a lawful response to imminent climate breakdown and ecological collapse.

Last week we reported on the acquittal of Palestine Action protesters who had blockaded a subsidiary of the Israeli arms manufacturer Elbit Systems. You can see our interview with one of the ‘Shenstone 3’ in this week’s What’s Happening news round up.

West Papua rally

On 6 December, activists marched in a “huge rally for right to self-determination”, in the Dogiyai Regency of West Papua. A video of the rally was Tweeted by “exiled” Indonesian human rights lawyer Veronica Koman, who now lives in Australia following intimidation from the Indonesian authorities for her activism.

Indigenous West Papuans have been calling to secede from the current Indonesian regime since the territory was signed over to Indonesia from the Dutch government in 1969. The region has seen decades of resistance with the most recent series of protests occurring from 2019 onwards, sparked by racist taunts against indigenous Papuan students in Surabaya.

“Under international law #WestPapua is a case of incomplete decolonisation AND a case of occupation AND a place of multiple ongoing human rights violations,” said International Lawyers for West Papua, a movement of lawyers working to help the West Papuan cause. The organisation provides legal advice to the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP), the freedom fighters leading the movement.

In a decision which was hailed as a landmark victory for indigenous rights, an Indonesian court backed the decision of the head of the Sorong Regency, Johny Kamaru, to revoke the plantation permits of palm oil companies PT Papua Lestari Abadi and PR Sorong Agro Sawitindo. The companies were planning to carry out projects in the ancestral lands of the local Moi people, one of more than 250 ethnic groups in Papua. Lawyer Koman described the decision as “One step forward towards the fulfilment of (internal) right to self-determination of Indigenous peoples in West Papua and Indonesia…

“We ALL Toppled Coulston”

There was big show of solidarity outside Bristol Crown Court on Monday 13 December as Rhian Graham, Milo Ponsford, Jake Skuse and Sage Willoughby went on trial after being accused of criminal damage for toppling the statue of slave trader Edward Coulston. One protester held a placard saying: “We ALL Toppled Coulston”.

Photo credits: Phoenix Media Co-op

Other News

  • On Monday 13 December, activists from The Last Generation – Citizens’ Assemblies NOW blocked one of Rome’s major ring roads during rush hour to challenge the Italian government’s lack of actions in the face of the climate emergency. This was the fifth time the group blocked key roads around Rome since the campaign started on 6th December, risking prison and high fines ranging from 1000€ to 4000€. The activists have since suffered “serious police repression” but vowed to continue highlighting “the seriousness of the situation and the need for greater democratic participation in making the choices necessary to ensure a safe and just transition for climate and ecology”, according to XR.

What's Happening

Credit: Twitter / assembleecittadineora

  • “Guilty! Not above the law anymore!” tweeted Keep The Ban, following news of the Western Hunt’s huntsman’s conviction under the Dangerous Dogs Act.

Cornish huntsman John Lanyon Sampson was found guilty of allowing dogs to be out of control, leading to the killing of beloved pet cat Mini, whose death after being mauled by hunting dogs sparked national outrage. Grieving owner Carly Jose set up a petition following the killing in March, which gathered more than a hundred thousand signatures to urge the government to introduce Mini’s Law, a legislation to make hunts near residential or public areas illegal.

A nationwide ‘silent strike’ against the junta saw the main streets of Myanmar deserted and storefronts closed. This action followed days after there were reports of a massacre conducted by soldiers against those opposing the country’s military rule.

That’s all for this week, but please let us know of any stories and issues you’d like to see more of, and remember to subscribe to our YouTube channel and check out our Wednesday evening shows (UK time).