What’s Happening newsletter #8

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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.

Global Majority Vs Government

Climate litigation charity Plan B was in the High Court last week supporting three student climate activists who are challenging the government over lack of meaningful climate action. The campaign is also being supported by Stop The Maangamizi.

The hearing on 25 November was an appeal hearing, following an initial refusal to proceed with litigation which the activists had served on high-level politicians back in May.

The case is being brought by Adetola Onamade, Jerry Amokwandoh, and Marina Tricks, who are young British citizens with family in the Caribbean, Africa, and Latin America, areas which are already experiencing extreme climate destruction and resulting economic breakdown. They allege that the UK government’s failure to make adequate plans for tackling climate breakdown breaches their rights to life, to family life, and the prohibition of discrimination in the enjoyment of those rights – it also breaches the Paris Agreement and violates international law.

The judgement on their appeal will be handed down some time in the coming weeks.

The hearing took place just a week after nine climate protesters were sent to prison by a High Court judge with close family connections to the oil industry, using a controversial private injunction rather than existing laws and with no right to a jury.

Barrister Paul Powlesland (Garden Court Chambers) said in our weekly YouTube What’s Happening news round-up that judges are wandering into the political field and are therefore fair game for political critique of their role and what they are doing.

Certainly Adetola and Jerry, who attended the court in person, have no illusions over the legacy of the judiciary, but see this case as providing an opportunity for judges to show they can move away from that legacy and stand with the Global Majority rather than the failing government, or to demonstrate clearly that “these courts are not the courts that are building the future that we need”.

Parallel to the litigation route, the campaign is about resistance and community-building, modelling on successful Pueblos Unidos People’s Tribunals in Mexico that have liberated and emancipated people and their lands. (See full interviews with Jerry and Adetola in this week’s What’s Happening show.)

On the last Saturday of every month, Brixton is the site of a Global Majority Artivists Jam where people come together to talk about resistance, solutions, art and community, often with film projections from Mexico. More info at Global Majority Vs campaign.

Resisting misogynist violence

25 November was International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. In London there was a protest vigil outside New Scotland Yard organised by Million Women Rise. The day was marked with marches, gatherings and protests calling for an end to gender-based violence in countries across the world.

The Via Campesina (LVC) international peasants’ movement marked the day with a newly launched graphic book that traces The Path of Peasant & Popular Feminism. In a series of powerful illustrations it reveals the role of women in the global fight for food sovereignty and their centrality in promoting peasant and popular feminism in their territories and organisations. There are also testimonies by peasant leaders from across continents in implementing the Global Campaign to End Violence Against Women which Via Campesina has been championing for many years. 

The book is a free download at the link above.

Demanding justice for gig-economy workers

Brave New Europe’s Gig Economy Project follows developments in precarious employment across the continent. Deliveroo has shut down its operations in Spain following the introduction of a new Rider’s Law which is supposed to help precarious workers. But the company’s departure is partly in the face of commercial competition, while the new ruling hasn’t been backed by the enforcement necessary to protect workers against exploitation. And in Brussels, a court ruling has completely shut down Uber, but again this is because of trade lobbying by the traditional Taxis Verts company rather than to improve conditions for precarious workers, and has left 2,000 drivers without work.

In the UK, grassroots unions like UVW and IWGB are slowly but surely organising to strengthen the rights of workers. The Stuart Delivery drivers in Sheffield took to the streets on 28 November and are calling for a strike from 6 December.

Other News

  • Paralympian James Brown is still in prison waiting for an appeal against his sentence. The trustees of the Mobiloo charity which he founded have sacked him. Supporters have set up a crowdfunder to help him get back on his feet when he is released. His appeal is finally being heard at the Royal Courts of Justice on Wednesday 8 December, and there will be a vigil outside Wandsworth Prison in anticipation of his release later that day.
  • Environmental campaigners held a rally and fast outside Downing Street in support of UK political prisoners on 30 November. This was especially for Emma Smart, the Insulate Britain prisoner who has just been moved to the hospital wing at HMP Bronzefield after 14 days on hunger strike. The campaign’s demand for meaningful government action on home insulation to tackle fuel poverty and carbon emissions has had no response other than the use of a private injunction to imprison them.
  • Pensioners marched on Downing Street last Friday angry at the unacceptable levels of excess winter deaths due to fuel poverty and cold homes. The protest, organised annually by Fuel Poverty Action, highlights the estimated excess 10,000 winter deaths each year – a disgrace in one of the richest countries on the planet.
  • Following the horrific drowning of 27 refugees attempting to cross the Channel on 24 November, a solidarity protest attracted hundreds at short notice on Thursday outside the Home Office, calling for safe passage and an end to the ‘hostile environment’.
  • While rich countries rush towards a future of mass ownership of privately-owned electric cars as their response to the climate crisis, the environmental cost of minerals such as cobalt and lithium is huge. In Serbia there have been huge protests relating to a planned lithium mine project which the government has granted to Anglo-Australian giant Rio Tinto. Protesters are angry at recent government constitutional changes which allow wide compulsory purchase orders and take away citizens’ powers to stop major developments by holding referendums.

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).