The French government told us a big lie, and we believed it

shoes left in silent climate protest in Paris
Shoes left in silent climate protest in Paris

Jonathan Neale writes: After the killings in Paris, the government immediately banned all public demonstrations under a state of emergency. They told the climate coalition we could not march. That seemed to make a sort of sense to most people in the climate movement. Isn’t it terrible, we said. But most people in Paris thought they understood why the French government was doing it.

Except, when the Charlie Hebdo killings happened earlier this year, the French government called for a massive demonstration. No one – not one person in the world – suggested that demonstration interfered with security.

And I have been in Paris for a week. This is not a city under martial law, or a state of emergency. Police presence is light – hardly noticeable in most walks of life. In reality only one thing is forbidden in Paris – protesting to save the world’s climate.

The French government did not want a march of 500,000 in Paris on November 29. They saw their chance. They forbade the march. They used the deaths of all those people to stop us trying to save hundreds of millions more. Most of us were sick at heart, and shaken, and some of us were afraid. So they fooled us.

Why did they do that? Because this COP will end with an agreement that will make sure that global emissions rise next year, and in 2017, and in 2018, and in every year until 2030. At the end of the COP on Saturday the French government, the American, the Chinese, and all the rest, plan to trumpet that disaster in triumph across the world. To do that, they had to make sure we were not heard.

The French government have also ordered us not to demonstrate on Saturday at the end of the COP. But we have decided: we will protest together on Saturday in Paris. We hope you will protest or hold vigils – whatever you can do – across the world, to say this is not the end of the planet, we will fight on, in the living hope that we will win.

There will be trade unionists on that demonstration too, for many reasons. But one of them is that the right to free assembly, the right to meet in groups of more than two, the right to protest, is bedrock for trade unionism. Without those rights, working people cannot defend themselves.

Please join us.

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