Can we just retreat and shout at the TV news when our civil liberties are further curtailed by government?

First published in March 2021.

Uganda. | Google Maps


A couple of weeks ago, in Uganda, three young people holding placards asking for action on the climate crisis were arrested and taken away by the police. They were eventually released only by promising to give up their right to protest in future.

Vanessa Nakate

They have been released with a condition that they will not strike again in any public place! This is outrageous! Thank you for your support. We are heading home now. If you can, send a message of support to them or follow them: @eve_chantel @Becca_abitimo @_paphras  

The Philippines. | Google Maps

The Philippines

Meanwhile, in the Philippines, more young people stand up and tell their brutally murderous government that they must act on the crisis which is already hitting their country harder than almost anywhere else. The threats against them from their government are very real.

Mitzi Jonelle Tan

THE TERROR LAW PUTS A TARGET ON THE BACK OF CLIMATE ACTIVISTS AND ALL ACTIVISTS. Even just posting on social media can be tagged as an act of terrorism!

Today the people's movement went out once again on the streets, and now in the court to junk the terror law. 37 challenges

India. | Google Maps


In India, Disha Ravi, the young climate activist arrested and imprisoned by the state, is finally released because a judge told the court “Citizens cannot be put behind bars just because they choose to disagree with State policy.”

Disha’s thoughts on her experience:

Disha Ravi

I'm letting this out into the internet void in order to present a narrative that is my own.

P.S. This is based on my personal experience and does not represent the opinion of any climate movement, group, or organisation.

If you haven’t yet read Naomi Klein’s superb article on the background to Disha Ravi’s imprisonment and the truly disturbing links between the Indian government and big tech, it’s here. Your government knows this.

United Kingdom. | Google Maps

United Kingdom

Before you warmly congratulate yourself that, if you’re reading this in the UK, you live in a kindly and well organised democracy that is a beacon to the world (you don’t!), two things:

First, this:

Musa Okwonga

English exceptionalism is killing us. “Our police won’t do that - not like those hardline ones somewhere overseas”. But they do. “Our politicians won’t do that - not like those corrupt ones somewhere overseas.” But they do. We deny it can happen in England, until it’s too late.  

And second, we come back to today and the monstrous Police & Crime Bill being hurried through the Commons like a criminal with a blanket over his head. And no wonder.

The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill. | UK Parliament

Daniel Sohege

Potentially ten years in prison for causing the rather oblique matter of "serious annoyance" is a truly terrifying move to suppress civil liberties.  

So if, as seems inevitable, the authoritarian ideologues get their way, what is left? It is clear that they represent nobody but wealthy tax avoiders and intellectually impoverished bigots who make up the noisy core of Tory support. Can we just retreat and shout at the TV news?

I think that what we have witnessed in the past week tells us that isn’t going to happen.

Later this year, COP26 is happening in Glasgow. Before then, I urge us all to read this from one of the brightest and best people I know:

Prof Juju #StandWithDishaRavi

It's Sunday morning and I have something rather unformed to say. It's about our posture to government and authority as we try our damnedest to struggle against planetary breakdown and its human & biodiversity toll. Longish 🧵, sorry. 1/  

Bearing in mind the powerful message above from Musa Okwonga, I leave you with this final thought that links this back to the top of this piece. Ayebale Paphras may like to know he is not alone.

Ayebale Paphras

It's only in Uganda where you are more likely to be arrested for striking compared to embezzling billions of money. Thank you @vanessa_vash for the quick response and everyone for making awareness by retweeting. We are safe  

Solidarity with all activists. 

Mr MT, Environmentalist in North Wales.


[This piece was first published as a Twitter thread and turned into the above article on 16 March 2021 with the purpose of reaching a larger audience. It has been minorly edited and corrected, and published with the author’s consent. | The author of the tweets writes in a personal capacity.]

(Cover: Vladimir Morozov, Extinction Rebellion. / Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.)

Creative Commons License