Monday, January 4, 2010

Something is rotten (but not just) in Denmark

photo from Update Jan 5: Natasha Verco released but still facing charges | Listen or Read transcript of Natasha Verco being interviewed (ABC radio AM) (Jan 5, 2009)

Australian Greens Senator, Scott Ludlum, has written to the Danish Consul demanding the release of climate protester Natasha Verco. "The use of heavy handed and disproportionate tactics like preemptive arrest of peaceful demonstrators was a grim counterpoint to the total failure of Governments to come up with a just and effective response to climate change," said Greens Senator Scott Ludlam.

See related post: We already gave the Danes a princess - give us back our protestor!

"Natasha Verco is an Australian whose record of work for climate justice speaks for itself. She was arrested, along with many others, for the crime of helping organise a peaceful demonstration in Copenhagen. She has been incarcerated ever since." said Senator Ludlam.

Natasha Verco is being held in Copenhagen's Vestre Faengsel jail, unable to contact her Australian family or friends. The Department of Foreign Affairs have confirmed they are aware of the case and are providing consular assistance. Senator Ludlum argues that the Federal Government should demand her immediate release.

"It is utterly perverse that people seeking to give voice to community demands for action on climate change should pay this kind of price. Mrs Verco and all those who remain behind bars with her should be released today," Scott Ludlum concluded.

According to ABC News 25 people gathered on January 4 outside the Danish consulate in Sydney to demand Verco's release. The group was hoping to hand a letter to the Consul General urging urging Australian born Princess Mary to intercede in the case for all charges to be dropped.

Friends of the Earth spokeswoman Holly Creenaune told the ABC "It's our information that Natasha has been charged with an incitement charge, basically an incitement to get people to come to a protest," she said.

See photos: Free climate prisoners! Sydney solidarity action

Natasha Verco is one of several climate activists still in prison. On January 1 they released the following statement, reproduced from the Climate Justice Action website.

What you can do: Send a letter to Danish and Australian authorities calling for the release of climate prisoners (FoE Sydney) See Greens Senator letter to Danish Consulate - (PDF)

Letter from our friends in prison

Copenhagen, January 1st 2010

Something is rotten (but not just) in Denmark. As a matter of fact, thousands of people have been considered, without any evidence, a threat to the society. Hundreds have been arrested and some are still under detention, waiting for judgement or under investigation. Among them, us, the undersigned.

We want to tell the story from the peculiar viewpoint of those that still see the sky from behind the bars.

A UN meeting of crucial importance has failed because of several contradictions and tensions that have shown up during the COP15. The primary concern of the powerful was the governance of the energy supply for neverending growth. This was the case whether they were from the overdeveloped world, like the EU countries or the US, or from the so-called developing countries, like China or Brazil.

At odds, hundreds of delegates and thousands of people in the streets have raised the issue that the rationale of life must be (and actually is) opposed to that of profit. we have strongly affirmed our will to stop anthropic pressure on the biosphere.

A crisis of the energy paradigm is coming soon. The mechanism of the global governance have proven to be overwhelmingly precarious. The powerful failed not only in reaching an agreement on their internal equilibria but also in keeping the formal control of the discussion.

Climate change is an extreme and ultimate expression of the violence of the capitalistic growth paradigm. People globally are increasingly showing the willingness of taking the power to rebel against that violence. we have seen that in Copenhagen, as well as we have seen that same violence. Hundreds of people have been arrested without any reason or clear evidence, or for participating in peaceful and legitimate demonstrations. Even mild examples of civil disobedience have been considered as a serious threat to the social order.

In response we ask - What order do we threaten and who ordered it? Is it that order in which we do not any more own our bodies? The order well beyond the terms of any reasonable "social contract" that we would ever sign, where our bodies can be taken, managed, constrained and imprisoned without any serious evidence of crime. Is it that order in which the decision are more and more shielded from any social conflicts? Where the governance less and less belongs to people, not even through the parliament? As a matter of fact, non-democratic organisms like the WTO, the NB, the G-whatever rule beyond any control.

We are forced to notice that the theatre of democracy is a broken one as soon as, one approaches the core of the power. That is why we reclaim the power to the people. We reclaim the power over our own lives. Above all, we reclaim the power to counter-pose the rationale of life and of the commons to the rationale of profit. It may have been declared illegal, but still we consider it fully legitimate.

Since no real space is left in the broken theatre, we reclaimed our collective power - Actually we expected it - to speak about the climate and energy issues. Issues that, for us, involve critical nodes of global justice, survival of man and energy independence. We did marching with our bodies.

We prefer to enter the space where the power is locked dancing and singing. We would have liked to do this at the Bella Center, to disrupt the session in accord with hundreds of delegates. But we were, as always, violently hampered by the police. They arrested our bodies in an attempt to arrest our ideas. we risked our bodies, trying to protect them just by staying close to each other. We value our bodies: We need them to make love, to stay together and to enjoy life. They hold our brains, with beautiful bright ideas and views. They hold our hearts filled with passion and joy. Nevertheless, we risked them. we risked our bodies getting locked in prisons.

In fact, what would be the worth of thinking and feeling if the bodies did not move?
Doing nothing, letting-it-happen, would be the worst form of complicity with the business that wanted to hack the UN meeting. At the COP15 we moved, and we will keep moving.

Exactly like love, civil disobedience can not just be told. We must make it, with our bodies. Otherwise, we would not really think about what we love, and we would not really love what we think about. It's as simple as that. It's a matter of love, justice and dignity.

How the COP15 has ended proves that we were right. Many of us are paying what is mandatory for an obsessive, pervasive and total repression: To find a guilty at the cost of inventing it (along with the crime perhaps).

We are detained with evidently absurd accusations about either violences that actually did not take place or conspiracies and organizing of law-breaking actions.

We do not feel guilty for having shown, together with thousands, the reclamation of the independence of our lives from profit's rule. If the laws oppose this, it was legitimate to peacefully - but still conflictually - break them.

We are just temporarily docked, ready to sail again with a wind stronger than ever. It's a matter of love, justice and dignity.

  • Luca Tornatore, Italian social centres network "see you in Copenhagen".

  • Natasha Verco, Climate Justice Action

  • Johannes Paul Schul Meyer

  • Arvip Peschel

  • Christian Becker

  • Kharlanchuck Dzmitry

  • Cristoph Lang

  • Anthony Arrabal

Update Jan 5: Natasha Verco released but still facing charges

Via ABC News - Copenhagen protester released from jail by ABC Europe correspondent Emma Alberici

An Australian held in a Danish prison for three weeks for organising a protest during the Copenhagen climate change conference has been released.Natasha Verco was arrested on December 15, a day before the biggest protest march during the United Nations talks in Copenhagen.

The chief prosecutor for the Copenhagen police, Dorit Borgaard, says Verco was released overnight along with American citizen Noah Weiss.

Their case has been adjourned until March 16 when they will face charges of attempted assault of a police officer and planning to disturb public order.

If convicted, they face up to six months in jail.

Verco insists she organised a peaceful event during the conference and denies accusations that she assaulted a police officer and planned to disturb public order.

"I participated in organising people to speak about climate change with youth delegates for the UN," she said.

"They say I organised riots and when we said that riots didn't happen, they said, 'No, you were charged with organising riots that were stopped by the good work of the police'.

"I wasn't at a protest. I wasn't on my way to a protest. I was riding along the side of the road.

"When I asked them what was going on (and) were they just picking up anybody who was wearing black clothes - I had a black jacket on and some black pants - they said, 'no we've been hunting you'."

Prisoner support and legal aid report there are still seven foreign persons detained in relation to the climate summit. It has not been possible to confirm this figure with the police.

Among those who remain behind bars, include the Italian Luca Tornatore, an astro-physicist and staff member at the University of Trieste, who was a spokesman for the Italian climate campaign group 'See You in Copenhagen'. There have been several demonstrations of solidarity in Italy, calling for his immediate release. Danish consulates in several Italian cities have been filled, a petition has been started, and his case was raised in parliament.


Takver is a citizen journalist from Melbourne who has been writing on Climate Change issues and protests including Rising Sea Level, Ocean acidification, Environmental and social Impacts since 2004.