Climate march organisers “sorry” about divisions speech caused

Photo: Niels van der Pas

The organisers of Sunday’s climate march in Amsterdam have issued a statement about the involvement of pro-Palestine campaigners on the stage, saying they are sorry about the divisions, and the insecurity this caused. 

In total, 85,000 people took part in the demonstration, making it the biggest ever organised in the Netherlands with climate change as the main theme. But the event was spoiled for some after a pro-Palestine activist used the controversial “from the river to the sea” slogan, and one demonstrator mounted the stage in protest about what he called the politicisation of the event. 

“We wanted to provide space for different aspects of climate and justice on stage,” the Climate Crisis Coalition said. “Wars and conflict situations in the world are an important part of this… which also include increasing drought, water scarcity and the struggle for resources. 

“From the beginning, we searched for how we could reflect respectfully on the suffering caused by the conflict in Palestine and Israel. It pains us that, as a coalition, we failed to do enough justice to that message and we recognise the emotions that were released in the process.”

In the “chaotic situation” which ensued, the organisers turned off one speaker’s microphone, which led star guest Greta Thunberg to intervene and hand her microphone to the activist instead.

“Moreover, when someone from the audience climbed onto the stage, we did not act immediately to ensure the safety of our speakers,” the organisers said. “We are sorry that there was division and insecurity, both on stage and in the audience.”

Thunberg’s position has also been criticised by the head of Germany’s Green Party Ricarda Lang, who said the climate activist was now discredited. “Greta Thunberg abused the need and concerns about protecting the climate with a one-sided view of the Israel-Palestine conflict,” Lang said. 

Extinction Rebellion Nederland, as one of the organisers of the march, has also spoken about the incident, saying that the group is “divided” about the strategy. “We are a multi-faceted organisation, and open to different views. So we are talking about this among ourselves,” spokeswoman Berthe van Soest told the AD.

A number of high-profile climate activists have since spoken out about the incident, with lawyer Benedicte Ficq among those to ditch Extinction Rebellion, saying she no longer endorsed the group. 

“The choice to link climate to such extremely complicated political standpoints does not feel right to me,” she said on LinkedIn

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