The French government recently issued a decree shutting down a climate activist group accused of “eco-terrorism.”
The activist group, Uprisings of the Earth, has repeatedly resorted to violence and fights with police during their demonstrations.
🇫🇷 The French government said Tuesday that it would soon shut down activist climate group Uprisings of the Earth (#SLT) over a series of recent demonstrations.
FRANCE 24 has the story 👇 pic.twitter.com/299yWtAP5Y
— FRANCE 24 English (@France24_en) June 21, 2023
The group denounced the shutdown, arguing that it violates human rights and infringes on the French public’s freedom of speech. Raphael Kempf, the group’s lawyer, told Reuters that the shutdown targets free speech and has pledged to challenge the decision in the courts.
“It’s an infringement on freedom of expression, it targets speech and not actions,” Kempf said.
Patrick Baudouin, Head of the French Human Rights League, agreed with the group, claiming that the government’s actions are part of a broader trend to attack “several freedoms.”
“For the past few months there have been attacks on several freedoms (freedom of protest, expression and association), that primarily concern the ecologist movement,” Baudouin said.
The decision to shut down the group because of their violent demonstrations began in March 2023, after a protest in western France led to violent brawls between 5,000 protesters and 3,000 police officers. Police used teargas after vehicles were set on fire to try and spread out the demonstrators.
According to BFMTV, French police recently arrested 14 people associated with Uprisings of the Earth after an investigation in December 2022 concerning their actions during a demonstration against a prominent cement manufacturer.
The group said it plans to appeal the government’s decision, adding that such a decision could help it gain public support.
“We see it as a call to set up a network of resistance, as a lever to help even more people join the next actions of Soulèvements de la Terre,” the group told CNN. “The government claimed to make us disappear, but in reality we are becoming more and more visible,” the group said.
The French Human Rights League recently released a statement, saying that the government’s decision to shut down the group was a “worrying sign” of a push to eliminate environmental protests.
“This decision comes in a climate particularly hostile to this environmental movement, attempting to bluntly silence it and its supporters,” the statement read.