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Young people hold placards at COP26 London climate march

Young people hold placards at the COP26 climate march in London - Amy Sheppy/Christian Aid

Protest: the essence of democracy

Published on 16 November 2021

At a time when the act of protest is under threat, we spoke to church goers taking part in the Global Day of Action during COP26 on why protest is important to them.

With placards in hand and slogans ready to chant, thousands of people flooded the streets of UK towns and cities to demand ambitious climate action during the UN COP26 talks. From Glasgow to Brighton, Ipswich to Abergavenny people came together using their fundamental right to protest to make their voices heard. 

Protesting creates a physical, visual and audible expression of public will that is hard to ignore. But such expressions and freedoms are at risk. The proposed limits to protest through the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill threaten the ability of all of us to publicly gather and hold decision makers to account on the climate crisis- as well as other issues we hold dear.  

We passed the mic to campaigners, activists and friends of Christian Aid taking part in the COP26 day of action, to tell us why protest is important to them. 

Here’s what they had to say:

'As citizens, we have so few opportunities to send a loud message to our leaders. Peaceful protest feels like a critical aspect of our democracy.  It was powerful to join with thousands of people and send the message to our leaders that we need urgent and serious action on climate; that we must resource vulnerable Global South countries appropriately. When I march, I remember those who marched with the suffragettes, Jarrow, Cable Street where ordinary people came together to press for change.' - Radhika Bynon ,Faith Leader in Glasgow

Radhika Bynon holds a purple banner reading Climate Justice Racial Justice

Amy Menzies/Christian Aid

Saturday’s march was the first time my teenaged grand-daughter and god-daughter experienced being part of a political movement where they were able to make their voices heard. This is the essence of democracy. It was thrilling to see young people of all ages taking part and growing in political awareness. This is the kind of society I want them to grow up in.'

- Margaret Brown, Grandmother from Reading.

A girl and a young woman hold placards at the COP26 London march

'It’s important for us to be part of the change to make the world better.'

Violet and Clara, School children from London

'Protest empowers people to come together and stand up against injustices in the world.'

Jade Danaswamy- Santiz, College Student from London

Being on the streets as part of the protest was really important to me. Climate change is the issue of our time, and so we need to use every channel available to us to make our voices heard. Standing on the streets of Glasgow, surrounded by thousands of people from across the world and from all walks of life is so important to show decision-makers that climate change is a global issue which cuts across all sectors of society.

- Beth John, Student from Bristol.

'I feel it's important to put my faith into action. God has asked us to steward creation and I want to play my part. By protesting with my children and parents we can bring three generations together to unite and call for action which benefit all of us and our generations to come. We need to speak up for our neighbours around the world, we have a voice, and our government has influence which can make a difference for people living in poverty.' -  Paul Furbey, Father from Sheffield

A dad, daughter and grandfather hold placards at a COP26 protest

A dad, daughter and grandfather hold placards at a COP26 protest - Amy Sheppey/Christian Aid

Protest is a right that we do not hold lightly.

Protest is a vital tool as we call out for climate justice. It is an act of solidarity as we stand with our sisters and brothers around the world living in poverty. It is how we live out our faith as we strive to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with God.

Join us in protecting the right to protest. As a global organisation we work around the world to help make sure the voices of ordinary people are heard. That includes here in the UK. That’s why we’re joining with our friends at Friends of the Earth to say no to limits to protest.

You can sign the petition here.

 

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