Just Stop Oil Statement on Downing Street Arrests

Today the fundamental right to express dissent has been taken away from the British people. The home secretary has bypassed the democratic process to grant police the power to not only ban every protest they do not agree with, but ban it before it even takes place. That is thought-crime. Regardless of our political beliefs, as citizens, our freedom to assemble and march is a fundamental human right that is protected under international law. It is the bedrock of true democracy, something we must fight to uphold. The stakes at this moment in history are higher than they have ever been.  

Our government plans to continue a policy to licence new oil and gas, a policy that is opposed by the United Nations, the International Energy Agency and every climate scientist. This is to knowingly plan for the deaths of countless millions, to plan for billions to lose their homes, to plan for the end of ordered society and what is left of our democracy.

In choosing to ignore the advice they have been given, our leaders are telling the whole world they believe it’s acceptable to allow 40C heat waves to torch our homes, historic droughts to obliterate our food supplies, and entire nations to sink beneath the waves, displacing millions and consigning their cultures and traditions to history. 

Democracy is broken. Ordinary people are still struggling to pay their energy bills, oil corporations are still making billions in profit and the criminals in government are continuing to enact policies that will consign millions of people to death. We can change this. We must change this.

The criminality of the British Government is plain for all to see. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, has called today’s legislation “deeply troubling” as it “imposes unnecessary and disproportionate criminal sanctions on people organising or taking part in peaceful protests.” He has called for  the legislation to be retracted “as soon as feasible.”

The British people will not stand by while this illegitimate government eradicates every hard-won right we have. As today’s arrests have shown, when all legal avenues for dissent have been banned, we will continue to march. What else is there for us to do, when we face the existential crisis those in power are facilitating? This is the lesson of those who came before us, who fought and died to secure whatever freedoms we have. Those who marched on Peterloo did not cower in the face of despotic state overreach, neither did the suffragettes, and neither will we.  

To those in power we say this. There will always be more of us than there will be of you, the people are awakening to this reality. You can ban protest, you can ban strike action, but in the end it will not matter. Imprison one of us, ten will take their place; imprison a hundred of us, a thousand will step up. Ultimately, your children will not forgive you. You will be held to account for the crime of genocide. It is simply a matter of time.

Just Stop Oil will not be silenced by your three new anti-protest laws. We will continue our campaign of peaceful civil resistance until this government agrees to end new oil and gas.


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Notes to Editors

[1] Just Stop Oil is a coalition of groups working together to demand that the government immediately halt all future licensing and consents for the exploration, development and production of fossil fuels in the UK. Just Stop Oil is a member of the A22 Network of civil resistance projects. Climate Emergency Fund is Just Stop Oil’s primary funder for recruitment, training, and capacity building.