Hundreds of protesters at the COP27 climate summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, are calling on industrialized nations to speed up the transition to renewable energy and free political prisoners.
Chants of “free them all” and “no climate justice without human rights” rang out as protesters marched through the conference’s “Blue Zone” on Saturday, which is considered UN territory and is governed by international law. international.
While the Egyptian presidency of COP27 mandated that the demonstrations must be approved by the organizing authorities and must take place only in a particular zone, the activists said they obtained UN permission for their activities outside the designated area.
Sanaa Seif, the sister of imprisoned Egyptian-British dissident Alaa Abd el-Fattah, marched in the front line under a banner reading “They are not defeated yet”, the title of Abd el-Fattah’s book, which has become a rally shout for the activists of the summit.
In 2015, he was sentenced to five years in prison after being found guilty of violating protest laws two years earlier when incumbent President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi led a coup against the late President Hosni Mubarak’s democratically elected successor, Mohamed Morsi. . Abd el-Fattah began consuming “just 100 calories a day” in April, his family said, to protest the conditions he and 60,000 other political prisoners faced in the country.
Since November 6, when the climate summit began, it has stopped all water intake. The family made an official request for a presidential pardon to President Sisi on Friday, Abd el-Fattah’s other sister, Mona Seif, announced.
US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said on Saturday his administration was doing “everything possible” to secure Abd el-Fattah’s release.
President Joe Biden, who flew in Friday, had “an extensive discussion on the human rights issue” with President Sisi, Sullivan said, directing his officials to work with the Egyptians on several cases, including Abd el – Fatah.
The protesters also called for drastic reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and for industrialized nations to pay for the effects of climate change. Many called for “loss and damage” payments, or financing to help pay for weather-related damage, to be at the center of negotiations.
“Africa is crying and its people are dying,” said Friday Nbani, a Nigerian environmental activist who leads a group of African protesters.
Emissions continue to rise, but scientists say the amount of heat-trapping gases must be nearly halved by 2030 to meet the Paris climate agreement’s temperature-limiting goals.
Activists chanted “keep it in the ground” in reference to their rejection of the continued extraction of fossil fuels.
On Friday, some of them interrupted US President Joe Biden’s speech and held up an orange banner reading “People Against Fuels” before being removed. As a result, one of the activists, Jacob Johns, had his access to the conference revoked.
The protests came at the end of the first week of the two-week summit, when typical protest action at climate summits is at its height.
COP27 featured a light agenda for Saturday and a full day off on Sunday before the focus shifts to discussions around a final document meant to reflect what was agreed and achieved at this year’s summit.
Talks are expected to intensify over the next week until the conference concludes on November 18, as delegates vie to have their priorities included in the closing statement.
The demonstrations also called for an end to the repression of environmental activists and minorities and for the rights of indigenous people, women, labor rights and people with disabilities, especially in developing countries.
Protest organizer Asad Rehman read a statement by Abd el-Fattah’s sister, while Seif stood silently beside him.
“I came here thinking I would be alone,” the statement said. “I’m sure those in power thought my voice would be drowned out and ignored. Instead, I found out that my family was already here waiting for me.”
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