Climate Justice Action and Climate Justice Now activists plan to enter the COP15 venue and stage a “People’s Assembly” on December 16, despite the fact that access has been severely restricted. The Bella Center Metro station has been closed. Around the area, more barricades and a defensive wall were erected.
Thai community members get up very early in the morning to join the rally, which begins in the Sundby area. Khun Srisuwan Khaunkajorn, a senior Thai activist, and I are expected to join them in front of the Bella Center. We took the S train from Central Station to Orestad Station and then walked from there. All delegates have only access to the COP15 venue.
At noon, I run into Emmy Hafild, the former Executive Director of Greenpeace Southeast Asia, who is hurrying out of the building.
“Hi Tara, nice to see you again,” Emmy said. I met her two days ago inside Bella Center. She received the pink badge representing the Indonesian delegate. She is about to leave for Jakarta, saying, “I have to go home now.”
Emmy used two words to describe what is going on inside the COP15: “chaos” and “disaster.”
“When the marchers arrive at the Bella Center, the police give a warning via a megaphone in English and a few other European languages that I do not understand. Despite the fact that our activists have indicated that they will not attempt to enter the conference venue and will instead stage a gathering outside, the police squad has chosen to break up the demonstration.” Note from Penchom Tang, a member of the Thai Working Group for Climate Justice who joined other Thai activists at the rally.
“Front-line demonstrators are then pepper-sprayed and beaten with batons. Some attempted to cross a canal surrounding the venue by scaling fences, climbing over police vans, and even using flotation devices.” Penchom continued.
I’m being stopped by police as I try to follow a few hundred delegates marching out of the Bella Center to join the demonstration.
By early afternoon, the situation had calmed down, and we were able to contact the Thai team in the field to ensure their safety. Approximately 230 people were arrested.
“Thai activists are safe,” Khun Srisuwan said after learning that they had returned to their temporary residence, a stadium outside of Copenhagen.
By Thursday, access has become more restricted, with no more than 1,000 civil society representatives permitted in the Bella Center, and only 90 allowed on the final day of the conference.
As Connie Hedegaard has already resigned from the UNFCCC, a group of 50 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have written an open letter to executive secretary Yvo de Boer and COP15 president Lars Lkke Rasmussen.
The letter said
“It is intolerable that civil society observers be restricted in this forum, and we hope that the UNFCCC Secretariat recognises and reverses this undemocratic action. The UNFCCC/Kyoto Protocol negotiations have a huge and growing impact on the lives of ordinary people all over the world. Their participation in the climate negotiations as members of civil society is critical to ensuring that the Copenhagen outcomes are both just and effective,” according to the letter. It claims that the proposed restrictions violate the law’s requirement for public participation in the negotiations. If civil society voices are marginalised now, they will be marginalized in the final outcome.”
I call Wanun Permpiboon, who got the pink badge, while she is still inside the Bella Center. “If you have a pink badge, you can enter; however, to enter the plenary, you must have a “gold card” badge and a “platinum card” badge for Friday.” She enthusiastically explains.