COPENHAGEN - Fed up with the lack of progress in the
climate negotiations, campaigners marched on the Bella Centre. NGOs at
the negotiations staged a walkout to connect with civil society
outside, but police violently broke up this ‘people's assembly' and
arrested the ringleaders.
A morning of protest started around 10.30 at the Bella Centre with
a sit-in of ninety members of international environmental NGO Friends
of the Earth (FOE), who despite having access passes to the conference
venue were excluded for security reasons.
"This is a militarisation of the conference," said Friends of the
Earth chairmen Nnimmo Bassey. "Copenhagen is a city under siege."
UNFCCC Executive Secretary Yvo de Boer, who came to speak to
protesters, admitted that accreditation had been withdrawn because of
indications FoEI would try to break out of the centre to meet
Just after De Boer agreed to negotiate with the activists, hundreds
of indigenous people marched through the Bella Centre towards the exit
beating drums and chanting "Join the people's assembly!", "Claim power
now!" and "Respect the rights of indigenous people!"
"We demand the rights of indigenous people be respected in this
agreement," said a protester from Mexico, Maria Sanchez from Mexico.
"The Kyoto protocol must be respected and developed nations must lower
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Police in riot gear arrived outside the Bella Centre in massive
numbers and prevented the indigenous people from joining the People's
Assembly outside the Bella Centre. The ‘people's assembly' was declared
illegal despite having been granted a permit earlier.
Outside, helicopters hovered overhead and wounded cops were carried
away behind the barricades, police stormed the truck from where
organisers were rallying the protesters.
"Come help us now, the police are getting in," screamed one
organiser through the speakers before he was silenced and loaded into a
The protest caused chaos at the Bella Centre's entrance which was
immediately sealed off for security reasons. Ministers and diplomats
were stuck in the waiting crowd. Journalists rushing to the scene of
the protest were turned away.
Reporter Jose Siles from A-TV in Spain was arrested when he tried to
get inside. "They are hurting me," he cried out in pain when dragged
away by Danish police. "I have done nothing wrong, this is not a
Inside the Bella Centre, journalists were barred from covering the ongoing sit-in in an attempt to isolate the protesters.