Climate activists clashed with police in Paris on Sunday ahead of a key UN climate talk, unhappy with the emergency laws that prevent their freedom to protest.
France’s state of emergency that bans gatherings was introduced following the November 13 terrorist attacks in Paris. A group of protesters in the Place de la Republique pelted officers with bottles. French president Francois Hollande condemned the “scandalous” behaviour, saying that the protesters are solely there “to create incidents.” Hundreds of thousands of people worldwide took to the streets ahead of the Paris climate summit due tomorrow, demanding a stop to climate change from their leaders.
Radio Australia reports:
French police clashed with protesters on the streets of Paris overnight as world leaders gathered ahead of key United Nations climate talks.
Earlier peaceful protests — including a ‘human chain’ on the streets of the French capital — turned ugly later in the day as a small group of protesters in the Place de la Republique pelted officers with bottles as well as candles that had been left in tribute to the victims of the November 13 Paris attacks.
Police arrested 208 people.
“These disruptive elements have nothing to do with defenders of the environment,” French president Francois Hollande said at an EU-Turkey summit in Brussels.
“They are not there so that the [COP21] talks succeed but are there solely to create incidents.
“It is doubly regrettable, even scandalous, that this happened at the Place de la Republique where flowers and candles have been left in memory of those who were killed by the terrorists’ bullets in the November 13 Paris attacks.”
Earlier thousands of people gathered on the streets of the French capital to form a human chain to send a highly symbolic message to the gathering leaders.
French authorities had earlier cancelled two climate demonstrations and placed climate change activists under house arrest following the terror attacks, which killed 130 people across the city.
But in the first organised demonstration in the French capital since the attacks, climate protesters of all ages lined the wind-blown streets to link up in a two-kilometre human chain instead of holding a march.
“I hope this time the conference will lead to something solid,” said Denis Diderot, a retired university teacher who joined the demonstration wearing a beret and the Legion d’Honneur.
Protesters left a 100-metre gap in the chain in front of the flowers left outside the Bataclan concert hall, where 90 people were killed on November 13, as a mark of respect to the victims.
Instead of marching, activists left thousands of pairs of shoes on the ground at the Place de la Republique.
One pair of running shoes was left by UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon.
Brazillian cardinal Claudio Hummes also added a pair of Pope Francis’s shoes to the display, saying the pontiff would approve of the demonstration.
“It’s also an ethical question, because we have to ask ourselves what world we will leave to our children, and to the younger generations that are coming, that’s what the Pope says,” he said.
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