Climate & Justice March

which became a Gaza support protest

On November 12, 2023 it was time for a new Climate & Justice March in Amsterdam! The starting point was the Dam square in the center of the city and after weeks of rain the sun brought everybody out… al 85,000 of us.

The march was divided in many different blocks each representing a different group of concerned people from healthcare workers to the queer community and from the river to the sea.

It was announced that Greta Thunberg would attend and march in front with the youth block. She didn’t want it to be about her and she choose to join the black block of the anarchists. Personally I think that was a good choice.

The march ended at the Museumplein where it was time for speeches, music and politicians. I skipped the politician, cause i am not interested in their promises ten days before a national election.

The program started with Bas van Weegberg from the union FNV. He brought along three union members who work at Tata Steel. They were on strike for 24 days to change their company the better. Combined with a lot of pressure from outside the they will change. At least that is what the company says. The day after the march Tata Steel announced they will reduce their staff with 800 people in The Netherlands.

The next speaker was Sahar Shirzad. She brought along Sara Rachdan, a Palestinian who held a very good speech about that the Israelis are doing to Palestine since 1948. Her speech was about the climate and how the land is destroyed, but as she said the forbidden sentence, something about a river, sea and freedom. Her mic was muted by the organization. This made the pro-Palestinian block raise their voice extra loud.

Next up was Jeangu Macrooy, who represented The Netherlands at the Eurovision Song contest in 2020. He shared a couple of good songs in the most simple way. Just his great voice and guitar. His performance was constantly interrupted by the pro-Palestinian block which wanted him to speak out for or against whatever (<- yes, I was already irritated by them). Jeangu didn’t give in. Apparently he was also asked to join a climate & justice march and not an anti-war march, which is just as important.

Tinebeb Berhane, Country Director for ActionAid Ethiopia, shared the catastrophe Ethiopia has to deal with due to the changing climate and years of draught.

Mounir Samuel had a great performance. He told the biblical story of Jonah, but linked it to what is happening today.

Greta Thunberg kept it short, as everybody knows her message she handed the mic to Sara to give her the opportunity the finish her speech which was interrupted earlier. The organisation didn’t give her the time to finish, but she could get her point across in a few sentences. Back to Greta… one of the participants of the demonstration climbed over the fence, onto the stage and grabbed the mic. He stated he came for a climate demonstration and not an anti war demo. He gave voice a lot of people thought.

Mustapha Eaisaouiyen is all the way from the Tweebosbuurt in Rotterdam. That is one of the many old neighborhoods where housing corporations demolish and replace houses with new expensive ones. Mustapha held a speech… he was one fire!

Bénédicte Ficq is a lawyer. She defends big criminals, but also takes on cases against the tobacco industry, Tata Steel and Chemours. She explained that fines don’t work as punishment for companies who pollute. She is trying to make those responsible personally responsible, so they will have to pay the fines or spend time in jail. That is the only way to make pollution stop through court. She recently joined Extinction Rebellion, but after the Climate & Justice March was taken over by the Palestinian protest she quit.

The last act before the politicians was Shishani and her band. It was easy to get into the grove with them. Check them out when they are in your area. In their set they made room for the indigenous people to let them share what is happening to their land and way of life.

Overall it was a great day, which started with sunshine and ended with overcast. I think it was a bad choice to integrate the Palestinian war in the climate march. It deserves a its own march like in London where a day earlier 300,000 people protested against the war.