Gaza ceasefire protest brings Palestinian cause to Cop28

Dozens of activists hold peaceful rally linking Israel-Gaza conflict to climate justice

Activists at Cop28 call for ceasefire in Gaza

Activists at Cop28 call for ceasefire in Gaza
Powered by automated translation

Live updates: Follow the latest news on Cop28

Pro-Palestinian activists brought their cause to Cop28 on Sunday as they staged a peaceful rally on the grounds of the climate summit in Dubai.

Dozens of people called for a ceasefire at a protest in the UN-managed Blue Zone in Dubai, where tearful demonstrators read out the names of people killed in the Israel-Gaza conflict.

Activists chanted slogans, held up banners and took turns to address a crowd, many of them linking the Palestinian cause to a wider fight against climate change and injustice.

“We are taking a stand here today not just as Palestinian people… but people who are allied with justice for all people across the world,” said Tariq Luthun, 32, a Gazan community organiser who lives in the US.

“We are all aligned towards life. We are all aligned towards a world that is just for all people, whether it be in the climate space or in a space that doesn’t seem like it’s about climate, but actually truly is,” he told The National.

“The point of making a green world, the point of making this world safe and equitable and using clean energies is to be able to cater towards people, cater towards lives.”

The hour-long protest was announced in advance and watched by UN security staff at Expo City Dubai.

The names read out by activists, from a printed list compiled by Gaza’s Ministry of Health, included many children reported killed since the conflict erupted on October 7.

“We can never get through enough of the names of those who have been killed, no matter how many minutes we spend here today to read them,” Mr Luthun said.

Banners and keffiyehs

Some demonstrators wore keffiyehs or lanyards in the colours of the Palestinian flag. They lined up behind four large banners written “end environmental apartheid”, “ceasefire”, “climate” and “decolonisation”.

Speakers included activists from Cameroon, the Philippines and a Native American campaigner, with organisers urging the group not to chant slogans that could breach UN rules.

Gina Cortes Valderrama, a Colombian activist who regularly appears at climate summits, led chants including: “Human rights are under attack – what do we do? Fight back, fight back.”

At a protest bringing together a range of causes, Ms Cortes Valderrama spoke of fighting a “system of oppression” contributing to climate change and violence.

“This is a global call from the climate justice movement to the world – there is no climate justice without human rights. The climate justice movement is standing against the occupation,” she said.

“How does a just transition look in a refugee camp? How does a just transition look in a devastated land?,” she asked, using a term for replacing fossil fuels with clean energy that is at the heart of the Cop28 talks.

Earlier, there were a handful of smaller demos in the Blue Zone, including another by a pro-Palestinian group and another by activists dressed as medics attempting CPR on a dying planet.

The UN Department for Safety and Security, comprising armed personnel from a host of member states, police the zone and have stood back to allow respectful demonstrations to go ahead.

Several visiting leaders including France's Emmanuel Macron and Britain's Rishi Sunak have used the sidelines of Cop28 to hold talks on the Israel-Gaza conflict, with a four-day truce ending on the day heads of state and government began taking the stage in Dubai.

Updated: December 05, 2023, 6:05 AM