Speaking to The Conscious Lawyer at the Extinction Rebellion (XR) offices in London on 19 April, Legal Strategist for the movement, Mothiur Rahman said:
“What I think one of the biggest achievements of the XR movement has been, in just six months, is bringing the concept of climate and ecological emergency to the House of Commons, to the House of Lords, to how people are framing the problem. For example, fifty-four local councils have now declared a climate and ecological emergency. They have each said in their declaration we demand central government to release the funds so that we can act upon this declaration of climate and ecological emergency. … we are moving to this definition of what is an emergency? Is it long-term? Is it short-term? What are the criteria that we really need to consider?
We see that the law is the law and the police are the enforcers of the law. So, we can speak to the police and tell them: “We are enforcing our right to peaceful assembly and for peaceful protest.” We will [be] protesting against a particular law – like obstructing the highway – but we will do that peacefully in order to enact what we see is our right to bring this greater message of the climate and ecological urgency. And so, the police are aware of that and the position will not escalate into violence. There is a need, on all sides, to keep it peaceful.
There is this whole history of social movements, of peaceful civil disobedience, that this movement is building on and recontextualising it for a climate and ecological emergency.
Civil Liberties are those liberties that we need to engage at the next level of human meaning, which is the community level. We need to push ourselves beyond, break out of that enclosure of the self. So, the right to assembly is a right that actually you could call a social human right because it pushes you out to see that there is a meaning in being part of a community aswell. … We really need those rights because we are so isolated and so enclosed in our own screens or whatever. We live in such an atomised way, we are not even recognising that there is a level of meaning that emerges when we come into community.
The skull represents the urgency we are facing with climate collapse and the potential extinction of life. The rainbow colours represent how, out of that space, can we respond with both beauty and our full humanity to meet the urgency. That is what this week has been about.
I don’t feel fear. I feel more grief. And through that grief I feel more love for who we are, what we are, what we are capable of and what we can do to recreate a better world.”
The Three Demands of Extinction Rebellion:
(1) Government to tell the truth about the climate and ecological emergency – that we have to act now and that the status quo way of doing things is just not going to work.
(2) Government to enact the policies to halt bio-diversity loss AND Government to bring greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025.
(3) Citizens’ Assembly to be brought into existence to oversee, and to carry out, recommendations as to what exact policies should be put in place – and the government to take its lead from these recommendations.
MOTHIUR RAHMAN is a co-founder of the Community Chartering Network and has brought that experience to bear in setting up a legal practice called New Economy Law. He supports clients who are passionate about bringing in a more ecological and beautiful world, developing legal strategies with them to unlock new possibilities for a rapidly changing world. Read more at New Economy Law.
Currently, Mothiur is involved with the Extinction Rebellion movement in the UK. He speaks with RESURGENCE PODCAST HERE about how the climate crisis is challenging neoliberalism through collective action.