Extinction Rebellion

Bega Valley rebels highlight forest destruction for wood-chipping and the climate emergency

Bega Valley rebels highlight forest destruction for wood-chipping and the climate emergency

By Extinction Rebellion Australia, on 17 June 2021

Rebels in a regional Australian town locked down on top of the Federal MP’s office roof, a pile of wood chips was dumped on the office doorstep and another rebel glued themselves to the office door.

A public meeting was held in the local public gardens on the same day as the lockdown. As Sergeio's live video feed on the Bega Valley facebook page started, the rebels (Jared, Sue and Sergeio) had been on the roof of NSW Liberal MP Andrew Constance's office roof for four hours. The police rescue were just arriving. The street had already been declared a crime scene and blocked to traffic.

Sue (Climate Angel) said she was there to raise alarm on the climate emergency.

Jared said it was his first time being involved in an action. He said he wasn't prepared to sit around waiting when people were going to suffer.

Sergeio said "This is bushfire-affected community. People here in Bega were on the beach, fleeing from the furnace. Some of my friends were there, breathing through wet socks, wondering if they wouldn't be there in an hour's time. I was hearing about how you couldn't go outside in Bega without squinting because of the smoke, burning your eyes and your lungs.

"This is what suffering from climate change means – and this non-violent direct action, getting in the way, doing simple stuff, being defiant and resilient, breaking the government’s laws - that's what rebellion looks like.

"I'm calling upon the Australian people on behalf of some of the victims here in Australia, to fight back against this government that is actively engaged in the planning and execution genocide of the global south and the genocide of our children."

In a comprehensive article in The New Bush Telegraph, Bravehearts and Angels Call Out Wood Chipping reporter Bonnie Cassen described how the rebels were using civil disobedience to raise awareness and put strain on existing systems, making it clear that the system can’t cope and why. Eventually governments are forced to act as needed.

The article quoted Andrew, the rebel glued to the front door of Federal MP Andrew Constance's office. Andrew said he was doing this for his grandkids, and that doing nothing was no longer an option for him, his silence making him complicit in the wrong doings. The New Bush Telegraph article noted that others willing to get arrested made similar justifications, many also grandparents, parents to young children or young themselves and wanting a liveable future

Sue was arrested during the action and was taken to the Bega police station where she accepted her bail conditions which include remaining outside a 20m radius of Liberal MP Andrew Constance’s office.

Sue faces five charges, amongst them a charge stated as "use intimidation/violence to unlawfully influence person", a charge that the other three arrestees will also face.

Jarrad, Andrew and Sergeio declined to sign the bail conditions and spent the night in the corrections facility in Batemans bay. They received new bail conditions which Jarrad and Andrew signed. They were released and must attend court.

Sergeio isn't prepared to sign his adjusted bail, stating that he is unwilling to compromise his ability to protest against the treasonous governments sentencing future generations to insurmountable suffering. Sergeio will be requesting that his charges be dropped and stands by his convictions despite being warned that he may end up having to spend 14 days in jail.

Other XR rebels are concerned for his safety, but support his decisions and stand by him against the injustice he is facing. Sergeio is on hunger strike until his trial or until 20 people join him in prison.

On 15th June XR Bega Valley and supporters were at the Bega courthouse showing solidarity with rebels who have been charged with intimidation/violence for a pile of woodchips.

A fundraising appeal for legal support and fines for Bega rebels has been launched.