XR Vic hunger strikers: famine caused by climate collapse stalks the world

XR Vic hunger strikers: famine caused by climate collapse stalks the world

Extinction Rebellion Australia, 14 May 2023

The hunger strike outside Victoria's Parliament House was a deeply personal and non-disruptive form of civil disobedience, drawing attention to the effects of the climate and ecological emergency. If governments won't listen to calls for urgent action, more disruptive tactics are inevitable in the coming XR Vic campaign between 25 and 27 May.

The group of Extinction Rebellion protesters remained outside Parliament House, day and night, for 48 hours without eating, asking that the government commit to the bare minimum of no new coal, no new gas and an end to native forest logging.

At night outside Parliament House

The action began with the lighting of vigil candles at 10pm on Wednesday 10th May. Over the next 48 hours, the hunger strikers welcomed a variety of groups, including Blinky the Giant Koala accompanied by the Red Rebels, Forest supporters wearing koala and other animal costumes, a contingent from Scientists Rebellion and many individuals.

Violet CoCo, who was recently sentenced to 18 months in prison for a protest on the Sydney Harbour Bridge, but absolved on appeal, took part in the hunger strike.

Speaker and supporters holding placards

Violet said: "We know that the climate collapse is already causing food and water shortages, even in a 'lucky country' like Australia. The problem is already much worse in some countries more impacted than us, such as Sudan, with millions already going hungry.

"We are taking this action to draw attention to the seriousness of the collapsing climate. We are begging our governments to act on environmental destruction with the urgency and focus it deserves. Unless we get the scale of action we need, right now, with no more excuses or delays, I don't have a future and neither do billions of others who share this planet.

"We are calling for thousands of people to join us in the streets, in a mass display of civil disobedience with the Occupy for Climate campaign. Other methods of trying to get the government to focus on the climate and ecological emergency have not worked. They are still not listening, as the world begins to crumble around us. The time for half measures is up."

Underlining this point, Callum Foote of Michael West Media noted that Violet Coco was on Hunger strike while the Governement approved four coal projects, see Three new coal mines and a coal extension get environmental approval. What’s the scam?

Supporter in a white cockatoo costume with others at the hunger strike

Tony Gleeson, a retired teacher, local radio presenter, and grandfather of five, who has taken part in numerous actions, such as the Picasso exhibition 'glue on' at the National Gallery of Victoria, said:

"This is the endgame. All the scientists are telling us that we are passing tipping points and are likely to pass the point of no return far sooner than most people think. When that happens, we won't be able to stop runaway warming. That means the collapse of civilization and the end of the world as we know it.

"Yet our governments are barely touching the edges of the problem. They are still allowing new coal and gas projects to go ahead, and still logging native forests for woodchips. We are still giving fossil fuels billions in subsidies every year, and wasting millions on loss-making native forest logging. These things are entirely within the power of our government to fix, but they are not doing it.

XR Vic Hunger Strikers with Greens MPs Tim Read  and Ellen Sandell
Some of the XR Vic Hunger Strikers with Greens MPs Tim Read (Brunswick) and Ellen Sandell (Melbourne)

"The late Professor Will Steffen, an eminent scientist who was adviser to the Australian Government Department of Climate Change, said we are on a trajectory of "collapse", a "rapid drop in human population" and "hell on earth" conditions. There is every reason to take these warnings seriously and act on them accordingly. It seems a pretty reasonable thing to ask our governments to do. I want my five grandchildren to have some hope for a liveable future. The way things are at the moment, they don't."

Hunger striker Daisy said, "We know that many around the world are already hungry and dying due to climate breakdown. The world cannot afford to burn any more fossil fuels."

A simple closing ceremony at 10pm on Friday ended the 48 hour hunger strike, with vegan soup all round to break the fast.

Sharing soup at the end of the hunger strike

Find out more about the OCCUPY FOR CLIMATE campaign in Melbourne/Naarm on 25, 26 and 27 May.

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