Five Extinction Rebellion (XR) protesters have been arrested after pouring fake blood over the steps of Trafalgar Square in protest against the deaths of indigenous people in Brazil.
Marking International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, the activists could be seen lying ‘dead’ on the ground while others held up banners that read ‘genocide [equals] ecocide’ and ‘indigenous emergency’.
The group, which also included protesters from HS2 Rebellion, the Articulation of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil (APIB) and the Internationalist Solidarity Network, also turned the water in the fountains red and luminous green for the demonstration.
Their aim is to raise awareness about Brazil’s indigenous people who are dying at a rapid rate due to the coronavirus pandemic. The APID reports that their mortality rate is now double the rest of Brazil’s population, putting them at risk of being wiped out.
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The most vulnerable communities are also at the forefront of the climate crisis and are under threat from illegal deforestation, mining companies and big corporations keen to advance into their territory, XR say.
APIB activist Celia Xakriaba said: ‘It’s not just a number. Each indigenous body holds an ancestral enchantment. For each indigenous person who dies, part of our collective history dies too.’
The protesters are encouraging people to also take part in their demonstration online by painting their hands red and green and sharing a selfie with the hashtag #IndigenousEmergency.
In a statement the Met Police said: ‘Police are aware of a protest in the vicinity of Trafalgar Square on Sunday, 9 August. An appropriate policing plan is in place and officers remain in the area.
‘Five people have been arrested on suspicion of offences including criminal and have been taken to a central London police station.’
The protest comes just days after Animal Rebellion, a sister group of XR, turned the water in the Trafalgar Square fountains red to represent the ‘blood on the government’s hands’.
Calling for an end to animal farming, they said the coronavirus crisis ‘could have been prevented’ as science suggests ‘three out of every four new infectious diseases originate from animals.’
Stephanie Zupan, a spokesperson for the group, explained: ‘The warnings from Covid-19 could not be starker. The government must now begin a transition towards a plant-based food system, or risk future zoonotic pandemics of catastrophic proportions.’
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