Friendly words from the police last week have done nothing to dissuade Tasmanian activists from continuing their nonviolent protests in the island’s forests. Seven protesters were arrested each on Tuesday and today, while one activist remains in a tree despite the warrant that has been issued for her arrest.
One week ago, Tasmanian police caused an outcry from conservation groups when they publicly named anti-forestry protesters as a make-believe terrorist group threatening the airport in an otherwise typical drill. The Wilderness Fund complained to the police that forestry protests in the country have always been nothing but peaceful in their opposition to clear cutting.
The police apologized last week for insinuating that local environmental activists would be involved in eco-terrorist activities, saying they were deliberately preparing for a highly unlikely situation, and the local conservation groups have accepted the apology. The Wilderness Society noted specifically that they were pleased to hear the police acknowledge the improbability of the scenario, given the movement’s consistent history of non-violence.
Apologies from the local police, however do not change the fact that Australia’s forests are decreasing at a rapid rate, while the UN reports that their per capita carbon emissions rival those of the United States. Australia’s current carbon reduction goal is a measly 5% decrease of 2000 levels by 2020, well below the 80% being urged by the scientific community.
In a blow to Australia’s weak leadership on these issues, 15 activists from Still Wild, Still Threatened took over a pulp mill on Tuesday morning. Seven of the protesters were arrested and charged with trespassing for chaining themselves to the equipment, stopping production for most of the day. This comes along with a wave of increased direct action being taken for the sake of forests and for the environment in general.
Today, eight protesters from the same organization blocked roadways leading into Tasmania’s forests, resulting in seven arrests so far. They have been charged with being public nuisances, while the final protester sits comfortably in her tree loft. The police called the protest “silly” and said that since the roadways have been reopened, she can remain as long as she’d like, though they claim she will be arrested promptly when she does come down.