Open Letter Calling For An End Of Police Repression Against Climate Activists 

Dear President of Portuguese Republic, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa,

Dear members of the Portuguese Republic Assembly,

In recent weeks, we have been perplexed witnesses to a series of disturbing incidents involving arbitrary detentions, police repression within universities, and even physical violence against climate activists. Climate activists have exercised their fundamental right to non-violent protest, enshrined in the Portuguese Constitution in Article 1. 45.

The increasing police repression, with reports of prolonged detentions, intimidating tactics, and excessive use of force, not only puts at risk the physical and emotional integrity of activists. It also represents a threat to the very essence of democracy, freedom of expression, and the right to protest.

It is imperative to underline that all actions undertaken by activists are non-violent and are instead directed towards collective action, with the purpose of confronting the climate crisis. Furthermore, it is important to remember that all these actions and demands are aligned with the best available climate science and the urgency advocated by the United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, who recently stated unequivocally that the “climate collapse has begun”. Our society needs space for dialogue and for the collective construction of solutions, something that these activists have tried to create but have been systematically and incomprehensibly ignored.

While COP28 was taking place, chaired by a fossil fuel magnate who took advantage of the summit to openly advance his intentions to close oil and gas deals. We are confronted in our country with violence and police repression against non-violent climate activists.

Violence against those dedicated to combating climate change is unacceptable, and we repudiate any attempt to justify it.

We reject that the intensification of the climate crisis and the shortening of deadlines dictated by science serve as a pretext for anti-democratic practices. They fuel the idea that repression is a way to silence non-violent activists fighting for the future of everyone.

In our country’s recent history, student organization in colleges and universities was a catalyzing force in forming critical consciousnesses and absolutely essential in the search for freedom and resistance to the authoritarian regime. There, repressive actions were carried out that shame us all, and it is with astonishment that we again see police security forces burst into public Higher Education institutions to interrupt lectures and non-violent protest actions.

As we approach the year in which we will celebrate 50 years since April 25th, which overthrew a fascist dictatorship where student resistance was decisive, we cannot tolerate the police repression and violence we have witnessed.

As defenders of human rights, social justice, climate justice, and environmental justice, we urge authorities to respect and protect the fundamental rights of all citizens. This includes the right to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly, and active participation in building a worthy future.

We demand that such abuses of authority be stopped immediately and see it as an urgent need for a complete and impartial investigation into police repression and violence against climate activists.

The undersigned entities,

Citizenship Academy

Amigos de Aprender
CIDAC (Center for Intervention for the Development Amílcar Cabral)
Coletivo do Jornal MAPA MAPA (MAPA MAPA Newspaper Collective)
Comissão de Utentes de Castanheira
DNS (The Necessary Teacher Training College)
Dunas Livres
Eco Cartaxo
Extinction Rebellion Portugal
Festival das Marias
Frente Grisalha pelo Clima
GAIA  (Group for Environmental Action and Intervention)
Greve Climática Estudantil (Student Climate Strike)
Linha Vermelha
Lisboa Possível
Lush – Fresh handmade cosmetics
Movimento Gota D’Água, Mira
MUBI (Association for Urban Mobility on Bicycle)
Panteras Rosa – Front for the Fight Against LesBiGayTransphobia
PATAV (Platform Against Live Animal Transport)
Plataforma Troca
Poly Portugal
Rede Ex Aequo
SOS Racismo (SOS Racism)
STCC (Call Center Workers Union)
Tolerância Zero
UMAR (Union of Alternative and Response Women)

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