Southwark Rebel Nadira was convicted on Tuesday of willful obstruction of a public highway. At at time when the situation often feels hopeless, these exerts from her defense statement are compelling reminder of why we rebel:
“I stand before you this morning because I chose to participate in a nonviolent mass civil disobedience action in October 2019. Using only my body, I helped to stop traffic near Lambeth bridge. My intermediate aim was to generate serious and sustained media discussion of climate change. My ultimate aim was to persuade the UK government to take rapid and proportionate action to halt global warming and repair biodiversity. As a consequence, I have been charged with willful obstruction of a public highway, without lawful authority or excuse. My case is that I did have lawful excuse, however, as I was exercising my right of conscience as it is defined under Article 9 of The Human Rights Act (1998).
I submit to the Court it has an opportunity to act with the force of moral clarity here. It has an opportunity to distinguish between peaceful and respectful law-breaking so that what is beautiful, healthy and beneficial might be conserved––and law-breaking for nefarious purposes, or because of negligence or ignorance.
I further submit to the Court the example of Conscientious Objection, which I submit falls within the remit of Article 9. I did not block traffic in order to gain rights, or have a bigoted law disposed of, I blocked traffic because I decided to exercise my lawful right to abstain from being a participant in a social compact I find at this moment in time to be immoral and destructive.
As a member of this state, the United Kingdom, I have come to believe that my business-as-usual work as a tax-paying citizen, contributor to and user of the country’s infrastructure––its economy––cannot be carried on in good conscience.
I believe we are heading for calamity if things remain more or less the same. In fact, we are already in the midst of calamity if you look at the ecological side of things. Close to 70% of the Earth’s wildlife in the last 40 years has been wiped out. Some scientists are calling what is happening ‘biological annihilation’.
I say I am not guilty of acting without lawful excuse. I also say, very genuinely, my actions were born of love––for life, for people, for the astonishing, profound wonders of nature, and for my home, the British Isles”.