Twelve environmental groups announced on Tuesday that they were beefing up security for their leaders in reaction to the violence against climate activist Anuna De Wever at the Pukkelpop Festival in Hasselt on 15 August.
The groups announced that they would increase the number of persons wearing blue and pink vests who surround leading activists at the various events organised by the environmentalists. Extra precautions would also be taken when climate-change leaders travel.
The groups include Rise for Climate Belgium, Youth For Climate, Extinction Rebellion and Gilets Jaunes Belgique. They denounced the threatening situation experienced by Anuna De Wever, who was booed on the stage at Pukkelpop and said she was later pursued up to the festival’s camping area, where her group was pelted with bottles of urine and tents were torn.
The associations recalled that their respective movements were non-violent. They fear hate speech is being expressed more openly and hateful actions are becoming more frequent with the rise of the extreme right in Flanders.
“The rise of the extreme right in Belgium as elsewhere in the world, is freeing up [hate] speech and actions,” said François Dvorak, a member of Extinction Rebellion and Rise for Climate Belgium. “The repercussions are being felt at elections.
“In the face of the rise of the extreme right and the climate emergency, we need to be united and collaborate,” Dvorak urged. “Climate groups need to cast aside their little squabbles and come together because we risk being attacked on a wider scale in future. We’ve already had extreme right groups infiltrating youth marches and creating problems, particularly in the spring.”